Archive for SFG

Planting Season

As usual per this time of year, I have been outside planting and doing general cleanup activities. Unfortunately, I am not completely finished. Mostly, because I can’t decide if my broccoli is finished producing this season and whether to pull it out or not and I still have plenty of carrots left and am not ready to pull them up yet as I still have a bunch in the fridge. My husband is rooting for the snow peas to go, as he is very tired of them in everything we have been cooking.

We have had so many rainy days along with a little colder weather than we are used to, that the asparagus have been slow to come up this year and are just now coming into their full season. I am planning to try a new recipe for an asparagus frittata that I found in the newest issue of “Hobby Farm Home”. The strawberries are tasting rather delicious. I haven’t ever planted them and had them do well, so I have been so pleasantly surprised to see that happening. I am really loving this SFG thing! Out here we have such clay soil that with the SFG you don’t have to worry about that and it is amazing what you can grow.

Speaking of that, a few posts ago I mentioned that I was trying an experiment in growing celery. Well, unbelievably, the celery is almost ready. So funny that it actually worked. It is still rather small compared to full grown celery, but I am impressed. It looks like if you plant it from seed in October, it will actually grow all winter and do well.

I have plans to spend the afternoon out finishing up some cleanup projects outside and putting up a frame for a support for the Bayberry and Blackberry plants that I finally got planted on the north side of my house.

Happy planting!

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Winter Storm Cleanup in the Garden

For the last couple of weeks we have had some pretty constant days of rain and blowing wind. The garden looks terrible. Leaves are everywhere, and weeds are starting to show their ugly faces. So, with Saturday afternoon came some nicer weather and I decided to try to tackle some long overdue garden chores. I mainly worked on the grape vines which needed to be pruned back and the leaves raked and put into the compost bin. That took a little bit of time. I debated on saving the vines and wrapping them into a wreath, but in the end, they ended up in the garden waste pile.

I have been thinking vaguely about purchasing a wood chipper, but I am not sure I will have enough use for it to justify buying one. And, my husband, wasn’t too keen on the idea when I mentioned it in passing one day.

The peas, which are “Mammoth Melting” variety, are huge. I haven’t really had them get so big that they are tumbling over the supports. I put up some small supports because I usually don’t have them grow over about 4 feet. These vines are probably pushing 6 feet right now. I am just starting to get some snow peas off them, and they are very fresh and lovely.

As you can barely see in the bottom of the picture, the broccoli is ready for picking. We have oodles of broccoli right now, which my family does really like, so that is good. Out of the garden, for some reason, I have decided it tastes so much more tender. Yum!

My bell pepper plants really suffered this past month, because for a couple of days we actually had freezing temps. I know! Can you believe it? Anyway, I forgot to cover them and they just look pathetic. I am trying to decide whether to pull them out or not. If you look closely, you can just make out some new leaves that are popping out.

Bell Pepper - frozen back

Be that as it may, I am starting some others from seed inside under a grow light. YAY! I got myself a grow light! I wanted one for my birthday, but my husband said that if I did, the government would track it and come to check that I wasn’t growing marijuana! Right! So, I purchased one for myself a couple of weeks ago.

New seedlings under grow light on kitchen counter

It is actually working wonderfully. I just put a couple of hooks under the cabinet and suspended it from them with some wire. I leave it on for about 14 hours a day, and after 1 week they were already getting their second leaves. So exciting. I am trying to grow enough extras for my mom and father-in-law also. One day at a time. The only downside to having this light right in my kitchen is that my husband says he needs to wear sunglasses to watch TV because it is too bright on his poor little eyes. 🙂

Above you can see on the right, one of my brussel sprout plants that I started from seed back in Oct. On the left, the little seedlings are celery. I am trying that as an experiment. I am not too sure they are going to have enough time to grow before it gets too warm. We will see. They are definately slow growers!

My father-in-law is just putting up an awesome chicken coop. Here is a picture of it. It isn’t quite finished yet, but when it is, it will be really great. He has about 38 chickens which include 8 babies. On Saturday, we found 2 more hens roosting. I love to see those babies following after the mothers scratching for bugs.

New chicken coop

Baby chicks

This one is a rooster.

I am hopefully getting a couple of new hens today from a friend of mine. We had one of ours die a couple of weeks ago and now we have 4 hens. I am not quite sure what happened. It is possible she was egg bound because she had not yet started laying and was due any time to begin. I went out there and she was just dead. So sad. I really hate that, but it is part of having animals. My son always has a hard time.

Other random things happening in the garden right now:

– strawberry plants are starting to set fruit

-lots of carrots (By the way, I had planted some carrots of the variety “Tonda di Parigi” which are small round carrots similar looking to a radish. They are a little sweeter and very good raw. Interesting to taste the difference when compared to a regular baby carrot – “Little Finger” variety.)

-some tomatoes are starting to ripen and for some reason the starter plants that I purchased from the local garden center were labeled wrong and I have 3 cherry tomato plants. (Although, there is no where near the amount that I get in the spring/summer, even with a greenhouse type effect of growing them.)

-the eggplant are still producing the dreaded eggplant. I am definately pulling them out in a couple of weeks. I have just left them really because the little sparrows sit inside the plants and I feel sorry for them.

Happy Gardening!

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Here we are…

Sparkler radish planted October 5-6th.

Ok. I finally took some pictures, but then had to load the new PS Elements 8.0 before I could bring them to you. Lame, I know. And that took a few more days because then my mouse was out of commission. So, finally we are back in business. Thankfully. It has been so beautiful outside that I am just loving it. Unfortunately, so are the birds. And despite the fact that they have plenty of bird seed, they are thinking that my lettuce and newly sprouted lettuces are wonderful and eating them down to the ground. At first, I thought I had some kind of worm, but then discovered the birds. Some baling wire to make some little hoops to fit over the lettuce and seedlings & a trip to the local hardware store to buy some bird netting to fit over those hoops has solved the eating problem, but not the bird issue. They are seriously everywhere. My dog is going crazy chasing them. And somehow, every morning I go out there, they are getting into the chicken coop. I just came in from there, and there were seriously 10 sparrows and a dove. The dove is still in there. It wouldn’t come out. So, I say, whatever, to it!

I planted some celery this year, and don’t know if it will make it, but it has sprouted and they are seriously the smallest little leaves I think I have ever seen. The brussel sprouts have sprouted and the peas are starting to climb. YAY! I have a couple more new little basil plants that if anyone wants, they are  free to come pick up, since I have 3 already and really don’t need anymore. Although, I did discover that my chickens love basil. I have been giving them the extras. And I started with 9 strawberry plants and am already up to 12.

Overall view of garden

Celery seedlings

I am excited to see the scarlet runner bean growing just like a bean! And by that I mean, it is a fast growing plant, so much that I can probably measure it’s growth every day! I am excited to see it in a few weeks. I do have a laurel bay that I really need to get into a pot, as it is sitting in it’s plastic nursery pot in the garden. I am pruning it into a topiary and it is pretty so far. The leaves look awesome as wreaths so that will be kind of nice to have as well as the culinary uses.

Ok. Gotta go. I have tickets to “New Moon”.

TTYL

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It’s HOT!

Just picked today.

Just picked today.

It is so HOT outside these days that in order to check out the garden, I seriously have to get up at 6am to beat the heat. We are hitting 108 degrees today, which feels more like 118 degrees to me. I simply can hardly hack it! And of course, most of the garden needs to be shaded from the brutal afternoon sun.

Armeninan cucumbers growing up two 4 ft. tall topiary forms.

Armeninan cucumbers growing up two 4 ft. tall topiary forms.

The cucumbers seem to be doing ok, though. You can just see the tip of the topiary forms.  They are producing more armenian cucumbers than we can possibly eat, and I keep giving them away to relatives and neighbors. We usually just slice them up to munch on, although my daughter likes to dip hers in the ever present ranch dressing.

A small caterpillar on the pickling cucumbers.

A small caterpillar on the pickling cucumbers.

I found a little friend on my pickling cucumbers today, and it has found itself a new home in heaven. I did see a preying mantis that was quite large on the tomatoes today also, and that one I happily left alone. I cannot get rid of my infestation of squash bugs. They have moved onto my watermelon plants and as I now have some new starts of zucchini out there, I really want them GONE! I have tried insecticidal soap and picking them off as I see them and smashing them. I also have tried to look under all the leaves to get the little brown eggs and smash those. None of this has been working well at all. I have plans for the morning, to take a jar out there and pick off all that I can find and put them in the jar and then throw it away. I can hardly stand to touch the things. I think I will wear gardening gloves for this particular chore.

Asparagus ferns.

Asparagus ferns.

The asparagus has gone really crazy lately, making new shoots, going to seed and ferning. They seem to be doing just fine, also, without any extra shading.

Overall view of entrance to garden area.

Overall view of entrance to garden area.

I love the way those new pavers look at the entrance to the garden. Landcraft did such an amazing job on them. It has made the area feel like a little secret garden. To the left of the chicken coop, although you cannot see it, is a small garden shed. We put it in a few months ago, and it has been so handy to put all the supplies in there and not have them spilling about the garden like last year. One handy thing that I read about somewhere, is to hang an inexpensive shoe organizer on the back of the door. I keep all my garden tools in it as well as drip irrigation pieces and twine, zip ties, etc. It has worked out well.

Not much is coming out of the garden right now. It is just simply too hot. I am still getting some tomatoes and that is pretty nice. It should pick up again at the end of August.

Zucchini starts under the shade fabric.

Zucchini starts under the shade fabric.

The above picture shows the pvc hoops that the shade cloth is zip tied to. I went to my local hardware store and bought some 12 inch pieces of rebar and poked them into the ground on either side of the bed and then put the pvc pipes into them onto either side to create the hoops. Cheap and easy. In the winter, I use them also, but instead of the shade cloth, I put 4 mil plastic over them and make a kind of green house. I got the idea from Dave the Garden Guy, and it really works well.

New planter box on back patio.

New planter box on back patio.

Well, I believe that’s all for now. Keep cool!

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The Garden Is Growing

This morning I noticed how much the tomatoes have grown. There are small to medium tomatoes everywhere and they look the best they have ever looked! I’m always on the lookout for horn worms. Haven’t seen any so far. Thank heaven! Last week I did a foliar spray of fish emulsion on everything. I have noticed a little difference. I think everything definately needs it again. One of my pepper plants is nitrogen depleted. I need to do something about that today. Despite that, one of the plants has 2 peppers on it, which is wonderful. I found 2 small grasshoppers today, and relocated them to heaven, since a couple of years ago I didn’t do that and learned the hard way that they LOVE cucumbers. I lost all the plants. So, needless to say, that is not going to happen again.

I did have to replant okra today as only about 50 percent of the seeds ended up germinating. I don’t have real good luck with okra. I need to do some research into that. The seeds look so much like sweet pea seeds and maybe they would do better if I would soak them overnite.

Other seeds that were planted today were: lettuce, sunflower, nasturtium, pumpkin, lemon balm, black-eyed susan vine and carrot. This was done in an effort to stagger the maturity rate of the plants, or in other words, so I can have plants continuing to mature and not all at the same time. What is the word for that? My brain just can’t remember it this am.

Loving the SFG method, though. I do have a few squares empty for some more of something in a few weeks.

Yesterday, my hubby and I made a day trip to Sedona, AZ to pick up some wonderful tiles from Sid Dickens, which has absolutely nothing to do with gardening. However, the store where we were purchasing these at, had some other wonderful items, which were gardening things. The store is called, Hummingbird House, and is located in what used to be the very first market store in Sedona. They have restored it and carry gardening items as well as other home decor things as well. I happened to pick up a wonderful green iron tripod garden trellis with a cute little bird on the top. I love it!

I also picked up a beautiful little mexican redbud in a 5 gallon size at the Ace Hardware on the edge of Sedona. I’ve been looking for one of these for several years now and excited to get it into the ground.

Sounds like I have my work cut out for me in the garden for the next week or so, especially since I noticed the weeds are enjoying the weather as much as the everything else in the garden.

A new addition to the entrance of the garden.

A new addition to the entrance of the garden.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Pepper plant

Pepper plant

The iron tripod trellis from Hummingbird House.

The iron tripod trellis from Hummingbird House.

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SFG layout

Overal view of left side of garden

Overal view of left side of garden

Overall view of right side of garden
Overall view of right side of garden
Smart Pot
Smart Pot
Zucchini
Zucchini

Planning a semi-permanent garden style and layout is definately a big decision. I think that more than anything, it’s important to read as much as you can about a certain style and gather as many opinions from different people as you can, as well as attend some gardening classes if they are available. And even then, the only way to learn how to garden is to get out and garden!

For such a long time I would buy books, magazines and just dream about gardening and what I would do if I had a garden. And then one day I realized that if what I really wanted was a garden, I was the only one who was going to do it! It just really hit me that sitting around dreaming and thinking about it wasn’t going to get it done. I needed to get up and do it. Now, our back yard has been through a few phases in the short 4 years that we have lived here. I have been a fan of Mel Bartholomew’s book, “All New Square Foot Gardening”, after purchasing his previous edition off of a sale rack at the local book store. I have pored over those pages at night and carted it around in my car to read when I had spare time. So, I knew that I wanted to try it. So, I carted home some cement blocks from Home Depot and made a 4 foot by 4 foot square and filled it with soil and started a garden. It didn’t look very pretty. And I discovered that black widows loved to get up in the brick. This freaked me out and freaked my kids out. So, we moved the garden to the back corner of the yard.

My husband took all spring and into the summer 2 years ago to put the fencing in. That was a definate chore. But, necessary, considering that we have a crazy dog who likes to run through everything. And, it does look nice. But the general layout was done by me, with cedar boards screwed together as directed in Mel Bartholomew’s book. I did one bed at a time, because it was hard work. And I filled them with garden soil, one bed at a time, for the same reason. So, now I have 4 long beds measuring 4 ft by 12 ft. and 2 beds measuring 3 ft. by 12 ft. I don’t find the thinner beds easier to work with. They are both very easy to garden and plant and turn the soil over in. I have loved this style. I rarely get weeds in them, for whatever reason, I am not sure. I do get weeds in the pathways, which are now covered in small pea gravel. I do have to water every day, though. But the soil is so wonderful to work with, I can handle that. And I really have no tilling to speak of. My opinion of the square foot garden is all positive and if I had to choose all over again, heaven forbid, I would do the same thing.

I am trying a new thing this year. I purchased a “smart pot” from www.gardeners.com and put some russet seed potatoes in it. It is a pot that is a permeable fabric. It definately waters well. We will see how it does. I am kicking around the idea of purchasing another one to put some red potatoes in it.
In the picture above of the overall view of the left side of the garden, you can see that some of the broccoli has gone to seed. What happened was that in the fall, I planted some cabbage and broccoli in that bed. I then proceeded to schedule our family up so much with holiday activities that I was pretty worn out and just couldn’t muster up any energy to garden. I don’t think I watered that garden more than a handful of times. So, it was extremely nice of the weather to cooperate with me and give us all that rain. But when I went out to check out how the garden was looking a couple of months ago, I found the broccoli all gone to seed and covered in bees. And because I really need those bees, I have kind of left it that way for them. They really don’t bother me at all when I am watering. They are just busy little bees…
As you can see, the zucchini have gotten so much bigger since the previously posted picture. Seeds are the way to go! So easy, so much cheaper, and if they don’t sprout, put another seed in! No big deal!!!

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Hello world!

April 2008.

April 2008.

The sweet peas did well this year.

The sweet peas did well this year.

This was the 2nd summer garden in this space. It was even better than last year. The soil must be coming alive. YEA!! These pictures were taken early on in the season. I’m making plans for the fall. Hopefully, I’ll have time to work out in the garden (as long as the weather cooperates) next week.

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