Category Archives: Square Foot Gardening – Raised Beds

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Protecting my Fall Garden Plants

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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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Fall Garden Pictures – October 2017

Here are 2 celery bottoms, one of which has sprouted a bit, and a core of head lettuce, which is also sprouting. I’ll move them to the garden soon.

 

Bibb lettuce, started from seed. I can start harvesting some of the leaves for salad soon.

 

Carrots. I need to read my square foot gardening book to figure out what to expect here and when.

 

celery plants. I’m harvesting separate stalks, since I didn’t tie them together as I was supposed to do.

 

Newish celery plants.

 

Radishes ready to harvest.

 

Simpson lettuce.  Some is ready to start using.

 

My sole spinach plant. I don’t know what happened that the other seeds didn’t make. I keep meaning to plant more, but the days get away from me.

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Fall Square Foot Gardening

Everything is coming along in the fall garden. I have several celery plants, with two more, plus one head lettuce plant, almost ready to go out to the garden. The radishes may be ready to harvest. Two types of lettuce, Bibb and Simpson, are almost ready to start harvesting for salads.  Carrot tops are getting taller.

 

Meanwhile, I just ordered a book that I hope will answer my never-ending questions about how to get started in my new greenhouse.

 

We visited with our friends, the Taylors, last night while bowling – and eating ice cream afterwards –  and I found out that I’m supposed to wait until the elephant ear leaves die, then cut them off and dig up the bulb, putting it in a pot of peat moss and storing it in the garage. Same with the pretty purple plant she gave me. I’m watching the lows on the weather forecast, planning to bring the two fall tomato plants into the greenhouse to put in large pots of Mel’s Mix. I have no idea if they’ll make it over the winter or not, but it’ll be fun to try.

Otherwise, I’ll wait to get my greenhouse book, then prep my seed starter trays, some with Mel’s Mix and some with peat pellets to see if there are different results. I’ll try to plant seeds of all the things I want in my spring garden.

I’ll try to get some pics of the fall garden and post them soon.

 

 

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Dreaming of Working in My Greenhouse

As our temperatures here in Greenwood, Arkansas start to decrease as we move toward Fall, I’m starting to dream about working in my new greenhouse.

Since we built it this past spring, it’s been WAAAAAAAY too hot in there to even think about spending more than a minute or two inside.

 

We put a regular thermometer in there (the kind with the red mercury in a line up the center) and it got so hot inside the greenhouse that not only did the thermometer not read correctly, the top blew out of it! We literally had to clean up the table and the floor around it and throw the poor thing out. We replaced it with the kind of thermometer that only shows a number, and it went right to 120 degrees F. and stayed there, giving us at least a minimum temperature in there.

I had a folding chair out there that burned my generous nether end through my jeans in the time it took for me to sit on it and then leap back up! Needless to say, I have not spent a lot of time out there, waiting to organize it and start planting seeds until at least mid fall.

 

You’re looking through the open doorway to the greenhouse here. You can see the exhaust fan we mounted in the end. With the door open, the exhaust fan on, and the people fan on, soon I should be able to work in there.  This picture doesn’t show all the ‘stuff’ I’ve moved into the greenhouse – starter trays, a trashcan full of Mel’s Mix, water sprayers, planting tools, etc.

This morning I harvested a bunch of seeds from tomatoes we grew. They are drying on a paper towel on top of the microwave. When they’re completely dry, I’ll put them in a  baggie in preparation for planting them in the greenhouse. I’m hoping to plant lots of things in the hope that the plants will be ready to transfer to my square foot planters outside in the spring.

I’m like a kid waiting for Christmas morning, standing on one foot and the other waiting for the cold front tonight, and hoping that we are, finally, on the way to cooler temperatures and I can start to play. I’ll do a lot of reading and planning, plus get the greenhouse organized and set up for lots of seed starters. I have two tomato plants I plan to dig up, put in pots, and put in the greenhouse at the first threat of frost. I also plan to winter-over a couple of non-hardy plants, – an  elephant ear and a pretty purple plant my friend Laufrain gave me. I already have all the seeds I need, so I just need to exercise a whole lot of PATIENCE now…

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Mary, Mary…

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This is the view as you walk toward my square foot garden. You’d think I was specializing in marigolds! I planted them in several squares in each box, hoping they would help keep the insects down. I don’t see that they helped much, but they made the garden look happy. When the spring crops finished, the marigolds were still going strong, so I just left them. Now they’re overflowing.

The parts of the boxes not overflowing with marigolds look like this. My strings that we strung to demarcate the squares in each box were killed by the combination of water and sun. I’ll use a different kind in the spring. I just went out and sprinkled seeds for the fall garden and hoped for the best.

I also started a seed starter tray with peat pellets in the house. They sprouted, but were looking anemic, while the seeds in the garden were looking better. I decided to try putting the tray out on the deck where the seedlings could get more sun and maybe some rain. That turned out to be a mistake. The seedlings croaked, so I cleaned out the planter tray and put it back in the greenhouse.

The greenhouse, by the way, is still showing 120 degrees inside today, so it’ll be awhile before I try starting anything in there.

The raised bed square foot garden box above shows one single spinach plant, radishes, and two types of lettuce.

Only one plant resulted from the spinach seeds, but it looks good. I’ll try to plant some more around it, just to see if they’ll come up and produce, now that the weather people are saying we’re due for cooler weather next week.

 

This is a closeup of the Simpson Lettuce.

 

Radishes

 

New celery plants

 

Celery plants that grew more celery after I chopped the whole top off out in the garden!

 

Carrots

Bibb Lettuce

The only other veggies I have going for the fall garden thus far are two tomato plants offered several weeks ago. They still seem to be doing fine.

 

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A Nice Thursday

Today has been a really nice day.

The weather is a bit warm, but not enough that we’ve had to close up and turn on the a/c. Doors and windows open are a wonderful change, and the ceiling fans make it very comfortable.

I told you about the deer I saw on the way to my massage. My massage was particularly luxurious today because my back stopped hurting. I didn’t have to consciously try to relax into the massage. I could just ENJOY. AHHHHHH! Thank you, Lynn.

I have a list as long as my arm of things that need my attention. I let a lot of them slide while I was hurting, and so I’m trying to take a few each day until I’m reasonably caught up again.

 

The aquarium water looked  a bit murky, so I siphoned out 3/4 of the water, wiped the inside of the tank, then replaced the water with treated water that has been breathing and aging for several weeks. I changed the filter and turned everything back on. The fish seemed happy with my attention.

 

Since our temperatures are supposed to get more fall like early next week, I finally took the time to scrub out Amber’s kiddie pool. I had emptied it and left it upside down, but then hurt my back, so it was not only yucky, it had been rained on so there was a small lake weighing down the BACK of the pool. I scrubbed it with a broom and Simple Green, then hosed it out, turned it over, and scrubbed the back. I carried it around to the garage and put it between my counter and my elliptical trainer until I bring it out again next Spring.

I harvested two tomatoes from the planter on the east end of the house. I still have no idea if the two new tomato plants will do well or not. I’ll need to remove the old plants soon.

I still have two things on my list for today –

  • I learned that taking the planter tray of seedlings out onto the deck to get more sun and maybe some rain was a disaster, so I’ll clean up the planter and put it away.
  • Amber has developed a fun new hobby – digging! We dug out our two Rio Samba bushes recently in preparation for planting new ones early next spring. We’re also using some of the soil in the brick planters to fill mole, Molly, and Amber holes in the yard before replenishing the planters with fresh potting mix. Amber found them and has had a GREAT time digging in the planters. She comes to the door, looking innocent and sweet, with a black nose, mouth, and front feet. I’ve had to get a washcloth and towels to clean her up before I can let her back into the house with us. I haven’t been able to catch her doing it yet; but when I do, I’ll have to warn her, and then zap her if the warning isn’t enough.

I hope you’ve been having a fun day, too. I can’t wait for the nice, cool, fall weather!!

 

 

 

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A Little Bit of a Fall Garden

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Today I went out to what I hope will be my fall square foot garden. I haven’t been out there since I planted some seeds about three weeks ago.

The ones I planted in the plant starter tray are still looking really fragile. I guess I’ll move them outside on the deck where they can get more sun and hope for the best.

There were a LOT of weeds in the garden. I made a first pass on the weeding and will spend a lot more time out there later. I wanted to take some celery plants I started in the kitchen out there and basically see if ANY of the seeds had sprouted.

I’m going to stop here and go take some pics so that you can see what’s happening so far.

______________________

I’m back.

I planted things fast, and not how I’m supposed to in a square foot garden because I really didn’t expect anything to come up. We had no rain – not even a drop – in September, confirmed by our weather people. We also had hotter and more humid weather than usual for the month. Not a great combination. I’m encouraged that I have ANYTHING growing at this point, particularly after getting rid of a gazillion weeds today.  This is Bibb Lettuce.

 

Carrot sprouts.

 

Celery. One neat thing I learned this year is that you can continue cutting stalks off, even to the point of getting pretty ruthless, leaving very little, and the stalks will start growing again!

 

The most successful plant in the garden this year was marigolds. They didn’t do much of a job of keeping insects away, but they look nice.

Two different ages of celery plants.

 

Radishes.

Simpson Lettuce.

One lonely spinach plant.

I’m going to do another round of planting seeds directly in the garden, since they did better than the ones in the planter starter tray. I’ll keep working with the ones in the tray to see if they will get large and strong enough for transplanting. If they’re still slow, they may be the first things I try to grow in the greenhouse!

I also have two tomato plants that are about a month old now. One has some blossoms. I don’t know if they’ll do anything before the first frost. If not, I’ll put them in the greenhouse, too.

I was a bit disappointed to find that no one was carrying the plants I wanted for a fall garden this year. Now it’s turned into a really fun experiment, where if I get anything at all to work, it will be more than I expected. :0)

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Garden Update

I planted some seeds recently because I was unable to get the plants I wanted for my fall garden locally. I used a plant starter tray with a transparent lid using peat pellets. I planted Bibb Lettuce, Simpson Lettuce, and Spinach. I put the planter on our dining area table where it would get some sun.

They have sprouted, looking less than impressive, but are still alive at this point. I’ll turn the planter around so that the sprouts will straighten up in their pointing in the direction of the sunlight, and hope for the best.

 

This is the latest from the tomato plants. I still have a few green ones on the vines. I planted two tomato plants a few weeks ago, and one of them has a blossom. I have no idea if they’ll have time to produce tomatoes before frost. If the weather starts looking iffy,  I plan to dig them up carefully, put them in large pots and put them in the greenhouse to continue the experiment.

I planted more celery in the garden recently, plus radishes, plus lettuce, spinach, and carrots. When I’ve had a chance to get out there and weed, I’ll try to take pics for you.

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Serial Seed Killer Tries Again

Since I wasn’t able to find plants that I wanted for my fall garden, I planted some seeds and will hope for the best.

I planted some inside in a big planter starter thingie with a plastic top and it’s living on one end of our dining area table where it can get some sun. The others I planted directly in the garden, again hoping for the best.

I planted Bibb Lettuce, Simpson Lettuce, and Spinach inside, and planted those, plus radishes, carrots, and 4 celery plants I started inside. There isn’t anything to see yet, so no pics.

Since I’m aptly named the ‘Serial Seed Killer,” I may not get much, or anything, but I’m hopeful that ONE of the methods I used will be successful. Here’s hoping!

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Garden Mixer

This is the nice handle my husband made to go on the garden mixer. It not only makes it much easier to move, it allows the mixer itself to move in all different directions for use.

 

Here’s the mixer hanging in a moveable position.

 

If you look carefully, you can see the long, straight metal handle coming down from the round, black disk thingie. This allows you to turn the mixer into a position where you can toss the components of Mel’s Mix (vermiculite, peat moss, and three kinds of compost) into the bin. Then you can plug it in and mix it thoroughly. Unplug it and move it down for dumping into the wheelbarrow to take wherever you would like.

Here you see the mixer in place beside the bins holding the components of Mel’s Mix.

We used bungee cords to tie a tarp in place over the mixer to protect it and the extension cord from the elements.

We can also use it for its intended purpose, to mix concrete, but we don’t do that often. I mix Mel’s Mix all the time, and who would have thought of using a concrete mixer as a garden tool?

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Today’s Harvest – Veggies and Flowers

This is the last of the spaghetti squash harvest. I pulled out the vines today. I could have gotten a few more, since there were still flowers on some of the vines, but I need to get things cleared out to try to get a fall garden going.

I’m still really pleased that I was able to save the seeds from one spaghetti squash I bought at the store, planted two seeds in pots in the kitchen and put them on the window sill. When they got large enough, I transferred them into my raised bed, square foot garden. I had no clue whether they would grow or not. The vines ended up taking up two of the 4×4 foot planters. The plants weren’t very ‘pretty,’ but I think getting at least 8 spaghetti squash from this experiment could be called a success. :0)

 

This is today’s harvest of tomatoes. I should get a few more. I’ve cleared out the plants in the ‘nook’ planter, but I still have four plants left in the 8 foot planter to the east of the house. I planted one new tomato plant on each end of the planter last week. I have no idea if we still have enough time to get to harvest with these, but it’s fun to hope.

On the first session in the garden today, I brought Amber. She was good until she got bored. She then decided to try to dig some holes under the planters. My husband brought her out – on the leash this time – on my second gardening session. The most significant thing in the square foot garden right this minute is marigolds. They’re everywhere.  My husband said I should cut some and put them in a vase for us to enjoy inside.

He saw some wasps climbing around and into the pipes that form the framework of our garden. He decided to spray them – so instead of just having to be wary of them, we actively had to dodge the really angry wasps! It was easy to decide the second gardening session of the day was over.

So here are today’s flowers – marigolds and zinnias.

I think I’ll wait until later this evening or tomorrow to finish getting the square foot planters ready for a fall garden. My chair and a cold drink are calling to me….

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Cleaning Out the Garden for the Fall

The Best Years in Life

This weekend I’m cleaning out our raised bed, square foot garden planters, getting ready for the fall garden. I harvested some more spaghetti squash, and I’ll show you pics of those later.

Amber went out with me to ‘help.’ We discovered she likes to play with grape tomatoes! I would throw one to her every once in a while, and she would happily treat it as if it were a toy. But then, after half an hour, she got bored and started to dig under the planters. I couldn’t allow that, so we came in.

I’ll cool off for a bit, drink some cold water, and then head out there again. I want to be ready in case we find some lettuce and spinach plants in Fort Smith when we go on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, if I can get the garden cleared out, I’m planning to set out 4 new celery plants, and plant some carrot and radish seeds. I’m pretty sure the radishes will do well, but I haven’t had any good looking carrots yet.  I’m not going to plant a lot this year. I told you recently I started two new tomato plants, in the hope that they’ll produce before it freezes. If I can get those, and some spinach or lettuce and radishes, I would be happy.

We’ve just had too many projects, plus trying to spend lots and lots of time with Amber, to try to do a large garden.

Are YOU growing a fall garden?

 

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Thing One – a Mixer for the Garden!

A couple of days ago my husband saw an ad on Craig’s List for a mixer. This one was used to mix up peat moss and other stuff. We finally got in communication and arranged to go see it yesterday afternoon.  The man and my husband got it into the back of our truck and we got it tied down securely for the trip home.

We backed the truck into our shop to where it was under the chain hoist. We were able to hook it up and raise it so we could then drive the truck out from under it and then let it down. My husband is going to put handles on it.

We will put it out behind the shop beside the bins under a tarp. We can then plug it in and use it to mix up the components of Mel’s Mix for the raised square foot garden. The black thing running along the side of the mixer is a handle that you use to turn the mixer over. I’ll then be able to dump it into a wheelbarrow to be taken wherever I’m adding Mel’s Mix.

I’ve mixed up the peat moss, vermiculite, and three kinds of compost in the wheelbarrow using a hoe, but it never got as mixed as I would have liked. Now I can do a good job of mixing things with a LOT less effort!

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Glorious Weather

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I’m feeling especially bad about Hurricane Harvey for a couple of reasons –

  • My husband’s name is Harvey, so it seems a more personal responsibility, somehow
  • Our weather is ideal for this time of the year. The sun is shining, but a cold front came through, brought us rain, and now it’s dry and NOT HUMID like it’s been for so long.  I feel guilty that we’re enjoying such beautiful weather when others are in for a really scary, awful time with the hurricane plus SO MUCH RAIN over the next 5 days or so. :0(

We’ve been trying to get outside each day to do all we can to get caught up on our outside list. Yesterday we mowed and weed whacked a bit. I worked in the flower planters, but mostly spent time with the two planters we’ve converted to square foot gardening and are raising tomatoes in.

I harvested the tomatoes above. As you can see, they aren’t as pretty as the ones we were getting earlier. I spent about an hour on the 8 foot tomato planter, pulling off dead stuff, cutting off some limbs, etc.  We found some Early Girl tomato plants at Yeagers yesterday. We bought two and I planted them in that planter. They’re supposed to produce within 50 days, which would put us into October. We’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope.

I tried to clean up the plants in the nook planter, but they were just too far gone. I finally ended up pulling the plants out.

The suckers I tried to grow in water on my window sill didn’t make it. I’ll try again if I can find some more good suckers.

This morning, while I was out with Amber, I found a BIG spaghetti squash HANGING down outside one of my raised bed square foot garden boxes in the garden!  I got one of the plastic bowl thingies with the pointed thing in the middle that allows you to set growing melons on them, raising them up out of the soil and giving them support – and used it for the spaghetti squash. This will be squash # 4 grown from two seeds in a squash bought at the store.

Today I plant to

  • clean out the hummingbird bird bath we built,
  • work in garden on my veggies
  • work in the flower planters some more.

Tonight we plan to grill burgers on the deck. Such glorious weather! I wish everyone could enjoy it with us!

 

 

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Hope for the Future

Planet Natural

Today I processed the latest harvest of tomatoes. I froze some of them and harvested seeds from the rest.

Right now it looks like someone had a bad accident on paper towels on my counter in the kitchen. I’m in the process of trying to dry the seeds. I’m not sure how smart people do it, but I gathered them in a sieve and ran water over them, picking out the bits of tomato that were left and then blotted the blog of ‘stuff’ between paper towels. I’ll monitor them and get them out in the air as soon as possible to fully dry before trying to store them.

I’ll go out this evening and see if I can get more suckers to plant in water. I transplanted one sucker that had sprouted some tiny roots. I’m a beginner at all this, so this will be a fascinating, challenging process before I can get the hang of it.

I’m enjoying all the rain we’re getting, but it will be nice when I can simply crab about how hot it is, rather than having to dash out in the morning or evening between storms to try to get a bit done outside. I’m getting a list as long as my arm of what is waiting for me to do out there….

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Today’s Harvest

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With the heat index, it feels like it’s 106 degrees F. here this afternoon. I came in dripping from just gathering the ripe tomatoes when we got home from Lunch Bunch and errands.

The tomato production has really slowed. We haven’t had anything but green ones for quite a while. Today, though, some had ripened. They aren’t as pretty as the previous ones, but they taste just as good. We’re coming to the end of the season now. I’m trying to get some tomato suckers started in the house that I can transfer to the greenhouse later, but it’s a challenge.

 

 

 

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