Category Archives: Gardening Learning

Taunton’s Out Of Print ‘Kitchen Gardener’

When first introduced, I had a subscription to ‘Kitchen Gardener’ – I believe I discovered it while visiting a magazine booth at a local gardening show. Continue reading

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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

The End

Wow! I can’t believe I am still actually working in Big Garden – all the way to “The End” instead of just Continue reading

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

The Deer Fence Saga Continues

After one full week, we have had two invasions over the fence. The first was not bad and we really tried to convince ourselves it was previous damage.

However, last night was practically a smorgasbord. 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).

Blackberry Ramblings

Aside from rhubarb, I have not been a successful fruit/berry gardener yet. To be fair, those plants have fallen to Donny most of the time. At one time or another we have tried strawberries, blueberries, a kiwi that was supposed to be perennial even in zone 6 and gooseberries. The last two were my additions. All failed for one reason or another.

Strawberries were something Donny had grown in his father’s garden growing up, so that was his first suggestion. They grew but I forget why he ripped them out; maybe they didn’t produce well or were too much work.

About the same time, and this was a while ago, he put in a couple of blueberry plants but the birds got them before we did and an occasional harsh winter took their toll. I also seem to remember that our soil conditions weren’t well suited but knowing how to grow them was not my job.

The kiwi turned out to not be so perennial and the gooseberries, coincidently planted in a be that we’d mistakenly first planted with gooseneck loosestrife*, had thorns and no one liked the taste.

So, it is a little unusual that I debated converting a big  (9′ x 10′) bed in the front of the garden to blackberries. But, I didn’t need it for rotation purposes since expanding the back of the garden to include 3 9′ x 10′ foe corn and vining plants like pumpkin and melons. I debated too long to order plants – see a returning theme here?

Today I picked up two plants from a local nursery who recommended that 2-3 plants were all I needed for the space. I decided to be conservative with the space with only two. Maybe I am learning from past errors?

I hope so because now I have to learn how to make these plants productive enough to justify their vast space.

I did do a little research and got tow varieties even though they are self-pollinating; one website I visited suggested this and the nursery agreed. I have a Triple Crown and a Chester, both in  2-gallon pots so not bare root. In fact, there already some berries on them. I will be looking for pie recipes next!

 

*If you are a new gardener and someone offers to give you plants because they have “plenty”, accept them graciously as you are being useful, but compost them – you can always claim to have forgotten to water them. Just DON’T put them in your garden or you too will soon be looking for another newbie to pawn them off on.

 

Crop Rotation

I know I am supposed to do this – not replant the tomatoes where they were last year. And, I do it and keep records. Plus I kind of know why – surely I read a better description of why when I first started gardening than I could offer off the top of my head.

So, while trolling through Pinterest, I found this cute little chart “Garden Crop Rotation – A Simple System” and with my new vow to only Pin valid information, I clicked through to find the original source.

I am happy to say the following:

  1. Original sourcing did exist
  2. It does look simple to follow
  3. The reasoning is good
  4. I learned something too!

Check it out – it explains much better than I could about the sequencing of the rotations. I am doing it on a three year rotation and have heard of complex plans for 7 years that I never bothered with.

What this plan explains so well is not only do the tomato-loving bugs (and the diseases that befall tomatoes) wake up next spring in bed where they can’t find tomatoes, but the sequence also utilizes soil nutrients as needed by particular plants and/or builds back soil depleted by the previous crops:

  • leaf needs nitrogen
  • fruit needs phosphorus but not too much nitrogen
  • root needs potassium and even less nitrogen than fruit
  • legumes resupply nitrogen for the leaf crops that follow

And so on…

It’s too late for me to do this for 2014 but I certainly plan to address it for next year.