Category Archives: Garden Planning

Seed Starting

Last year, I noticed that my seed starting trays – an ABS system from Gardener’s Supply Co – were getting a little Continue reading

Advertisements

Seed Catalogs

IMG00190-20100808-2051                                                                  Time to start seed shopping – I finished going through and tossing old seeds. I think it is save to get rid any packed for sowing prior to 2010. Just saying… Continue reading

Best Intentions

When your 17-year-old son asks to stream “Arrow” with you, garden catalogs can wait another day!

Friday: Hot Date Night

I did RSVP to a Marriage Dinner for Valentine’s Day today – friends of ours celebrated their 25th Anniversary this year, so will be honored that night. So, I guess that kinda counts as a ‘Date Night’ with MacGyver, and I can then plan one with my seeds and seed catalogs too. Tomorrow it is! Such Friday night excitement!

Inventorying old seeds it dull, so I’d best do that first, and quickly. Get it over and done with, and all that good non-procrastination self-talk…

Then I can sit back with that glass of wine and dream of spring and summer while I stick Post-it tabs on beautiful flowers I have never tried before, yummy veggies I can’t wait to taste, and fresh seeds of the ‘Tried and True’.

When done, I might even take a peek at a book I purchased for .18 on Amazon at the suggestion of Carol, at May Dreams Garden, ( http://www.maydreamsgardens.com/):                                                                  ‘Gardening on Main Street’ by Buckner Hollingsworth. I’m anticipating this to be journal like and thoughtful as opposed to instructional and just what a wintry night needs.

Garden Planning

It’s about time to start the garden planning. After all, the first seed catalogs started hitting the mailbox on Dec 26th – a little too early for me but it’s now time:

  • Christmas has been put to bed
  • My office has been purged of old files
  • Tasks for my resolution items have been schedules
  • Football is wrapping up

First off, I need to inventory my seeds and toss any that are too old to be viable. I usually find that I can get 2-3 years from seeds that I plan to start indoors but I admit to sowing more heavily and picking out seedlings if I get too many. For plants that I can’t take the risk on, I buy new each year.

With the list of what are still in the seed packet box, it’s now time to sit down some cold wintry evening with a pleasing beverage, a stack of catalogs, and another stack of Post-it tabs. No editing at this stage –  I just mark everything that is interesting.

Next, I print out a clean copy of the garden template as well as those from the previous three years so I can review plant rotation. I’ve read of more exacting plans for 7 year rotations, but for the size of my garden, and the particular mix of 4′ x 4′, 4′ x 9′, and larger beds ranging from 9′ x 9′ to 12′ x 12′ beds, rotation is a little trickier. I stick to a three-year plan and that has been fine as I haven’t had any issues with either insects or diseases. I’m big on building the soil, so I credit that for my success:  I use not insecticides and very little fertilizer.

With the blank template, I mark in the tried and true plants that I know I will ALWAYS grow:  Silver Queen corn and Better Boy tomatoes among others. Sometimes, I know I am going to grow okra and no longer have seeds so don’t know what variety, for instance. This is where the fun comes in:

I go back through the tagged pages and woefully cut out what I can’t have due to space, time to grow, etc and then select which plants will be new to try. I always want arugula, but maybe this year I’ll try kale since we are suddenly eating it all the time.

Word to the wise, and one I am heading this year:  order seeds early, especially for anything marked as new – it can be very disappointing to find them sold out for the season.

Tomato Sacrifices

I’ve been meaning to write about this for about 10 days, but soccer and football and ‘back to school’ took over.

As you know, I always get a late start to my garden because of wet springs – typical here; too large a yard and a need Continue reading

Garden Revolution – In Honor of July 4th!

Big Garden 072809

 

 

 

 

 

Ahead of my original plan, I got a wild hair and decided I had some left over energy last Sunday afternoon, and ripped out the perennial border that I have been promising myself I would do.

Well, I really did it! And, all by myself, too! Continue reading

Gotta Love A (Gardening) Project

MacGyver and I are that odd couple who actually gets along better when we are working on a project,  side by side. I provide the challenge and he provides the solution – it works for us. Provided we both are interested in the results.

And, did I mention my love for fishing line and cable ties and conduit – many things we have done have involved those very items… Yeah, I know it sounds like a shopping list from 50 Shades, but we were doing it first…

While I love getting his help on my ideas, I especially love it when he helps with my gardening ideas. I only really get his time for that when it involves protecting the plants he is interested in:  tomatoes and corn.

So, it was with a twinge of sadness, and a surge of encouragement, that I announced just before dinner that my weeding trip to the garden had revealed a pile of deer scat, two okra seedlings with no leaves, nibbled borage, and the top missing from the in-ground Better Boy tomato (not to confused with the one in the ugly white 5 gallon bucket sitting in plain view! on the pool deck, behind fencing, and now also being supported by a new tomato cage. The cages in BG are old, rusty, and held together by…   wait for it…   cable ties! But, I digress…)

I had his attention now and he agreed to a post-dinner trip to Lowe’s to purchase 1/2″ conduit! I even suggested we use 3/4″ conduit to sink as sleeves into the ground – I looked brilliant! When I asked if I could wrap cable ties on the conduit in 1′ increments to act as ‘rests’ to prevent the fishing line from slipping down, I had him. This is engineering foreplay at its best!

Conduit

When we returned from said shopping trip with seven conduits (1/2″ diameter, 10′ long), he then promptly found seven scraps of 3/4′ conduit that could be cut to 18″ lengths with one end hammered to a point so that they can be driven into the ground as sleeves. (See? After 25 years, I have learned a thing or two. Having taken a Strengthsfinder 2.0 test after being downsized a few years back, I was classified as a Maximizer – surely only because hubby has rubbed off on me…)

Oh, I also admitted that I had done a little research on-line for how this deer fencing could work but admitted that I hadn’t seen anything too ‘official’ – just from fellow bloggers and on Pinterest.  Hook, Line , and Sinker!

Then, something even funnier happened. MacGyver went to YouTube for some more ‘expert opinions’ of how to do this than I could offer and we enjoyed three videos about preferred methods of fencing out deer:

  1. Bamboo stakes holding 12-15 lb test fishing line along the length of the garden with overturned buckets at intervals supporting tin cans tied to the line that fall when a deer moves the line – interesting…
  2. 30 lb test fishing line held taut between stakes – I have 15 lb so will upgrade as this post mentioned trials and errors with thinner and thicker line
  3. A more complicated system involving lines layered diagonally to create a fencing system wider than my area will allow but one that can be lifted for mowing

All of these seemed sensible and insightful until we struck upon a video about designing a water spraying device to deter a cat using motion detection. After many minutes of admitted epic failure on the trials of making the system work, the host admitted that it had taken him 3 weeks to perfect the system only to find that the wannabe banished cat had, in fact, been put to sleep two weeks earlier.

Maybe it is my snorting laughter that keeps MacGyver inspired?

Weeds

Didn’t make it out to the garden this evening due to thunderstorms late afternoon and a work appointment at 6pm. Thought I would get there but didn’t eat until 8:40 so daylight ran out.

I’ve sworn to myself that I would keep ahead of the weeding this year. It is usually the hopelessness of ever catching up with them that leads to my letting the garden fail. So, I worked hard to get most of my beds mulched with grass clippings with the exception of the melons/squashes and pumpkins – which I should be able to do tomorrow evening after the boys cut the lawn. Now that the corn is up, I can finish mulching around the seedlings and not just between the rows, as it is now covered. That leaves the areas where I planted seeds directly that I am still waiting on:  sunflowers, herb triangles, and the cutting flowers bed.

It is the flower bed that I am most concerned about and where I have been spending my time. Wanting a totally loose, cottagy feeling, I made a flower ‘mesclun’ blend of two cosmos, cleome, bells of Ireland, cornflowers and a zinnia that did little for me a couple of years ago but I still had the packet of leftover seeds, so I tossed them in. Really wished I had ordered some nicotiana to add to the mix.  I then scattered the whole lot over the 4′ x 10′ bed.

(If this works as I hope, I will plan better for next year – more varieties and more of seeds of each… See, the invasive gene again seeping into my planning –  I can’t help myself!)

Of course, the watering needed to germinate the new seeds worked its magic on the dormant weed seeds first. Not knowing what all the good seedlings would look like (cosmos and bells of Ireland are fairly distinctive if you have grown them before), I set out to pull only known weeds – there are three that I see every year but I really don’t know what they are. I don’t typically spend a lot of time learning what they are unless really provoked, like with wintercress – long story.

After tonight’s rain and a day of no weeding, I will really need to be committed tomorrow evening!

As to the sunflowers and herbs, I have resolved to do the following if things head south:

  • Purchase a few herbs from final sales and then mulch if no seeds come up
  • Solarize the sunflowers bed if nothing germinates (details to follow, if I have to go that route).

What A Difference A Week Makes

I didn’t want to admit it, but before I had that moment of clarity that explained my reluctance to face Big Garden, I didn’t think I would ever see it like this again.

Big Garden 0607014I probably should have taken a ‘before’ to fully explain the difference. Maybe I should interview my new neighbors who moved in last fall when it was at its worst and see IF they ever thought it would look this tidy?!

 

Surely not, if even I lacked faith!

Last weekend, I was still battling with the clean up after tilling and reforming the beds and the paths plus the weeds. After Saturday, everything is in but the marigold seedlings.

What you see in the foreground are the chives bordering the left side – the marigolds go in between. The first dirt beds are arugula on the right and heat wave mesclun on the left with okra to their left followed by the asparagus bed that has ended for the season. Behind them are  the tomatoes and just beyond on the right are the new blackberries with the triangular herbs surrounding the chives/alium diamond. (Still need to convince MacGuyver to make that tutuer I found on Pinterest to replace the defunct bird path.)

Back of BG 060714This behind the scene shot shows the backside of Big Garden where the sprawling crops grow. Stage right is the pumpkin patch; its’ 10′ x 12′ bed (I am adjusting measurements as I realize I have under-estimated in some cases) probably isn’t really big enough for the 5 varieties I have sown, but we will make it work. We typically get a nice number of pumpkins – not enough to sell, but more that we would ever buy and we have a fun Halloween display.

To the left is where the corn – always Silver Queen – was sown last night. We had a three-man team working this and it was the most pleasant experience to date. Usually, it is back-breaking! Significant Other (he is only really interested in the Better Boys and the Silver Queens) put in sticks at each end at 2′ intervals and then laid a tape measure between so that Thing Two could use the dibber to make holes every 6 inches. ‘SO’/MacGuyver  dropped a seed and then I, suddenly and unceremoniously  referred to as ‘Dirt Woman’ (really, no reference to my Kindle book list, I swear!) plopped loose dirt over each hole. We got 232 seeds sown in no time.

And just to the left of that bed are the squashes and melons:  acorn and spaghetti squash, zucchini, and cantaloupe and a yellow watermelon.

The two back edges that are not the corn bed will be bordered with REALLY tall sunflowers – 12-18 feet. When and where did I purchase those seeds? Insane!

What you can’t see if the left half of the front beds. More to come…