Category Archives: Plans Of My Garden

Salsa and All Things Tomato

Last summer was the first in three that I had any success with growing tomatoes – so much so that I DID win (at least, I am claiming victory) Continue reading

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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 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?

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…

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.

 

Planting Big Garden – What’s Left

It’s been an eventful week including storms that prevented sowing the seeds after the tomato and pepper plants were successfully planted last weekend.

Two days ago, I did sow Arugula and a Heat Wave blend of lettuces. After watering the soil, I scattered the seeds and then dusted with a fine layer of loose dirt and watered again. I was hoping the damp soil would ‘glue’ them in place and the loose dirt was recommended on the packages.

Still, with the heavy rains yesterday, I am concerned that the little seeds are now in the pathways instead of their newly minted raised beds.  Will be watching.

And, yes, I know lettuces are better as a cool crop, but you already know my sad song about not getting to plant earlier. I am trying to promise myself to plant a late crop and should really go order the seeds now to force myself to really do it. Note to self…

Tonight I planted what I hope will become 7 okra plants and that I can keep the deer away. When left alone, okra grows really well in my zone 6 garden but I find I need several plants to have enough 3″ pods to really use for one meal. They tend to grow quickly and if they get much longer than that, they get tough and stringy, and dry. Which, if you are familiar with their usual goey-ness, is probably surprising. My kids love them since I introduced them as ‘stars’ when they were little.

Let me assure you that if you let little kids help grow them, they won’t have any preconceived notions of what is good or bad. I could get you to eat Brussels’ sprouts too, if I started when you were two.

And while I do agree that asparagus from the store may be more inclined to a mature palate, if you grow your own and pick them while pencil thin, they are so sweet they don’t even need to be cooked. In fact, they are a nice addition to a tossed salad.

Random musings aside, this is what goes in tomorrow night:

  1. 10′ x 10′ bed of Silver Queen corn – the ONLY kind we ever grow
  2. 10′ x 10′ bed of 4-6 varieties of pumpkin including  a variety that produced nearly competition sized pumpkins
  3. 10′ v 10′ bed of watermelon, cantaloupe, and zucchini

After that, I have two 4′ x 9′ beds, one to hold cutting flowers such as cornflower, bells of Ireland, cosmos, cleome,  larkspur, and another of various sunflowers.

Finally, I have to do the triangular herb beds:  one has a borage volunteer already in place. The others will likely get basil, dill, cilantro and any plants I get cheap.

I still have to figure out the addition of blackberries but that is for another story.

Finally, I have about 40 marigolds to go in in between the chives borders – anything to beat back the deer and the nematodes…

 

Making Raised Beds

My significant other doesn’t help with Big Garden much but he can be counted on to do the tilling and today, he got up and went to his father’s to borrow their tiller. By the time I got up after sleeping in (he forgot to bring me my coffee – to my bed – something I trained him to do years ago), the beds were all tilled but the dead weeds in the pathways still need much work.

Since I was functioning without caffeine, I didn’t immediately notice that one of my Better Boy tomatoes had disappeared and found itself planted in a white 5 gallon bucked inside the pool fence! Can I call it or what?! This is what being with someone for 25 years does…

Now it was up to me to pull all the loosened dirt into the squares, rectangles, triangles, and diamonds that make up the layout of the garden.

Tilling 053114

I am realizing from this picture that I need to pull compost gold out and add to the beds as the piles of dirt are dwindling. (Since I wasn’t there for the tilling, I didn’t get to direct how deep and wide to go, but compost is always a good addition!)

While I work on that, Donny says he will weed whip the dried up weeds into non-existence in the pathways.

Hopefully, we will get the tomatoes and peppers in tomorrow as well as cut back the rest of the chives – working on that theory that their smell will deter deer. I did spray the borders with Liquid Fence and found a shaker can of Deer Away to try too.

I got an email from Burpee that my seeds shipped Friday, so it will be evenings this week when I get the corn in.

Still and all, we are a little ahead of most years. If I get everything planted, next weekend is all about tearing apart that perennial border.

Gallery

Big Garden Plan 2014

This gallery contains 1 photos.

Despite some rain this week, this weekend looks promising for planting Big Garden. I know a lot of serious gardeners would have theirs in already, but it is just not possible here. We always have too much to do to … Continue reading

Gallery

You’d Avoid It Too

This gallery contains 3 photos.

To be frank, I have never been really satisfied with the border that faces Big Garden and I have struggled with trying many different plants in it. Some have passed on and more are about to do the same. Here … Continue reading