Category Archives: Gardening

Last Harvest of 2017

Yesterday I had to wait half the day for the temperatures to get above freezing. When I looked at my lettuce at the end of the afternoon, it was clear that I should harvest what I could and call the end of the season.  We got a nice harvest of bibb lettuce, and we’ll enjoy that in a salad tonight.  This afternoon, when it warms up a bit more, I’ll go out and clean out the remainder of the lettuce from my square foot garden.

The only ‘garden’ I have right now is the tomato plant and the celery plants on my window sill in the dining area. I’m hoping that the elephant ear and purple passion plants will stay alive in the greenhouse.

Soon I’ll start planning what seeds to plant and when in my new greenhouse!

 

 

 

 

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Winter is Here

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In about 45 minutes my husband and I will go to Lunch Bunch – our long time, every-possible-Friday lunch with good friends. We’ve been doing this for years and I really miss it if we don’t go for some reason.

It’s 21 degrees F out there right now. I’m not even sure if I should just leave my lettuce covered up with a sheet until it gets above freezing or not. The high is supposed to be 42, I think. This may be a moot point, since my sweet lettuce plants may have croaked last night – sheet or not sheet. When it gets this cold, it’s beyond the frost or light freeze stage. If it’s gone, I’ll be a bit sad, but we’ve had a really nice crop this year and I shouldn’t be over-greedy. I’m looking forward to the spring when – hopefully – I’ll have some robust, healthy plants grown in my greenhouse ready to go into the garden.

I’ll see what the temperature is when we get back from lunch and errands and then make the decision whether to uncover the plants today or not.  I’m looking forward to seeing what mischief I can get into the rest of the day.

Stay warm and dry!

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Composter

We built a composter a couple of years ago. I finally made a good batch of compost this year!

I say this as if I won the lottery because even though I followed directions I found in books and on the net, I ended up with the wrong combination of ingredients and ended up dumping it out (holding my nose) and washing out the inside of the composter with a hose.

I’ve finally learned to add a whole lot more yard waste and much less food waste in order to come up with something that I hope will be a good addition to the composts for the square foot garden.

I cleaned it out today because I don’t want to leave it in there for the winter. In the picture above, you can see that we used a plastic food container type barrel we bought from the hardware store. We poured a concrete pad for the composter to sit on, with stakes coming up out of the concrete. We pounded the legs onto the stakes to make a good, sturdy support for the composter. We cut the opening in the front, making it so it opens wide enough to put new items in easily or use the tool my husband made for scooping the compost out. The barrel is on rollers. We attached handles on three spots around the barrel so you can pull the barrel, rolling it over and mixing the ingredients inside. This way you can be sure everything is mixed well.

This is the tool my husband made. It’s rounded to conform to the inside of the barrel, making emptying it really easy. It has a rubber grip, and the tool is plenty long enough to reach all areas on the inside of the barrel. The tool “lives’ on its side beside the composter.

You can see one of the three handles on the top of the composter. The metal ‘wand’ keeps the latches shut and the door firmly closed. My husband made the handle for it on the mill. The end slides through the parts of the latches, or pulls out if you’re opening it up. The end also helps pry the ends of the latches up.

After cleaning out the composter today, the trash can under it is a little over 1/3 full. We can mix up Mel’s Mix behind the shop, and then wheelbarrow some out to add our own compost to the mix next spring.

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Ready for Winter?

We’re pretty much ready for winter now.

I finished mulching the flower planters yesterday – finally.

We cleaned out two square planters in order to plant new Rio Samba rose bushes in the spring. We converted two brick planters to be square foot planters for tomatoes, so four of our brick planters didn’t need mulch. The other 10 did. I feel good that things are cleaned out and protected now.

I dug up the elephant ear plant, potted it, and put it in the greenhouse.

 

Same for the Purple Passion plant. (I put two starter plants in water beside the big one. It would be fun if I could get those to grow. )

The jugs of water are an attempt to keep the plants warm in the greenhouse during the winter. I’m hoping the water will warm up during the day and keep the plants warm at night.

The Bibb lettuce is still doing well in my square foot garden.

 

Here is the Simpson lettuce. Both are in the same raised bed box, so when we have a freeze coming, I just have to cover one box with a sheet and clothespins. I’m hoping I can keep these alive for at least another month, if not more, depending on Mother Nature.

I’ve started two celery plants in pots on the window sill. I’ve never tried this before, so it should be fun.

 

This tomato plant is also on the window sill. I’m hoping I can keep it alive for the winter and replant it in the spring. Fingers crossed!

I still need to clean out the plants on the deck, but these are much easier to handle. They can wait for another day.

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Planters are Cleaned Out

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We started the day with Lunch Bunch and good friends, and I’ve spent most of the afternoon outside. What could be better?

I just got the last brick planter cleaned out, the elephant ear and Purple Passion plants, dug up, potted, and put in the greenhouse. Tomorrow I’m planning to spread the rest of the mulch and we’ll be pretty well ready for the colder weather to come.

I found three small hydrangea blooms, so I brought them in and added them to the purple iris I gathered the other day.

I have two more celery plants that are ready to plant. I’m thinking of planting them either in the greenhouse or inside on the window sill. I’ll read and see if I can find out what people think is best.

Starting on Tuesday night we’re supposed to have freezes for at least three nights in a row. I only have the one box of lettuce plants to cover. I’m hoping I can keep them alive to harvest for quite a while longer. Fingers crossed.

I’m going to go have a snack, put my feet up and relax for a while. I hope you’re having an enjoyable day.

 

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Last of the Flowers?

I have one more hydrangea plant to prune before filling the planter with mulch, but I’m pretty sure this is the last of the blooms for the year. I gathered the twice-blooming iris so that we could enjoy them inside. (These usually bloom in April and October – I’m not sure what’s happening this year, but I’ll sure take it.

Today I’m going to see if I can finish cleaning out the planters and getting them ready to mulch. I have 5 left to clean out – three 8-foot planters and two small, tall planters on each side of the front porch. I’m hoping I have enough mulch to finish filling things up.

I’ll prepare pots for the elephant ear and Purple Passion plants, digging them up carefully and putting them in the greenhouse. If it gets too cold in there over the winter, I won’t have lost anything, since I would have dug up the bulbs after the freezes got them and stored them in peat moss in the garage. I’m hoping it won’t get too cold in there. I’m filling lots of small jugs with water and hoping the sun will warm them each day and they will keep the plants warm at night. We’ll see. Fingers crossed!

Have a wonderful day!

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So Lucky

Williams Sonoma Raised Bed Planter – $179.00 plus shipping.

This is typical of what is called a “raised bed planter.”  It’s wonderful because you don’t have to worry about building up your soil or heavy duty weeding as you do in typical gardens. You can grow a good amount in a much smaller space, and it’s up from the ground. This is a nicely made one offered by Williams Sonoma.

When we first started square foot garden, this is what we did. We had two rows of raised bed planting areas –  The thing is, I still had to either bend over double to plant, weed, and harvest things from this. It was good, but it didn’t go far enough.  I’m old and I can’t do a lot of kneeling or bending over double anymore.

 

We decided, when the wood was beginning to deteriorate, that we could do better.

 

When we decided to break down what we had and redo it, we made metal table-like supports for boxes to ‘sit’ in. They are at about chest level on me, comfortable to stand up and be able to reach any side of the boxes with an easy reach. I have six 4’x4’x8″ wooden boxes on my supports, with hoses stretched down each row of three boxes for automatic timed irrigation. I can spray weed killer under the boxes or around the perimeter of the whole garden without bothering my veggies.

I stretch string across the wooden boxes to create 1 foot planting areas. Then I can plant according to the advice of Mel (the square foot gardening expert), either one plant in a square (cauliflower, broccoli, etc.), 4 plants in a square (lettuce, spinach, etc.), 9 plants in a square (carrots), or 16 plants in a square (radishes.)

I can plant standing up or sitting on a tall stool. I can pull weeds or harvest without kneeling or bending over double. The Mel’s Mix (peat moss, vermiculite, and as many different kinds of compost as you can find) has all the nutrients needed for the plants, replenished when you harvest all of a plant when you add a bit more. The soil’s consistency is such that pulling weeds is easy. The planting plan makes it easy for a beginning gardener like me to see what is a ‘good plant ‘vs a ‘weed.’

I’m really lucky that my husband spoils me rotten, figuring out how to tackle things like building the square foot garden in the first place, then improving it when we needed to pull up what we had done after several years. We also built the new greenhouse recently so that I can hopefully grow my own transplants, rather than having to depend on what is sold in stores locally. I’m hoping I can get a jump on the spring season, plus have more transplants growing in the greenhouse, ready to plant in the garden at the proper time.

Trying to grow some of our own veggies, plus flowers around the yard, is one of my favorite things. There is never enough time or energy – or cooperating weather – to do all I’d like to do. :0)

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Greenhouse Repair

This picture shows you the break in the pvc pipe rib for the greenhouse.

 

My husband drilled into the wood uprights on either side of the louvered fan and attached guy wires to the wood.

 

He used a cement drill to drill a hole in the ground at the proper angle for the guy wires, ran the wire around the stake (held in place by a hose clamp.

This picture shows you the completed guy wire fix for the end of the greenhouse.  It’s nice and sturdy now, thank goodness.

 

Here’s the fix from the side.

So, thanks to my wonderful husband, things are once again in good shape. He’s definitely a keeper.

When he came in, and could man the phone, I went out and got an 8 foot brick planter cleaned out where we have two really large hydrangea plants. I cut off all the branches and disposed of them. I have 4 more planters to clean out and then I’ll put mulch in them. :0)

 

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Gardening, Housekeeping - Maintenance, Lewis projects

Best Laid Plans

I was PLANNING to clean out another flower planter yesterday. My husband came in and told me we had a problem with the greenhouse. The end ‘wall’ you’re looking at in this photo had broken loose because the last pvc pipe ‘rib’ closest to the lumber had broken. The rib isn’t repairable. We would have to take the whole end of the greenhouse apart and replace the whole rib,  probably resulting in more damage.

My husband, who is really good at figuring out how to fix things, figured out that we could attach heavy wire (like that used in the guy wires for the ham radio tower) to the upright pieces of wood on either side of the louvered exhaust fan. He is outside as I type (waiting for an important phone call we’re expecting) drilling a hole some distance away from the end of the greenhouse. He’ll then pound in a metal stake with the sledge hammer. Then we’ll attach the wires with what I think are called turnbolts – metal things with rings on each end and a threaded length in between that you can turn to tighten the wire until it’s taught.

 

The stake and ‘guy wire’ type attachment should keep the end of the greenhouse secure. I’m not sure what he’s planning about the broken pvc pipe. Maybe we can just ignore it and rewrap the transparent liner stuff on the end carefully.

Anyhow, my best laid plans had to be set aside, once again, in order to try to fix the greenhouse – again before it is forecast to rain today…  I’m lucky to have a guy who can look at something and figure out how it works and what needs to be done to fix it. I don’t have a clue – although I’m a pretty good helper and ‘gofer.’

If I can get the yard under control for the winter, I’m planning to start moving things around in the greenhouse, getting ready for planting seeds later. I’ll post pics as I get things organized in there.

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Getting Flower Beds ready for Winter

Since we have no soil, other than what was trucked up here 30 years ago, my husband, son and I built 14 brick planters of varying sizes and shapes around the yard and filled them with potting soil.

Recently, we’ve converted two of them to raised bed square foot planters so that we have a better place to grown tomatoes each year. (My husband says I can try to grow anything I’d like, as long as we have plenty of home-grown ripe tomatoes. :0) )

We cleaned out two more, having decided to start over with our favorite Rio Samba Roses in the spring. These are empty now, except for soil. (Our lab puppy, Amber, is determined to dig in the planters, spreading soil each time she goes out. We’re in the process of trying to deter her. )

That leaves 10 brick planters that I need to prune and otherwise clean out, and then mulch with the leaf mulch I’ve been making so that all is protected for the winter.

So far three of the 10 are finished.

 

Three planters are end to end between the civilized part of the front yard and our driveway. Please ignore the leaves you see on the ground. My eye injury has put me way behind on raking leaves and making mulch. It’s on my list….

 

 

This is the planter in the middle of the three.

 

This is the planter on the other end.

So far, today, I’ve cleaned out one more planter –

As soon as I get a few more planters cleaned out, I’ll distribute mulch.

Here is a close up of the mulch I’m making and distributing –

 

We’re going to do errands in a bit, and after we’ve had lunch, I’ll try to get at least one more planter cleaned out today.

I hope you’re enjoying your day, too!

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Mulching, Matilda….

I just finished spreading two of the four large leaf bags of mulch I made recently. I wore Targa 2  “Racing” Goggles we had on hand while I did it, not wanting a repeat of the eye scratches I got when I made the mulch a little over a week ago.

The next step is cleaning out more brick flower planters. THEN I can probably distribute the rest of the mulch.

Exciting, huh.

Actually, I DO find it exciting that I can make my own mulch, cleaning up many of the leaves in the yard as I do, and not have to pay for bag after small bag of mulch I used to buy at the local hardware store each fall. As I remember, it was about $3.00 or so per bag, and I used about 20 of them one year. So I’m saving money, cleaning up, recycling, and mulching my plants for the winter!

And, between the weeding and cleaning out of my square foot garden, plus distributing the two 39 gallon trash bags of mulch, I’ve gotten a good amount of exercise and fresh air today.

If the weather is cooperative tomorrow, I’ll try to get more planters cleaned out, working my way around the yard.

 

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Filed under Arkansas, Bright Ideas, exercise, Gardening, Greenwood

Garden Update 2017-11-26

Amber went out with me to finish cleaning up the garden today. She tried to eat some big faux terra-cotta pots, but that was the only behavior I had to warn her about. Otherwise, when I took a break, I called her. She came every time, knowing she would get a small treat. :0)

 

5 of the 6 raised bed square foot garden boxes are now cleaned out, ready for the winter. I still have two kinds of lettuce and one spinach plant in the 6th box. When freezes threaten, I now have only ONE box I need to cover with a sheet.

In the spring, I’ll mix a bunch of Mel’s Mix (peat moss, vermiculite, and as many different types of compost as I can get or make (I’m using some I made, cotton boll compost, mushroom compost, and barnyard compost). I’ll fill the boxes up to the rim and then use string (that hopefully won’t deteriorate in the sun as the stuff I used this year did), and I’ll be ready to plant.

I took this to give you a close up of the Mel’s Mix, and part of the irrigation system for the garden.

I’m going to rest a bit and then see if I can get the trio of brick planters between the civilized part of our front yard and the driveway filled with mulch.

I hope you’re enjoying your Sunday.

 

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Gardening Odds and Ends – 2017-11-25

When I went out to the garden this afternoon, I had prepared myself for everything to be gone, as we had two freezes while I was in the worst phase of my eye injury. To my delight, my lettuce was still going! I took two pictures because I put the two kinds of lettuce, plus a few leaves of spinach, in the same pile to be washed, dried, and put into two gallon storage bags.

 

There is Simpson lettuce, which is the frilly, lighter green lettuce; and there is Bibb lettuce, a darker shade of green with more leaf-like shape, and finally the darkest green, the few leaves of spinach I harvested today. I was so pleased that in our Thanksgiving salad, about 2/3 of it was from the garden!

 

I splurged and bought this mainly for the seeds and plants I’ll have in the greenhouse. I wanted a good mister, and this one got some of the best reviews I saw, plus it’s a burgundy/light purpley color that makes me smile every time I see it. :0)

Besides the harvesting, I cleaned out three of the six raised bed boxes in the garden today. If the weather is cooperative, I’ll try to clean out two more, leaving the one with the lettuces and spinach to cover for the next freeze. I’ll try to get some pics of the garden when it’s cleaned out tomorrow.

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Last of the Flowers?

We may be to the last of the flowers now. Although it hasn’t been down to freezing again yet, we had a cold snap that has pretty much stopped things from blooming any more in our area.

I brought in these hydrangea yesterday. Even my husband reacted when he saw them on the table. I’ll be glad when we can take them a little bit for granted next spring and summer.

 

 

I also found some twice-blooming iris, probably the last for the year, that we can enjoy.  It would be really nice if we could enjoy these through Thanksgiving!

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Iris in November

With all the iffy weather we’re having lately, I cut these iris and brought them in for us to enjoy. I just couldn’t stand them to be beaten up by wind and rain and cold. They make me smile every time I go into the kitchen.

 

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November 14, 2017 Harvest

Isn’t this carrot cute?  It’s about an inch and a half long. I pulled it up to see what the status was of the carrot seeds I sprinkled in the garden several weeks ago. I don’t know if I can keep the garden alive long enough to grow reasonable sized carrots, but these are the first I’ve tried to grow in a long time. I’ll definitely try to get some started in the greenhouse in February or so.

 

I have so much lettuce We probably won’t be able to eat it all. I’ll give some to my friends as I can. This is Simpson lettuce. The Bibb lettuce is also doing really well, but I’ll wait a bit longer to harvest some of that.

 

This is from the sole spinach plant I have in the garden. It makes a nice addition to salads. I’m looking forward to trying to get a bunch of spinach started in the greenhouse in late winter, along with lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, and onions.

I have one tomato plant still alive on the window sill in the house. I don’t know if it will live or not, but I’m hopeful.

 

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Good Workout

If anyone asks you, blowing leaves into piles, then picking them up and putting them in the mulcher is a really good workout. I’ve only been working an hour and I’m pooped.

I have to say that this is a perfect day for leaf gathering and mulching. The temperature is 62 degrees F. with a slight breeze, and mostly overcast. If you’re just sitting out there, it’s chilly. If you’re working like a stevedore, like I am, you’re still sweating, but the breeze cools you off when you stop.

I have half a 39 gallon bag of usable mulch so far. This has been through the mulcher twice and is ready to put into the flower planters. I’ve used the leaf blower to make another humongous pile of leaves, but I’m resting and drinking lots of water before going out again. The task is endless, but I’m going to TRY to clean up the civilized part of the front yard today.  Since it’s supposed to be rainy Tuesday through Friday, that’ll probably be it for the week.

I can’t begin to tell you how filthy I am. I sat down in my computer chair and there was a ‘huff’ with fine leaf powder that poofed out. I’m like that all over. Needless to say, I’ll hit the shower when my energy is sapped and work outside for the day is finished.

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Maniac Mulcher

I THINK the leaves are dry enough today that I can blow them into piles and put them through our leaf mulcher. If they aren’t, I’ll have to wait until NEXT week, since the rest of the week here is supposed to be rainy.

I just finished unhooking and gathering the extension cord we’ve been using for the greenhouse. This was a job, because we had TWO 75 foot HEAVY extension cords linked together to get from the house to the greenhouse. I THINK I have the greenhouse ready for winter now. My basic book for using a greenhouse says that I can extend my growing season in the spring by starting seeds for hardy plants, such as broccoli and cauliflower, in mid February, and most other early spring plants, such as lettuces, spinach and such at the beginning of March. Until then, things will be idle out there, though I’ll get out and try to organize for seed planting soon.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to do things like final weed whacking, clean up, mulching, pruning, etc. to get ready for winter.  I’ll also harvest lettuce from the raised bed, square foot garden. I have two kinds of lettuce, Bibb and Simpson, carrots and celery left.

Right now, we have so many leaves in the front yard, you can hardly tell there is any grass under there.

This is our mulcher.

 

We attach a 39 gallon trash bag to the bottom part (orange). We dump the leaves in the top and run the mulcher to put the mulched leaves into the bag. Then I run the bag full again, because the first time doesn’t get nearly as small as I would like. Then the bags go into the garage until I have the flower planters cleaned out, and then I’ll fill them up with the mulch we’ve made.

This time of the year, it’s all I can do to try to get everything outside done, so I’m not doing yoga or my elliptical trainer until things are under control.

I hope the weather where you are is cooperating with your plans today.

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Filed under Arkansas, Gardening, Greenwood, Mother Nature, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

Feeling Creaky

For the past two days I have been mixing and spraying weed killer. We’ve had really perfect weather for it, except for a bit too much wind, but I was able to work around that. It needed to be sunny and in the 70s or 80s, and we had both of those.

On Saturday I mixed and sprayed 6 gallons.  Yesterday I did the same. There is always more than could be done, but I got a pretty good job done. If we get another good day, my husband says that if I’ll mix it, he’ll spray the weed killer up and down our 650 foot driveway – if I’ll drive down to the bottom and pick him up. :0)

Meanwhile, our work outside is done until the rains are finished for the week and it’s a bit warmer in the afternoons. I have to admit I feel pretty creaky today, so it’s a nice thing to be forced to work inside. :0)  I tried to get down the awful, rocky slope past the civilized part of the back yard yesterday to spray the weed trees remaining, slipped and fell down, injuring my dignity, but nothing else. It took me several minutes to get up, since the bare rocks and dirt don’t provide good hand or foot holds, but I managed, inelegantly, to haul my rear end up and get back to the civilized part of the yard.  Fortunately, one of my survival skills is the ability to stand back and “see” myself from a distance at times like these. I was laughing and saying bad words simultaneously.

I told my husband that we’ll have to burn the trees down or hire someone more agile than I to cut them down.

 

 

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Watch Out, Weeds!

Starting Monday, we have really good chances of rain all next week with lower temperatures as we reluctantly give up the summer season for fall/winter in Arkansas.

Lately it has been really windy most of the time. I’ve been waiting for a dry, relatively calm day to do some serious weed killing around here. I’m going to concentrate on working my way around the yard, starting around my garden and the shop. I don’t how many times I’ll need to mix another 2 gallons of spray, but I’ll just try to space things out, resting in-between, until I have everything coated.

I use KillzAll, thanks to a recommendation from my good friend, Cathy. At first I didn’t think my efforts had any result. But Cathy warned me that it would take a bit of time before I saw any results. I was amazed at how well it did.

I weedwhacked around the perimeter of my garden and around the shop propane tank and then sprayed the KillzAll. There are STILL no weeds, and it has been weeks! Hooray!

It seems to work better if you use the weed whacker first and then spray, but I’m really interested in getting a good coating of the stuff on the weeds this weekend. I’ll do that, and THEN finish weed whacking as I can  and hope it is just as effective.

So, if you see an old lady hoisting a sprayer with a wand, and a maniacal look in her eye, WATCH OUT! She might be in the mood to consider YOU a weed!

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Two For One

Craftsman Push Weed Eater

I just spent over an hour using our push weed whacker (Craftsman calls it a weed EATER).  I find this to be a two-for-one thing: good exercise and character-building both at one time.

‘Good exercise’ because nothing in our yard is flat. I’m either trying to get it to go uphill, fall in a hole, or hit rocks or a hard clump of weed that cause me to really work. I rested once outside, then did another hitch before coming in. I was really breathing hard, hot (it got to 90 degrees F. today!) and my hips were screaming.

‘Character-building’ because I worked harder than I would have normally because I really wanted to get the area I was working on DONE. I went all the way around my square foot garden perimeter, around the garden bins, around the shop propane tank, and the whole area beside the shop out to the garden.

I have a lot more weed whacking to do, but I’ll do the rest with one of our hand-held weed eaters.

Now my husband can run the gas out of this and put it away for the winter.

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Weathering the Weather

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I’m delighted to tell you that my veggies and my tender flowers seem to have made it through the 2nd freeze of the weekend! I just came in from taking the sheets off of everything. The rest of the week is supposed to be warmer with no freezes, so, once I get all the sheets dry, I’ll store them in the shop for the next time.

Our 65+ pound ‘puppy’ Amber seems to love the cooler weather.  She is actively sniffing everything while we’re around the garden, following paths all over the yard while I stand shivering, holding wet sheets in my arms. After waiting for what seems like a LONG time, I finally put the sheets on the ground, throw my arms in the air and yell, “Run like a bunny!” Amber looks delighted, and then tears off running as fast as she can all the way across the yard, around the house and back out to me by the garden. She then demands a treat, which I give her. And THEN she’s amenable to going “IN.”

I’m hoping that it’ll warm up enough this afternoon that I can do some weed whacking.

I hope that wherever you are right now, the weather is bringing you pleasure.

 

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Brrrr!

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It was UP to 32 degrees this morning at 8:30, when I went to uncover my plants. We still had the a/c on a couple of weeks ago! I bundled up and took Amber out to the garden with me to uncover my veggies. It LOOKS like they came through the freeze last night and this morning, but lettuce, in particular, is fragile, so I’m not sure yet. PLUS, it’s going to do it again tonight.

I brought in my two newest tomato plants and put them by the window in the dining room. I’m learning from my good greenhouse book that the greenhouse won’t protect my plants from freezing without a heater  (DUH) – something we just can’t afford. We won’t put a/c out there, either, so it looks like what I’m going to be trying for is the longest regular growing season I can get – maybe from mid or late February through the next December or January. I’m getting lots of good, practical information, and I’ll be sharing that with you as I use it.

I gathered up the sheets I had put over the plants in the garden, plus the one I put over my elephant ear and exotic purple plant that my friend, Laufrain, gave me. The sheet for the flower planter was fine, so I just left it on the ground to be put over the plants tonight.

The sheets I put over the garden plants, though, were thoroughly soaked, with a thick layer of frost still on the sheets at 8:30! I’m running each of those through the dryer so I can use them again tonight.

If we can just make it through tomorrow morning, I think our weather is due to go back to more fall-like temperatures with no freezes for a bit. Hooray!

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Getting Ready for the Freeze

Arkansas doesn’t do a great job of winter.

We have a short fall, going from 90+ degree weather a week ago to a projected freeze Friday night and Saturday night, and then returning to fall for awhile longer, while threatening bad ice storms, rather than pretty snow throughout the winter.   I hate this sudden short weekend of freezes because it kills my flowers. I cover up the raised beds in my garden and a couple of other things, but there is no way I can protect everything. :0(

 

Since my flowers will probably be gone by the end of the weekend, the first thing I did today was cut some of the twice-blooming purple iris and some of the hydrangea blooms, bringing them in so we can enjoy them for a few more days.

I then went out to the garden. I had stored old sheets and clothespins in a tall trash can that just fit under one of the raised bed planters. It occurred to me last night that ‘something’ could have gotten into the trash can, since it doesn’t have a lid, and that I might not want to encounter whatever it was.  This morning I brought the trashcan out from under the planter box,  dragged it out of the garden and dumped it on its side quickly on the ground. Nothing showed up, so I grabbed the bottom of the trash can and shook out the rest of the contents, throwing it on the ground again, staying well away. I lucked out. No critters, No snakes. No insects or nests – just sheets and a bag of clothespins. I’ll put the sheets out tomorrow night and Saturday night, and then put them back in the trashcan, but I’ll move the can into the shop for safekeeping this time.

I found four tall stakes that I can put in the planter that holds the purple plant and the elephant ear plant. I put a sheet and some clothespins in the planter, ready to cover the plants tomorrow night.

I dug up the two youngest tomato plants after finding two large pots. I replanted them in the pots with Mel’s Mix and left them on a table in the greenhouse.

 

While I was out there, I heard a ‘CRACK!’ which turned out to be the plastic PVC pipe holders breaking that hold the wood at one end of the greenhouse to the curved PVC rib of the roof. The whole horizontal piece attached to the two vertical pieces was FREE, moving in the gusty wind! I put one of the tomato pots on the table up against one of the vertical pieces of wood. I put a tray and a full gallon jug of water against the other vertical piece of wood until my husband got home. We took a ladder out there and replaced the plastic holders with metal ones, fitting them over the PVC pipe of the rib and screwing them into the vertical wood uprights.*

*NOTE – Don’t EVER use the cheap plastic PVC pipe holders for ANYTHING. Always get the metal ones.

I then spent about 20 minutes securing the sheeting that is stretched over the ribs where it was coming loose. Since we’re having gusty winds, about 30mph this afternoon, this will be a good test of the greenhouse. Fingers crossed.

I think I told you that I finally got the book on starting my greenhouse. It’s called Gardening in Your Greenhouse – Greenhouse Basics,  by Mark Freeman.  I’m learning a TON. This was just the book I needed.  I particularly love the sections about starting seeds. He does it a completely different way than I have, using the same seed starter stuff I’ve been using. Since my nickname is the “Serial Seed Killer” I need all the help I can get!  I’m making a list of things I want to get to use out there, plus I’m getting ideas on how to make the best use of my space, and a realistic idea of what I can do – plus my limitations – so I have a better idea of what to expect.

As I try to implement some of Mark’s good suggestions, I’ll try to share them with you.

I still have a to-do list as long as my arm of things I’d like to do outside, but I really don’t like trying to gather leaves for mulch in a gusty wind. Except for the actual covering of what I can cover tomorrow night, we’re pretty well as ready for the freezes as we can be. We’ll regroup after and see where we are.

I’m going in to put my feet up and read more of my greenhouse book. I hope you’re having a wonderful day.

 

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My Yard Before the Frost

I’m feeling a bit sad, having to cover up as much as I can in the garden and the yard, digging up plants to try to winter over in the garage, digging up the last of the tomato plants to TRY to winter over in the greenhouse, so I took some pics to share with you in case we have an abrupt end of season. The frustrating thing is that the frost will come Friday night and Saturday night, and THEN the lows will be in the 40’s the rest of the week. :0(

Two colors of impatiens in the planter to the left side of the front porch. (Amber attacked and demolished the others on the right side)

 

Here you can see the impatiens as above, plus the volunteers below the porch from seeds from last year! (You can also see why I pressured washed the front porch, porch pad, and front sidewalk a couple of days ago)

 

Gerbera Daisies

 

This is the completely root-bound, overflowing iris planter I dug out recently, now replanted.  I have two buckets full of rhizomes to plant elsewhere in the yard, sometime after we have our frost.

 

This is the metal duck we made to perpetually fly over the iris planter.

 

Here you can see the whole planter, with the pole and the duck on top. You can also see my new greenhouse and my husband’s new ham radio tower recently erected.

 

Our hydrangea plants are just now reviving after the 90 degree + weather we’ve been having until about two weeks ago, and now they’ll probably be stopped dead in their tracks by the coming frost. I’ll try to bring in some more blooms before the weekend.

 

Also, some nice white.

 

Twice-blooming purple iris.

 

I thought I had pulled out all the zinnias, but more volunteers arrived. I haven’t had the heart to weed whack them.  The shovel bird is standing guard.

 

More, with a hint of phlox on the left.

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Protecting my Fall Garden Plants

preschoolgarden.blogspot.com

Isn’t this a cute picture? He looks like he’s having such a good time.

 

We usually have a freeze in the fall that kills some things and threatens others. When I had my first fall garden, I missed the freeze warning and lost all my plants. Now I listen carefully to the weather reports and cover my garden plants with sheets. Most of the time this will bring the garden plants through and I can continue harvesting until we get a truly hard freeze.

Here you see my sole spinach plant. I’ve harvested 4 leaves so far and cut them up with fanfare in our salad the other night. :0)

 

This is the Simpson lettuce. I’ve been harvesting this for salads most nights.

 

My husband is only interested in head lettuce. I started this one from the core of the head I bought at the store. I don’t know if it will do anything before a hard freeze or not.

 

These are carrots.

 

And this is Bibb lettuce. You can see where the recently rain was hitting the Mel’s Mix so hard it splashed up on the lettuce leaves.

 

usethatherb.com

I’m lucky to have raised beds, but this gives you an idea of what the garden planters will look like with sheets over them. I’m hoping for another couple of months of harvest time after this first frost.

 

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We’re Going to Have a WHAT?

We’ve been enjoying a reprieve from the 90 degree weather lately. I was just breathing a huge sigh of relief and then last night the weather man was talking about the first chance of an area-wide FREEZE will be Saturday night into Sunday.  WHAT?  WHAT!  We’ve only had three days of fall!

So – added to my outdoor list for the week is

  • emptying out and storing all the parts of the hummingbird bird bath
  • getting out sheets so I can cover up the veggie garden plants and some of the more tender plants in the yard planters Saturday night
  • digging up the two late tomato plants and putting them in the greenhouse
  • digging up the elephant ear and purple plants to store them in pots of peat moss in the garage for the winter

Anything else I get done will be ‘gravy.’

I hope you have a good day today.

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Garden Progress

We have a LOT to do outside.

We have a lot of HAVE-TO’S – where we’re acting like grownups, making sure we’re ready for the coming cold weather. In this group, my husband is turning off the irrigation system that automatically waters everything in all the planters around the house, plus the deck planters.  In doing this, he found that two of the three outside faucets leak. This isn’t surprising after 30 years, I guess, so we went to Yeagers and got some replacement washers and he’s trying to get them installed in all three faucets. He finished the one for the well house, and is now working on the two on the back of the house. To do THAT, he has to shut off the water to the house.  Always happy to do my part, I immediately wanted to get a glass of water from the tap and go to the bathroom…

We also have the group of things that SHOULD be done to show that someone cares what things look like up here. In this group is weed whacking, weed and bug killing, cleaning up the beds around the house that are now full of leaves, pruning, etc. I did some of the pressure washing this morning. This afternoon I’m doing some of the weed whacking. I’ve been at it for a couple of hours now, so I’m taking a break and drinking some water. I’ll heck on my husband’s progress, armed with more kleenex and band-aids, and then I’ll do another hitch. None of the ‘should’s’ will be finished quickly. I figure if we try to do a bit each day, eventually we’ll get things under control or run out of good weather.

Finally, we have my real LOVE, working in my raised bed square foot garden. The fall garden is small, but is coming along fine. I’m still waiting for my book on the basics of getting my greenhouse organized well and running right. I’m supposed to get the book by Halloween or before. I’m watching the weather forecast for when we’re due for frosts or freezes, and I MAY have to go ahead and dig up a few things before I have a clue what I’m doing. I have some sheets ready to put over the garden plants at night, so hopefully I can keep that going until we have a deep freeze.

I love this time of year, thought I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by my to-do list. I keep reminding myself – one day at a time…

 

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Planting Finished for the Day

I just finished my planting for the day. I planted two celery plants from the bottoms I started in the house. (These are easy. Just cut off the bottom 2 inches of each bunch of celery and put them in a dish of water. When they have leaves showing well, transplant them to the garden.) If you want them to look like the bunches you get from the store, tie the little branches together with string. I just let them grow naturally, harvesting individual stalks when they look large enough.

 

judyscottagegarden.blogspot.com

I told you that I dug out all the iris plants from the new iris planter in the back yard. The planter was totally root-bound (though I’m not sure that’s what you call it with iris). I don’t know how many rhizomes I dug out, but they filled two large buckets. Since I started with 15 plants two years ago, I again chose 15 rhizomes to replant. I’m going to choose several other places before winter to relocate the other ones. My husband wants more up and down the driveway. We’ll also plant some on the way to our shop, plus I want to have at least a couple of iris areas in the back yard. We’re not in a big hurry to do this, as I want to concentrate on weed whacking, lawn edging and weed killing, plus cleaning up flower planters first.

 

gardenerspath.com

I decided to try to start a head lettuce plant in the same manner I do for celery. I slammed the lettuce on the counter to make the core pop out, then put it in water. I planted the seedling, which looked much like these, except smaller, today. We’ll see how it does.

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Harvest – October 20, 2017

I took Amber out to the garden this morning.  I tried to harvest while she ‘helped me’ by trying to move two large plastic pots from the corner of the garden, take them under one of the raised bed planters and chew on them. I discouraged that, so she found some of the black weed barrier under some of the wood chip mulch and managed to pull some up. At this point, I thanked her for her help and put her on the other side of the fence to roam around until I got to a stopping point.

I harvested some of the largest leaves of the Bibb lettuce and Simpson lettuce.

 

I pulled up all the radishes. I’ll plant more later today, plus two celery plants and one head lettuce plant I started in the kitchen.

 

The lone spinach plant is doing very well, giving me 4 nice leaves today. I’ll take some spinach seeds out and plant them, as well today.

Also on my schedule is to re-plant several of the Iris rhizomes I dug up and separated this week. I’ll just plan on getting the one planter done today, taking my time on finding good spots to relocate the other iris around the yard.

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Digging Up Iris Project – Take 2

I’m going to try to finish digging out my iris plants today.

 

We devoted a square brick planter in the back yard for new iris, with the plan  to redistribute them all over the yard when it was time to divide them. We made this bird to “fly” over the planter.

 

This is the actual planter. You can see that this has really gone nuts in the past two years. I have dug out approximately half of the rhizomes now. I plan to get out there in a few minutes and see if I can finish getting the plants dug out, and the excess roots and leaves cut off. I have one plastic basket in the garage already of the half I dug out recently.  I’ll plant some back in this planter, but most of them will go in spots up and down the driveway, out to the shop, and in groupings here and there around the yard.

I started with 15 plants in this planter which is almost 4 feet on each side. I can’t believe how many plants I have now, or how difficult it is to get them out carefully. I have 5 different colors – a bright yellow, a yellow with a brown striped ‘beard,’ a pretty blue, some small purple, and I THINK a fuchsia, though I’m not sure.

I have a really nice day to work outside, so please wish me luck on finishing up the digging out today.

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