Tag Archives: chives

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…

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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.

Deer Proofing

Well, short of a 8′ fence surrounding Big Garden, the word “proofing” may be a misnomer.

Deer Provoking would likely be more accurate.

In the early years, I really had little problem with them. We’d see them in the yard, but they seemed unaware of my garden. Then, a couple of things happened that I attribute to changing my anonymous status:

  • We had a bad drought year and the thirsty critters discovered my tiger lilies near the pool and my hosta around the deck. I’d never seen deer this close to the house unless they were crossing the yard so their search parties must have been conducted at night
  • A new development went in across the street and some of their natural habitat was altered. It had always been my belief that there was so much for them to eat outside of my garden that they didn’t bother
  • I started growing okra and once they discovered those plants, they were hooked; young okra leaves must be deer crack

Over the years, I have tried a few things including sending my young boys out to take care of business (garden is too big around unless I fill then with a gallon of water a few hours ahead), hanging Irish Spring bars strategically (the soap went missing a week or so later and I actually thought the deer had eaten it in defiance before I found it nestled under melon leaves). I’ve tried a few different sprays and one did work fairly well. If you go this route, look for one that does NOT need to be reapplied after it rains.

Can’t remember the original source, but I have read that deer don’t like chives. One site suggests it is the smell – perhaps I should trim them when the okra are young so that garlicy-onion scent is pungent?

As the central diamond bed that has chives edging it has either needed to be divided or has offered volunteers, I have been edging the sides of the whole garden with chives. This year, I had enough to finish the right side and could get to the back if I did divide the original bed.

Of course, Donny scoffs at this and wants to grow his Better Boy tomato in an old 5 gallon bucket inside the pool fence. Now doesn’t that just sound attractive next to the Proven Winners and palms that I just paid good money for?

I did see a 42″ tall fencing kit with 16 poles and thought about ordering it, but it is really too short to deer proof, but $70 for a deterent isn’t too bad. I mentioned this to Donny who again laughed. He has other ideas, and being he is MacGyver reinvented, they may work.

So, aside from the chives, having a pool party of teen-aged boys, and the spray that worked well until last year, we are going to try a fishing line fence.

The theory of this is that the deer won’t see it but if they bump into several strands looping the garden at various heights they may move on.

My research says to try several systems and to switch them up. Saw a suggestion to make a tin can wind chime and that sounds fun. Didn’t find any on Pinterest so I’ll have to design my own – maybe spray paint the cans too?

I’ll let you know.

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Big Garden Plan 2014

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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