More stuff

I thought I was almost done planting. I thought I was moving on to the cultivating stage of my veggie gardening. I thought wrong.
I want more stuff.
I need to build a couple more square-foot-gardening beds to grow more stuff.
I don’t have enough stuff growing.
I still have one more day in April.
I can do this.
I never planted cabbage, broccoli, or cauliflower.
I did not plant enough lettuce varieties.
I don’t have green beans growing anywhere.
Oh Eggplant Where Are Thou?

Surely my wife and kids will be fine without me while I grow more stuff. Wont’ they?


When I grow up…

…I want to be a Gardener.

How do you define a garden?

The answer to this question is important to me because depending on what it is, then it defines me, or at least part of me.

These days I hesitate to tell people that one of my favorite things to do is gardening. I am afraid that people get this idea that I tend beautifully designed English gardens with flowers and bushes placed in strategic locations to maximize the colors and scents.
Nothing could farther from the truth.
My garden is definitely blue collar and the most important issue to me these days is sunlight, specifically where it falls the longest in my yard.
So I tell people I grow plants instead. I figure that is the most accurate description of my activities.
It could be that I am just insecure. I do the same thing with my drawings. I don’t tell people I am an artist either. I draw, with pencil and ink. That’s all.
I am not a writer. I blog.
Or I suppose I could say that I am a gardener, just not a good one; but then that opens a whole new discussion on what “good” means. When I eat my first delicious salad made from stuff I grew myself, I may come to a different definition of “good” than when I am talking about how pretty my garden looks.
And really, Landscaping and Gardening can be mutually exclusive. I mean, a landscaper doesn’t have to grow a thing. He can simply get the plants from someone who grew them.
Does it really matter?
Why do I worry about stuff like this I will never know.
Maybe it is because we have a cold front running through the area and all my plant growing is at a standstill and all I can do is talk about growing plants instead of actually tending to my plants.

All my Irish Eyes sunflowers have real leaves now and I have radishes and lettuce in my square foot gardening beds now. It hit 31 degrees around 5 am this morning and when I left the house the thermometer was reporting 33 degrees. I’ll see this afternoon what effect the weather last night had on my seedlings.
I brought in my 5 tomato plants that are in containers. So far, my tomato plan is working as expected.

Sunny Sunday and the deal is done.

Not quite.
It was a beautiful day for gardening. Sunny, mid 60’s, with a gentle, caressing breeze. And Lexie, the destroyer:

Lexie is a stray puppy that we got from the pound. She has destroyed many things with those brand new teeth of hers. I wish I had better pictures of her but whenever I come close to take a picture she tries to eat the camera.
This is Lexie relaxing on the bed she “made” from the cushion from one of our yard chairs.

In spite of all her efforts, I managed to plant the purple onion sets I got two weeks ago, plus garlic. This is the first time I try to grow garlic
The only thing I knew about growing garlic is to plant it with the pointy end up. Lucky for me the bag the garlic came in told me how deep to plant it and how far apart.

Besides the garlic and the onion, the following went into my square foot gardening beds:
Apache salad onions – seedlings I started from seed
White onions – seedlings I started as well
Mignon carrots – same as above
Pink and red radish – sown directly in soil
Tom Thumb lettuce – sown directly in soil
TinTin lettuce – same as above
Head lettuce – same
Broccoli di Cicco – same as above

Once the beds were fully planted I secured the grids and attached the corner posts.

Here are both my Square Foot Garden beds. One is finished with the temporary protective wire cage. Next, I will finish putting the rock down around the beds. Last, I will build a fence around the bed area so that I can remove the individual wire cages.

Last year, I planted all my vegetables in a patch. I grew a lot of stuff in this plot but it was a lot of work keeping it weed free, that is why I decided on the Square Foot Gardening and self-watering containers for this season.
I still will use my garden patch this year. I will plant beans and peas, giant kale, giant sunflowers and maybe some more potatoes.
Part of the plot will be used for the upcoming green house. I am also planning on erecting a real fence around it. For now though, I am going to take a break.

Potatoes in the bag

I finally got to the Potatoes-in-a-bag project. I took two run of the mill, 27 gallon, yard bags and put one inside the other. Then I cut three drainage holes with a pair of scissors. Here is where I ran into my first challenge for once I cut the holes the two bags got out of alignment and the holes in the inside bag did not match with the holes in the outside bag. So now, I am not 100% sure about how well this set will drain.
For the second set, I waited until I put the soil in before I punched the draining holes.
I used garden soil instead of potting mix because it was cheaper.
I put 1 cubic quart of soil in the bag and watered it in preparation for the seed potatoes.

Finally I put the potatoes in and hope that the black bags warm the soil and encourage the plants to grow. As I add dirt to the bag, I will unroll it until I am satisfied I will not need to add any more soil.

I repeated the process and made a second set. I did not add any compost or fertilizer to the bag as the soil already had nutrients added.
The final step had to do with protecting the bags from Lexie, my rambunctious puppy. Here is the very temporary solution until I figure out something better:
I also got to sow my Irish Eyes sunflowers in peat pots, and I put my Galena tomatoes in peat pots as well.
I bought the lumber needed to protect my beds from Lexie but I did not get to work on that today. My friend Tim suggested that I enclose the area of the beds instead of enclosing each bed individually.
Tomorrow I will see about tackling more items from my to-do list.

tomato death watch

We had a thunderstorm come through last night. When I went to bed it was in the 70s so I left the tomatos out to get a little rain water. When I awoke this morning, it was 37 degrees…I looked at the tomatos and they sure seemed like they did not appreciate that big change in temperature. I slacked and did not check the weather and now I am examining the tomatoes every 30 minutes or so waiting for the moment of death…or maybe they’ll surprise me. (the temperature is up to 44 degrees and the sun is full out at the time of writing)

I also got to unpack and try my new gardening gadget. It worked really well on the loomy soil of the square gardening beds. I am somewhat conflicted about using a machine when I could be turning my soil the old fashion way but I think I will need this when the plants are fully developed and I need to cultivate around them. Plus, it really does save time and it allows me to target small areas.


Recharging the beds

It finally was nice enough on a weekend to do some gardening outside. My boys and I had breakfast at McDonalds and then went around town looking for 5 different types of compost. When we got home I had:

Humus and Cow Manure
Earthworm castings
Mushroom compost
Cotton Bur compost

I tried mixing compost like this after reading about it in the New Square Foot Gardening book. The theory behind it is that by mixing five different types of compost you get a better mix of nutrients for your plants. It worked really well for me last year.

Here is my compost all mixed and ready to go into the beds.

In the picture, you see my new gardening nemesis. A curious puppy who is only too happy to dig out anything I put in the ground.

I have three raised beds, two of which are truly square foot gardening beds –Mel says that it is not square foot gardening until you have a grid. The grids for the two 4×4 beds are made out of aluminum and I will put them on once I recharge the beds with the compost mix.

The third bed is a plastic one that I bought out of a catalog a couple of years ago. It is 3 feet by 3 feet and 12 inches deep. It has worked great for tomatoes, peppers, and even cantaloupes but this year, it will be my carrot box. Oh, I may put a pepper of two in there.

This year I decided to move the boxes and also I decided to put river rock around them to keep weeds away and to make it easier comes harvest time.

The problem with the river rock is that it is expensive and I did not buy enough to complete the job. I am secretly considering going to the Arkansas river nearby and get my own river rock.

The weather was great though a bit windy. The tomatoes in the self-watering containers (SWC) are still alive after three days of being outside. They look a little beat up but there is new growth on them.

Market Miracle

I wasn’t the only one who thought it was time to work on the garden. My help came ready to work hard but unfortunately I found their attention span wanting.

fickle work force
I noticed that my fruit trees are budding and that my pear tree actually has leaves. I feel bad for my fruit trees because I know that we will probably have at least one more hard freeze before Spring is firmly here and many of the buds and leaves will fall off.

pear tree leaves