I just came in from prepping the raised bed square foot garden for spring planting. My husband came out with a roll of wire and cutters, so we replaced the wires that were broken that criss-cross over the planter boxes, marking the ‘squares’ for planting. The irrigation system is ready to turn on and I’ll install the timer soon.
We’ll plan to go to town Monday to see what is available for planting. I would do it tomorrow, but my husband wants for us to change the snow tires on the truck for its regular ones tomorrow.
The weed barrier cloths cut to fit and held down in the corners with bricks are a definite success. They didn’t blow off. There was nothing to hold water, so we didn’t have to worry about “pools” in the center of each box. Nothing rotted or degraded. In fact, I folded up the cloths and put them in the shop so I can use them at the end of the season to winter over for next time.
All I needed to do today was use the small ‘fork’ to go back and forth over the surface of each planter, picking out the tufts of weeds. They were right at the surface, not “dug in. ” It was quick and easy. HOORAY! :0)
I’ve just come in from STEP 1 of prepping our square foot garden for planting.
This is the garden, minus the two brick planters on the other side of the house that we use for tomatoes. There are six 4′ x 4′ wooden planter boxes. You can see that the neon tape I strung to let the deer see there is fencing here need repair.
Here’s a view from one side.
This shows the weed barrier cloth I put in each planter box, held down by a brick in each corner. You can also see the irrigation system for these three boxes, with the pieces of hose strung together running along a piece of wood and the sprinkler in the center of each box. The six boxes are all irrigated with one timer on an agricultural faucet.
I removed the bricks and stored them in two corners of the garden, pulled the weed barrier cloths off, folded them up and stored them.
The results of the weed barrier cloth vary. This is the worst, but it’s still much better than if I hadn’t shielded the Mel’s Mix. As you can see, weeds love this soil alternative just as much, if not more, than the veggies I want to grow!
All the planter boxes were prepped the same way, and yet each is different on how many weeds were prevented.
I’m going to call this experiment a success because, though there are weeds, there aren’t NEAR as many as there were when I just left them from the fall to the spring uncovered.
My experiment with tarps wasn’t as good as this, either, because the tarps didn’t stand up well with the temperature differences, the wind, the snow and ice, etc. I had put buckets in the center of each box to try to keep water from pooling, but that had varying success. The tarps also tore and the bungee cords I used didn’t hold the tarps on as well as I had hoped.
I think that when we finish in the fall and are getting the boxes ready for the winter again, we’ll put TWO layers of the weed barrier cloth in each box.
This afternoon I’m planning (again) to uncover my gardening boxes in preparation for starting my spring garden. (I got snafued by the weather once and was just plain lazy after doing other things yesterday). I’m hoping that today is the day I can prep to get spring plants going. I just checked the forecast and it looks like we won’t have any freezes in the next 10 days, so maybe it’ll be safe to get things started.
I’m hoping to find several different types of lettuce, plus spinach, and sweet onions to start tomorrow. We’ll plant tomatoes, of course – in fact, we devote two brick planters to those. Otherwise, I’ll plant broccoli maybe, squash, and radish seeds. I’m thinking of playing with some herbs in the kitchen this year just for fun. I’ll plant celery bottoms from the ones I buy at the grocery store.
Everything will depend on what I can find, and I’m excited to get started now that the weather is getting more cooperative.
It has now warmed up to 27 degrees F. here. The sun is shining, but that isn’t helping much. The forecast says, “A cold final day of winter before a spring warm up.”
I really hope the weather folks are right because I’ve had my fill of cold and am itching to play in the dirt of my garden. I’m planning to prep the garden and get some things planted next week, unless the forecast changes.
Right now I have weed barrier cloth cut to size in each of our six 4′ x 4′ wooden planters. The cloth has been held down by bricks, hoping to keep the weed growth to a minimum this year. I’ll take pics when I start prepping the boxes so you can see if it worked or not.
This is an old pic, showing when we used string to mark the planting ‘squares.’ Now I use wire because it is much more sturdy. You can see the irrigation system. We strung pieces of hose together between sprinklers in the center of each box, attached to a piece of wood that runs between 3 boxes in a row. There are two rows of planters. We have the whole thing on a timer so things are watered daily automatically.
We built the boxes in the shop, then hauled them out to the garden area. We welded angle iron together to make the supports for the boxes. We put them at my chest level so that I don’t have to bend over double or get down on my hands and knees to plant, weed, or harvest. My body really appreciates that.
The six planter boxes are surrounded by fencing to keep the deer out. We also put chicken wire around the bottom to keep rabbits and other critters out. We have a ‘door’ to close off the area. I put neon tape around the perimeter of the fence to give a heads up to the deer so they don’t run into it.
Since we live on top of a ridge line, we have no soil. Everything up here that isn’t rock was trucked in – some to be able to have a ‘yard’ around the house. All else is rock and woods.
We fill the planter boxes with “Mel’s Mix” (Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Garden) – a combination of peat moss, Vermiculite, and as many different kinds of compost as we can find or create. I use mushroom, barnyard, and cotton, plus we try to make our own.
My spirits have lifted. I don’t care that it’s rainy and cold, knowing that spring isn’t too far off. I’m hoping that we’ve broken the back of winter, but I know that Mother Nature can change her mind and sprinkle (or slam) us with more of the white stuff this month. I’m trying to keep positive thoughts about all of it, seeing lots of blooms around the yard – more each day.
This morning, for example, I noticed that several of our redbud trees are blooming.
A quick walk around the yard – it IS still raining a bit – shows lots of color. Here’s a forsythia.
The tulip tree didn’t lose all of its blooms.
And daffodils are showing their happy faces all around the yard.
My heart is full as I see all these sweet things blooming their little hearts out. I hope that you are seeing signs of promise and hope, too.
Happy March! Celebrations are going on in the Lewis household that February is gone for another year and that the start of spring isn’t too far away.
We’re in for a BUNCH of rain and possibly severe storms starting today and running through Friday, with a flood watch. Since we live on top of a hill, if we make it through the thunderstorms, gusty winds, and hail, we’re good. :0)
I’m doing laundry, changing bed linens, vacuuming and other exciting stuff today. Right now we have lots of happy looking daffodils all around the yard, so it looks like our yard is celebrating, too.
This is an older photo, when we covered the boxes with tarps. This year we used fabric weed control cut to length and held down with bricks. They have lasted all winter and through the thunderstorms and gusty winds so far.
I’ll get serious about figuring what I’d like to plant in my garden this year. I’m hoping for lots of lettuce and spinach plants for sale soon. Also sweet onions of some type. Tomato plants, of course, radish seeds, celery plants transferred from buying bunches at the store. I’m thinking about trying some herbs on my kitchen divider this year. It’ll be fun to start digging in the dirt again.
I hope that this first day of March is a beautiful one for you.
I’m really hoping we aren’t blown away overnight here because I would hate to miss the coming spring. I just walked around the yard a bit, taking a few pics, feeling my heart lift as I saw so many signs that winter is almost behind us.
This display is particularly heartwarming because years ago I dug up all the daffodils here and relocated them all around the yard. Little did I know that somehow you CAN’T dig them all up. They just keep coming. Isn’t that wonderful?
This is all by itself in one of the trio planters that divide our front yard from the driveway. I just LOVE the color.
Can you hear them trumpeting, “Spring is on the way!” ?
“Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle … a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl. And the anticipation nurtures our dream.” ~ Barbara Winkler
This won’t happen for awhile, but I’m enjoying dreaming about it. Each year I try to get head lettuce and then several other leaf lettuces to add variety to our salads. I also try to get spinach plants, and of course, tomato plants. Otherwise, I experiment. I grow radishes from seed, celery from cutting off the bottoms of celery I buy at the store and then replant when they sprout in water. I like to grow some sweet onions. My cauliflower and broccoli grow lots of leaves, but I haven’t had much success in growing the edible parts yet. I’ve had mixed results on squash. Maybe I’ll try some herbs on my kitchen counter this year, as well.
A little at a time, I’m thinking about what I want to start with this spring. I would love to be able to supply all of our friends with nice veggies straight from the garden.
I’m thinking about all this now because we can finally negotiate our driveway, and the ice is almost completely gone. We still have areas that could use more chain-saw work, but we’re able to drive up and down without a problem now.
I’ll get out my last planning sheets and see if I can figure out the best places to put the new spring plants. It seems funny to talk about ‘crop rotation’ in chest-high 4’x4′ wooden planters, but it’s just as important here as in humongous commercial farms.
Josephine Neuse – University of Illinois Extension
I have a wonderful square foot garden that my husband and I created several years ago to enable me to enjoy gardening even as I get “more mature” and less able to get down and up again from my hands and knees and do heavy lifting.
We built SIX 4′ x4′ wooden ‘tables’ up on top of iron supports. We surrounded the six tables with fencing, then added chicken wire around the bottom to keep small critters out. We threaded neon tape through the fencing to make it VISABLE to the deer who come through from time to time. We added a screen door so there is a definite ‘inside-the-garden’ and ‘outside.
The tables are about my chest height and filled with “Mel’s Mix,” a soil substitute mixture of peat moss, vermiculite, and at least three different kinds of compost. We filled the boxes with the mix, after making the mixture in a used cement mixer. That’s the heaviest part of the gardening I do now. :0)
We marked the ‘squares’ of the square foot garden using wire criss-crossed over the tops of the boxes. We mounted a sprinkler head in the center of each box, tied together with hose, for daily irrigation.
We used to have a greenhouse that we built from a kit on the other side of our property, but since we couldn’t afford air conditioning and heating for it, it was truly a dream and wasn’t really useful to our efforts. We finally took it down when it was heavily damaged by a storm a few years ago. Now I buy plants from town.
I can just walk into my garden area, taking my spreadsheet diagram of where I want to plant things, move a bit of soft Mel’s Mix, and plant. My plan enables me to rotate my plants, avoiding disease and increasing yield. I also have not followed what I COULD do with my square foot garden, and spread my plants out a bunch for easier care.
Right now I have the boxes weeded and covered with weed cloth held in place by bricks. We’ve had several big storms and so far, the cloths are staying in place. That will hopefully enable me to plant without a lot of weeding first in the spring. :0)
I’m going to concentrate on lettuces, since I plan for us to eat a lot of salad, growing several kinds. My husband likes me to plant head lettuce, so I do, if we can find the plants. Otherwise, I try to plant three or four different kinds. I also want to plant a lot of spinach so I can use it in our salads, plus freeze some. I’ll grown radishes, sweet onions, and of course, I’ll use the two brick planters on the other side of the house for tomatoes. I’m at the dreaming stage now, so I’ll peruse lots of veggie magazines to see what else I might plant.
I WISH I were a good cook. I love the idea of growing herbs and spices, but I don’t tend to USE the fresh stuff much. I buy a bunch or two at the store, use a bit and end up tossing the rest when I haven’t used it fast enough. Maybe I’ll try a couple of the ones I use most often, trying to grow them in the kitchen, rather than in the garden….
It’s FUN to dream – especially while we’re expecting snow any minute here.
With the two of these, I SHOULD be able to clear many of the weed trees that have grown up along the civilized edge of our back yard, before the land drops off. I was planning to buy a reciprocating saw just for my gardening, but my husband insists I use his. We do have another blade to put on it after I finish, and we’ll probably need to, since I’ll be cutting down trees with some sap inside, even though I clean it as well as possible each time I use it. I’ve moved it from the shop to the garage so that if Mother Nature is feeling cooperative I can make some progress out there this afternoon.
We’re back on the roller coaster Mother Nature has set up. Yesterday it was windy and 75. Today is 36 with a high expected of 49, and sunny. No wind. I’m hoping to get outside this afternoon. We’ll see. I’m very thankful the wild weather last night bypassed us. I hope the front goes on past the east coast and dies without causing further havoc.
Yesterday during my yoga practice (DAY 137) I could only hold the plank pose for 20 seconds without a lot of discomfort. I decided that I would do the pose multiple times, so repeated it 3 more times for a total count of 80. (I have no real idea of how long I’m holding the pose, other than counting while I hold it, so I would imagine that I’m being generous with myself, counting pretty fast.)
I wondered if holding the plank for multiple short amounts of time would be the equivalent of one longer hold. I researched the question, finding opinions vary all over the place. Some people say your goal should be to hold the pose 5 MINUTES. Since this is an impossible goal for me, I continued to research. I found –
Most experts suggest anywhere from 10 up to 30 seconds is plenty. “Focus on doing multiple sets of smaller amounts of time,” says L’Italien.Nov 13, 2019″
Since I am 75, and there is no way in the world I’ll ever get to 5 MINUTES, I’ll go for this advice. If I do MULTIPLE repetitions of however long I can hold before I get really uncomfortable, I ought to be able to attain my goal of strengthening my core.
Our yard is finally starting to look as if someone cares. There is ALWAYS something more than we should or could do, but if I get the yard looking pretty civilized and the plants as protected as possible, I feel good.
Two days ago I finally got the planters on the deck cleaned out. There is still some stuff to do to prepare the deck for the winter, but the project is started.
I’m trying to tackle things of higher priority first. I’m going to put a set of loppers in the truck so that each time we come back from errands, we can stop on the way up the driveway and cut off some evergreen branches that are hanging out into the driveway. We don’t want these to be stretched across the driveway, blocking our way up and down after ice or snow storms.
I want to prune our rose bushes WAAAAAY down for the winter. I have two bushes left. Then there is one more planter that is totally overgrown, leaves to be blown from the front yard, weed trees to be cut down to open up our view in the back again …
When we went for errands this morning, the wind was blowing strongly and pretty steadily. (We could even hear the wind blowing last night after we went up to bed and usually we don’t even hear STORMS.) It has continued to be gusty,winds blowing so strongly I felt I might blow away – and THAT’S a strong wind! – so I haven’t tried to work outside.
It looks like it MAY have calmed down, so I may get out there to cut our remaining rose bushes way down for the winter..
By the way, here’s OUR mailbox decoration of Popeye, one of our favorite cartoon characters. :0)
I’ve been especially enjoying working in the yard the past few days. The weather has been perfect – sunny, but not the kind that makes you feel you’re being boiled in oil, and temperature warm, edging toward cool.
My latest outside project, cleaning out the trio of brick planters that separate our front yard from the top of our driveway, is going well. I have two of the three planters cleaned out, and am hoping to get the third planter weeded today. I’m feeling a bit of pressure now, since I read that we’re due for strong storms tomorrow afternoon and evening and I’d like to finish the clean-out before the rain.
This is what the trio planters looked like a few days ago. As you can see, they are totally overgrown, plus filled with weeds and Bermuda grass.
This is what they look like this morning. I have my work cut out for me with the third planter, but it will feel great to at least get started, if not finished with it today. I’ll wait until it’s a bit warmer to get started. (Can you believe I’m SAYING that?) :0)
I walked around the yard briefly after taking these pics and found that the flowers in the pots on the deck are providing a nice display.
It is my fervent hope that I don’t run into wasps or ants in the last planter. I may spray it with EIGHT first to see if anyone comes flying out….
I just finished hacking the overgrown stuff on the trio of brick planters, and have finished weeding one of the three. I’m resting now.
The elements apparently caused a rope support we had rigged for wisteria vines to snap and I had to tackle the results of that today. I did a bunch, but will have to ask my husband to use the chain saw on one part. It’s sad, but the rope giving way and breaking caused kind of an avalanche of vines, some of which are really thick, to cover half of one of the planters, to impede our access to stacked fire wood, plus make it almost impossible to do any mowing or weed whacking there. I’ll prune it as little as possible and hope we can figure out another way to prop up the vines stretching from the planter across the wood pile and up into the tree beside the driveway.
This gives you an idea of what I’m trying to save. From what you can see here, the wisteria vines continue on to the left across the woodpile and up into a tree.
Well, the process of bringing this trio of brick planters back to some kind of plan has begun. So far, I’m feeling overwhelmed.
The first step is cutting down the overgrown stuff. I’ve filled a trash can and dumped it, and I don’t think you would notice I’ve done anything. I’m resting and drinking water now, trying to gear up for another session.
The weather is really nice for my project, but my energy is fading fast. I started out with a ratty, but warm vest on, but quickly shed it as I worked. If you’re just walking around, it still feels a bit cool, but working changes your mind fast.
I’m in a ruthless frame of mind, I find. The rose bushes in the trio of planters are not looking healthy. I’ve decided to REALLY prune them down, thinking I would rather lose them and start over at this point, rather than try to fight sad, diseased leaves and mostly bare branches. I’ll cut them WAAAY back and deal with things when I see how they do next spring.
I’m about to head out for another session. I’m concentrating on snipping things off and hacking things down today. If I can get a good start on that, I’ll feel as if I’m making progress.
I’m really hoping that we have a nice day today, particularly this afternoon. I’m going to tackle cleaning up what I call the ‘trio planters’ that run between the front yard and the top of the driveway. At this point they are completely overrun with weeds, Bermuda grass, and overgrown plants.
This is the first of the three 8 foot long brick planters. As you can see, it’s a mess. There are two more adjoining this one, creating a demarcation line between the front yard and the top of the driveway. When it’s tended, there are roses, lilies, iris, and phlox. I’ll do a bit at a time until it’s more under control.
This is the second planter, and the overgrown bush covers the third.
If the weather is cooperative, I’m planning to take my gardening stool out and get started today.
I’m typing this from the puddle into which I melted after seeing this photograph. Isn’t he SWEET?
Today has been a different Friday than usual for us.
First, everyone else is gone, so no Lunch Bunch today. Hopefully, we can all be there next Friday.
Second, we have a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) in the office for our computers. It started making weird noises this morning and then a red LED light came on. We looked it up and found that that is what it does when it needs new batteries. We shut everything down. My husband opened up the UPS and found it has FOUR large heavy batteries (picture small bricks). He was able to order more, so they’re on the way, but now we don’t have our usual backup. Hopefully, nothing will interrupt our power at a bad time when we’re on our computers until we can get the new batteries into the UPS and everything plugged into it again.
Third, Since I had to shut off my computer, I decided to get some of the stuff done outside. I stored our onion harvest, and then cleaned up the elephant ear planter a bit, cutting off LOTS of dead or battered leaves.
I moved seven 40-lb. bags of soil to the three planters near the house yesterday. I got the soil spread in the long tomato planter (above) and what will be the new iris planter (below).
I’ll save the spreading of the soil in the new tomato planter for later today.
I also plan to start weeding in the trio of brick planters that run between our front yard and the driveway area. Rain starts late tonight and will continue all day tomorrow, according to the forecasts.
Slow Progress in the yard work so far. I’m wheelbarrowing 40-lbs bags of potting soil from one end of the yard to where the new tomato planter, old iris planter, and second tomato planter are. I’ve moved three bags so far, loaded the last 4 bags we had on the pallet into the wheelbarrow, and have cleaned up the pallet area, gathering up the used-up tarp, some leaf bag covers, plastic covering that came with the pallet of soil, the now-rotted wood pallet, plus bricks, logs and bungie cords that were holding everything down. I’m now resting and gulping water.
I would LIKE to finish moving and spreading the bags of soil, trimming the elephant ear plants, and planting more iris before we’re due for rain starting tomorrow evening and raining all day Saturday. This is the type of project where I would be very happy if I were as tall as a basketball player, strong as a weight lifter, and had the stamina of a long distance runner. This old lady poops out pretty quickly. I CAN do several sessions, though, between now and tomorrow evening, so I’m hoping that will get it done.
This part of the project is now complete. Today I added the tomato supports and then ran wire around them in four places securing the supports to the center pole and each other. I’ll see if anything else is needed in the spring as the tomato plants grow.
I now have this square planter and this eight foot x one foot planter I’ll use for our tomato plants.
The next part of the project will be to replant some of the iris in the niche (old tomato) planter (beside the porch and behind the house.)
I also brought in the harvested onions that have been drying on the trailer bed for several weeks now. I’ll put some in our fridges and some in the mesh bags I have to hang in the pantry.
That’s it for outside today. I’ll rest a bit and then do my yoga session for the day. (DAY 96)
You would THINK that, with as old as I am, and as many years as I have lived in Arkansas, that I would handle the sudden, one-time freeze event that happens every year with more grace.
It’s happening tonight. If it happens as predicted, the one-time event will kill everything still alive in our planters. THEN, instead of staying cold, it will warm up again for up to THREE MONTHS before freezing again.
I’ll show you ONE reason I get so hostile about this –
My elephant ears are happy and thriving, even though I do need to clean them up a bit. These will be devastated by a truly hard freeze.
I just came in from my second session trying to clean out the iris planter. I spent an hour and a half the first session, starting with a small rake-type garden tool and quickly going back to get a shovel. The second session was an hour. I’m pooped now, and I need to rest and hydrate before I do my yoga for the day, so I’ll do more tomorrow.
So far, I got the iris I could find easily out and put into a big outside type trash can. I also got most of the Bermuda grass that was on the surface of the planter out.
Tomorrow I’ll get more serious with the shovel, digging down as deeply as I can, turning the soil, and gathering more iris rhizomes, pulling more Bermuda grass roots, etc.
I feel good about my progress today. The weather cooling off and the rain last night really helped with the project. My husband said my project to clean out the planter was ‘impossible.’ It was just ‘too far gone.’ I’m going to prove him wrong. :0)
This is what I look like right now, except that I’m nearly as cute or sweet.
I just finished today’s weed whacking. I got the area behind the shop and beside the garden done. Tomorrow or the next day I’ll mix up some KILLZALL to spray all over the areas I’ve cut down, plus areas that are too close to the fence to weed whack, hoping to keep things at bay, at least for awhile. When you live on a rural acreage, the wild stuff tries to take back what you’ve tried to ‘civilize’ much faster than humans can work.
Yesterday afternoon I got the area “beside our shop/in front of the garden” and “garden perimeter” weed whacked.
Today I’m planning to weed whack “behind the shop/beside the garden” where I keep my trash cans of Mel’s Mix ingredients, garden tools, cement (soil) mixer, etc. The weeds are over my knees out there. I would like to get that all weed whacked, and then spray the whole area with KILLZALL, since it would be MUCH easier upkeep that way. Wish me luck?
My husband helped me almost finish up the garden this morning. We gathered 24 bricks to put in the boxes, then wheelbarrowed them out there and distributed them. We then cut the weed barrier cloth to length for each of the boxes, running the fabric under the wires that delineate the ‘squares’ of the planting areas and then holding down the fabric with the bricks.
I’ll neaten up the area under the planters with the weed whacker as part of the next part of the project. You can also see the neon surveyors tape I ran around the perimeter of the garden to keep the deer from running into it.
Yesterday I finished prepping the garden boxes in my square foot garden, finishing the weeding, spraying, and spreading the Mel’s Mix as flat as I could.
Today my husband is going to help me take bricks to the garden via the wheelbarrow. We’ll put 4 of them in each of the 6 planter boxes to hold down the fabric weed barrier we’ll cut to size today.
When that is finished, the only remaining things are spraying the weeds underneath the planter boxes in the garden itself, and then around the perimeter of the garden, plus threading bright neon tape through the fencing to try to keep deer from running into the fence in the middle of the night.
I’m feeling good this morning. I managed to only get one ant bite/sting in my work yesterday, and it’s just itchy, not all blown up and sore. :0)