Category Archives: Square Foot Gardening – Raised Beds

Fall Greenhouse Project Report 10-15-2018

The two plants on the left are the small iceberg head lettuce plants I bought recently. They’re still alive, but I can’t say they’re thriving. The plants on the right are the tomato suckers I gathered and planted last week. As you can see, they’re still alive, too. :0)

These are the longer, leggy-looking iceberg head lettuce plants I found several days later. I planted them as deeply as I could, trying to have the soil support the plants as much as possible. They seem to be doing really well. I’m watering the saucers under the plants, rather than the plants themselves, thinking the plants will draw the water up if they’re thirsty.

 

This is looking down at one of the lettuce plants. I’m so pleased so see lots of activity.

The outside temperature this morning is 45 degrees F.  The temp in the greenhouse was between 55 and 60. I still have the electricity hooked up, so the exhaust fan can turn on if it wants to, but I’m not expecting that any time soon. If we’re having anything beyond a temporary cold snap, I’ll probably disconnect the extension cord that runs all the way across the yard from the greenhouse to the back of our home.

In another day or two, if things still look good, I’ll harvest a few leaves of lettuce for our dinner salad!

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Progress in the Greenhouse!

I found these suckers on a tomato plant and replanted them in the greenhouse. I’ll be trying to get lots of others started, as it’s too cool outside now for the tomato plants to create ripe tomatoes. I’m HOPING that I can either have tomato plants ready to replant in the planters in the spring, or even have a ripe tomato or two to enjoy! So far, these seem to be doing well.

Yesterday I turned off the second fan and closed the greenhouse door. The exhaust fan is still hooked up and will turn on if the temp gets over 80 degrees in there.

 

These are the really small lettuce plants I planted about a week ago. They’re still alive, but aren’t having an explosive growth.

 

I took TWO shots of the ‘leggy lettuce’ I planted several days after the small ones. Here you can see how large they are compared to the smaller one on the right.

 

If they continue to do this well, I’ll start carefully cutting larger leaves to include in our dinner salads!

I also have several celery plants I’ll bring out to see how they do. :0)

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It’s Said That a Sucker is Born Every Minute…

Linn Acres Farm

Since our weather is cooling off – finally – here in Greenwood, Arkansas – I’m getting more serious about starting things in the greenhouse.

I told you recently I started some iceberg head lettuce plants. My plants are doing well so far. I just went out and watered the saucers under the plants this afternoon, and the plants seem happy with this procedure. The exhaust fan was on – signaling that cooling was needed in the greenhouse. I still have the secondary fan on and the door on the opposite end of the greenhouse open to encourage as much air flow as possible.

Today while watering, I noticed that fire ants were swarming again on the floor of the greenhouse, so I went back to the garage and mixed up more EIGHT bug spray. I really love this stuff! It kills the bugs while being safe for plants and animals, so I don’t have to worry that our pets will come sniff or come in contact with the wet spray. I also can spray the plants in our raised bed planters in the square foot garden when needed without worrying about the residue on the edible plants.

I sprayed ants, which had shown new ‘homes’ in several places, and then found and planted one six-pack of tomato suckers. The picture above shows what a sucker is. You can plant these and a whole new tomato plant is possible. I’m going to plant a whole bunch of these because I have no clue what I’m doing and expect to lose a lot of the plants. If I can get SOME to survive, though, I may actually get some ripe tomatoes before we have a hard freeze!

I’ll try to accomplish something outside daily now that the weather is ‘my kind of weather.’ Maybe it’ll last long enough I can get things under good control for the winter! :0)

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Greenhouse Lettuce Experiment

 

 

I’m a newbie at growing things in my greenhouse. My husband and I built this last spring. By the time we finished, it was already time to plant things in our raised bed square foot garden, so I didn’t do anything but try to get things into the greenhouse in preparation for planting later. As the spring went into summer, I found that the temperature inside the greenhouse was WAAAAAY too hot – no matter how many fans I ran – to grow anything then.

Now that our temperatures are finally cooling down some, I got the last of the available lettuce plants for sale in town in order to TRY to get them to grow in the greenhouse. I’m hoping that I can keep them alive and we can enjoy fresh iceberg head lettuce and maybe a tomato or two before we get hard freezes. (Today it’s raining, but I’m trying to gather some suckers from our remaining tomato plants to start out there.

The main purpose of the greenhouse is to extend the growing season as much as I can, mainly by starting seeds in there at the first of March, plus maybe getting some plants from the local stores before it’s technically warm enough to start them in the garden. If I can do that, I’ll be a very happy camper, indeed.

I’m trying to give the plants all the water they need by filling the terra cotta and/or faux terra cotta saucers under the pots, rather than watering the pots directly, hoping that the plants will draw up what they need and be happy. So far, so good.

As soon as I can find and get the tomato suckers planted, I’ll give you a progress report.

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Lettuce Plants!

Crestock.com

I told you I planted 5 iceberg head lettuce plants recently. Three of them are still alive. They’re really small, but they’re better than NO lettuce plants. Today I found a six-pack of some really leggy iceberg lettuce plants and snapped them up. I just came in from planting them in the greenhouse.

I still have everything open out there, with the exhaust fan coming on when it gets too hot and a 2nd fan on all the time. The door on the opposite end of the greenhouse is propped open with a metal chair. The thermometer said between 95 and 100 degrees when I planted the lettuce. I’m not sure if the sweet plants will live with it that hot out there, but the evenings are cool and some cooler weather is on the way.

Tomorrow, if it isn’t raining, I’ll try to find suckers on my tomato plants and get them started in the greenhouse too.

This is a grand ‘fall’ experiment. I would really love to have lettuce and tomatoes until it freezes really hard here. That MIGHT be as late as February, if we’re lucky. Then around the first of March, I’ll start some plants for the spring garden!

I’m reading everything I can find on how to start and grow plants in my greenhouse. Frustratingly, most are written for people who are trying to keep their plants WARM, rather than having them boil to death, as mine have. I’ll keep reading, because I would really like to extend our growing seasons as long as possible.

When I get the tomato sucker plants going, I’ll try to get some pics for you.

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Yard

alamy.com

I am devoting the day to working in the yard. Since I’ve been home from seeing Murray, I’ve been getting laundry and the house cleaning under better control. Today it’s time to shift my focus to the yard. My husband mowed recently, so I can concentrate on the smaller things that need doing.

I’ll be out there in several shifts today, resting and hydrating in-between –

  • pruning rose bushes
  • spraying EIGHT bug spray on the ant piles and hostile ants my husband found while mowing, and then while pulling a weed out of a planter on the deck while we were grilling steaks last night
  • planting the head iceberg lettuce six-pack I bought in town yesterday in the greenhouse
  • weeding flower planters
  • finding, cutting and planting tomato suckers in the greenhouse from the plants still alive
  • cleaning up the greenhouse
  • spraying and weeding the planters on the deck
  • using the leaf blower to clean up porch, sidewalks, and garage pad from the grass cutting my husband did
  • weeding and preparing the raised bed planters in the garden for the winter

The list is never-ending, but our weather is cooler, so it’s nicer to tackle some of the issues.

If I actually accomplish something significant, I’ll share some pics later.

One wonderful thing happened in the front yard this morning! I went out to call Amber after Molly had barked to come in. She and Smoke (the gray cat) were together messing with ‘something’ in the yard. I went out to find they had unearthed a mole! I stomped on it a couple of times, but that didn’t kill it. I called to Amber to follow me inside, which she did, reluctantly. She really wanted to continue picking the mole up, biting it, and spitting it out again. I got Amber inside, grabbed the hemostat clamp we have hanging up for when we need to grab bad things securely, and picked up the mole and threw him as far as I could into the woods in front of the civilized part of our yard. I’m hoping that he will either die (yeah, I’m cruel) or if not, satisfy himself tunneling through the 7 acres we’re NOT trying to fashion into some form of a lawn around the house.

Have a great Sunday!

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New Greenhouse Experiment

This is the greenhouse my husband and I built last year. I haven’t done anything with it during the summer because no matter what I did, as far as leaving the door open, running the exhaust fan on the other end, running a second fan on the table, it was over 120 degrees F. in there.

 

Now that it’s finally much cooler, I’m going to see if I can get some plants going and see if I can grow them through the winter!

I got a six-pack of Iceberg head lettuce today. I have some tomato plants still in various stages. I’m going to see if I can get some good suckers from them, and get both things started in the greenhouse.

I need to clean things out in there first. The rain comes in underneath, so the floor is pretty awful right now. I want to extend the heavy extension cord from the house to the greenhouse and get the exhaust and extra fan going, and get some pots set up with Mel’s Mix. I need to find my rooting medium and make sure I have plenty of water out there.

THEN I’ll plant the lettuce, and THEN I’ll see if I can find good suckers on the tomato plants. I haven’t a clue what I’m doing, but if reading and enthusiasm will do it, I’m in.

I’ll post progress (?) reports to let you know how things are going. Fingers, and all other appendages crossed!

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Heat Index Square Foot Gardening

Our actual temperature is forecast for 102 this afternoon. (Heat index will be “105-110+”. ) In the southwest, the denizens say things like, “But it’s a DRY heat” – as if you don’t fry in that. In Arkansas, right now it’s NOT a dry heat, and it’s pretty awful. Even with our irrigation system, flowers and the remaining tomato plants are just barely hanging on.

I cleaned out my square foot garden last week, and am now spraying weed killer on the floor of the garden under the chest-high raised wooden boxes of our garden, as well as around the perimeter of the garden, around the trash cans of the components of Mel’s Mix (the alternative to native soil), etc.

I’m getting good exercise from weed whacking and cleaning up our concrete areas with a leaf blower, toting a 2 gallon container of weed or bug spray, and trying to weed my flower planters without croaking in the heat.

I’ve given up trying to work outside ‘in the morning’ or ‘in the evening’  like sane people do. Something seems to always come up, making it impossible, so I divide my day into

  • ERRANDS – trying to be clean and reasonable presentable
  • HOME – where I just try to stay alive, doing as many sessions as my energy will allow outside (taking breaks and drinking lots of water), and then going up for a shower, clean clothes, and lots of rest the remainder of the day.

I used to be like the picture above, loving to bake in the heat of the summer, preferably beside a swimming pool, but not a necessary thing. Now I barely step outside and I’m wet from head to toe and avoiding the heat as much as I’m able.  I love working in my garden and with my flowers, but NOT when I’m frying like an egg.

“What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it. ” ~ Charles Dudley Warner

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The Wicked Witch is Dead

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I just came in gasping and weaving, from getting the garden cleaned up – making a check to make sure I harvested all the onions yesterday – pulling off the demarking strings (most of them snapped the minute I touched them) and re-spraying the bug killer in the boxes again.

The last step will be when I can get my breath back and my temperature down below ‘WAAAAAY – too – hot.’  I’m going to mix up weed killer and spray it on the floor of the garden, and all around. At another time I’ll do the weed eating of what I hope will be dead weeds around everything and then I’ll be ready for fall, hoping that we don’t go directly from lethally hot summer into way-too-cold fall.

We have GOOD air conditioning in our home and in our vehicles, so we can insulate ourselves from it, unless we’re determined to get yard work done.  I’m counting the sessions working in the garden as most of my exercise for the day. Once I’m finished with that, I’ll do my yoga and then head for the showers.

I hope that if it’s hot where you are, you have somewhere to go to give you some relief.

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The Heat Index is WHAT?

Our heat index this afternoon is forecast to be 105. Our hottest month here in Arkansas is August. I can’t wait.

Yesterday I started a weekend project of cleaning out our raised bed square foot garden, since Mother Nature has cooked it despite daily irrigation. The first thing I did was spray the six 4′ x 4′ chest high wooden boxes with EIGHT, a spray that kills bugs, but doesn’t harm plants, animals, or people. Then I started pulling out dying plants. This took several sessions, but I got it done. I had to re-spray one of the boxes because when I pulled out some bolted lettuce, the ants came spewing up. They didn’t bite/sting me this time, though, thank goodness. I dug onions out and spread them on the screen part of our trailer to dry in the sun for several days.

Today I’ll do a bunch of clean up. I need to empty the two or three trashcan-fuls of plants I pulled and take them over to the barrel composter. I’ll take the strings off that mark the planting squares, since several broke when I was taking plants out. I still haven’t been able to find a string that doesn’t degrade rapidly in the sun, but I’ll continue looking. I’ll make  sure I got all the onions and then re-spray the soil in the boxes with the bug killer.

I want to mix up some weed killer and spray it on the wood chipped floor of the garden area, and then around the perimeter of the garden, plus around the propane tank, trashcans of Mel’s Mix, etc.

I’ll feel happy if I can finish the “Cleanup of the Garden” finished by the end of the day.

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Progress on the Garden

Gill Cordiner.blogspot.com

I’m making reasonable progress, even though I’m melting into a puddle.

I sprayed everything in the yard with the EIGHT bug killer. I have two of the six 4’x4′ raised garden boxes cleaned out. (I had to stop, go into the house and wash my arms and hands because I ran into another bunch of fire ants in the garden when I pulled out a plant.) I didn’t get stung or bitten, and went out and hosed that box down again with the bug killer. I’ve put in three sessions so far today and am about to go out again. Getting lots of exercise, a reasonable number of steps on my pedometer, and am still alive. :0)

 

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I’m Getting My Exercise Today – Cleaning Out My Garden

amazinganimalstoriesl.com

I’m inside, trying to catch my breath, drink a bottle of water, and relax a bit before going outside again for another session on my weekend project – cleaning out my raised bed square foot garden boxes.

The heat index is now 97 degrees (90 degrees with 55% humidity). Our forecast temperature is 98 today. Unless the humidity drops drastically, that will be a heat index of 117 this afternoon. UGH.

Mother Nature has pretty well killed off my spring garden. The plants are no match for her, even with daily irrigation, so I’m throwing in the towel and cleaning things up for next time.

I’m going to do this in SEVERAL sessions during the weekend, trying to stay hydrated and not get heat or sun stroke.

(My husband is smarter – tackling a project where he can work inside our shop. He turned on the A/C this morning and has just gone out there soon to start work, refurbishing a roll-around chair for our wonderful hair stylist and friend, Michael.)

Since the outside work needs to be done, the garden and flower planters are my domain around here, and it’s not getting any cooler for the foreseeable future, I’m just going to be careful and get it done.

  • I’m half way through the first part – spraying the garden, tomato planters, and flower planters with bug spray so I hopefully don’t get stung/bitten/ or otherwise assaulted by our hostile insect population. (My ankle is still puffy from the last fire ant attack.)  I’m using EIGHT, a spray that isn’t supposed to affect the plants at all, won’t hurt our pets, and will JUST give me some relief.
  • The second part of the project will be pulling out the dying plants in the garden and harvesting the onions, spreading them on a screen we have on a trailer out by the shop to dry in the sun.
  • The third part of the project will be mixing some weed killer and spraying the ground under the raised bed planter boxes in the garden, around the perimeter of the garden, and around the trash cans of the components of Mel’s Mix along the back of the shop.

If I can finish this by the end of the weekend, anything ELSE I do will be gravy.

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You Know It’s Hot

Patsy Saudeda – quotesgram.com

The heat index is 105 degrees right now. Not fit for man nor beast.

Thankfully, my husband mowed the yard last night right before dark, so the Lewises are lookin’ pretty good (for the Lewises). One of the many reasons we don’t live in the city limits is that we didn’t care for trimming our lawn to a required height and in the proper frequency, agonizing over brown spots, moles, voles, or other ‘ole’s, etc. We usually mow once a week, weather permitting, and my husband is delighted when we get to the stage in the summer where we aren’t getting any rain to keep the grass growing before our eyes. “Brown and crunchy’ is his favorite grass.

I never got back outside yesterday after gathering tomatoes and getting into the hostile ant pile. My ankle is FINALLY only a bit puffy today. The swelling is such that you can actually SEE the bites/stings rather than my ankle being one pink puffy area all the way around.  I’m planning to try to get the garden cleared tonight, but I’ll mix up more EIGHT to spray all the plants, all the raised bed planters, and the ground around them before I try to start clearing things out right before dark this evening.

I’m going to pull out all the plants, including the onions. I’ll put the onions on a screen we have on the side of a trailer so that they can start drying. They’ll need to do that for several days and then I can store them in mesh bags in the pantry. I’m hoping we got a good crop this year. Last year we had home-grown sweet onions throughout the winter and into the start of April!

If you’re having similar weather, don’t forget to take frequent breaks and drink lots and lots of water.

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I Picked the Tomatoes, But…

 

Our heat index is supposed to be over 100 today, so I decided I would get out and see if we had any tomatoes I could bring in. As you can see, we had several nice looking ones.

The problem is that an ant nest was nearby and I apparently disturbed the sweet little things as I walked to the tomato planter. All of a sudden, my left ankle was stinging. I looked down to find a gazillion (give or take) ants on my shoe and ankle. I slapped them off as best I could and came in with the tomatoes I had gathered.

I immediately took off shoe and sock and put Benedryl cream all over my ankle. Now I’m watching my ankle get pink and puffy while it continues to sting and itch. There isn’t enough spray in the world to spray our whole yard (8+acres), but I’m going to make a concerted effort to spray all around the civilized part of the yard around the house and garden as soon as this subsides….

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Bummed

I just went out to the garden to see what’s what. Our weather has been so bleeping hot that I haven’t spent as much time as I normally would.

My husband and I built a really nice raised bed square foot garden so that I could grow some of our veggies. We spent a lot of time on it, building 4 foot x 4 foot, 8 inches deep wooden boxes, lining the bottoms with plastic and mounting them on ‘tables’ of metal about my chest height so I wouldn’t have to bend over double or get up and down on my knees. We ran irrigation so that we can control the watering. We used Mel’s Mix, a combination of peat moss, vermiculite and as many different kinds of compost as we can find to create a really nice medium that plants love. It’s easy to plant, water, weed, and harvest.

Yet it was mostly wasted effort this year, due to our much cooler and wetter than normal spring followed by August weather in May. There is just no way that lettuce, broccoli and spinach can thrive in this heat. The plants practically boil in the ground.

 

As you can see, everything is bolting, wilting, or dying. Even the cantaloupe can’t handle this weather.

Today’s project is several sessions in order to clean everything out, harvesting the onions and leaving things ready to plant, hopefully if we have good fall weather. My greenhouse is 120 degrees inside, even with the automatic exhaust fan running continually, so I turned that off. I’ll concentrate on cleaning things up and trying to be ready for my next chance.

Meanwhile, we’ve been enjoying truly incredibly tasty tomatoes from the one planter in the nook created by the back of the house and our screened porch. They are YUMMY. If that’s all we’re going to get now, I’m still smiling.

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1st Tomato Harvest of 2018

These aren’t perfect, but they’re delicious! I harvested one small one the other day, got two of these last night, and two more just a few minutes ago. I can’t wait to slice one up and bite it!

One of our tomato planters isn’t doing well. The plants have blossom end rot. Though I’ve treated them with bone meal and Blossom End Rot spray, I’m not sure I can solve the problem. The nook planter in the spot behind our house and next to our screened porch is doing much better. We have lots of green tomatoes that I’m hoping will ripen.

This has been a hard year for gardens here in Arkansas. I was comparing notes with my friend, ‘gardening expert’ Kay, at Breakfast Bunch this morning. She says her garden is basically a bust this year, too. We had a cool, wet spring followed abruptly by August temperatures and strong sun starting in May. This has pretty much done everything in. I still have some cantaloupe plants that are healthy with lots of blossoms, but no actual melons yet. I also have onions, and I may start to harvest them soon. Other than that, a few radishes and the one good planter of tomatoes.

I may just cut my losses and clean most everything up soon.

We continued the clean up after the dismantling of the hummingbird bird bath when we got home today. The good hose is now on the holder. The ratty hose is in the burn barrel. The potting soil is in the large, low, round planter and saucer, ready for me to get out there and plant the Impatiens we found at Wal-Mart. They’re a little bit worse for wear, but then, so are we!  :0) I’ll take pics when they’re planted.

I don’t plan to do a lot more outside today unless things cool off a lot.  I’m still stiff and sore from cutting down and hauling tree parts yesterday.

The ‘inside list’ is off the page, so I’ll tackle it this afternoon.

Have a great day!

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Melting

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.” – Luther Burbank

The heat index today is 103, and might get to 105.  The only thing that really bothers me – having the luxury of staying inside in the a/c when the weather is this hot – is that this is happening in JUNE, not mid-July or August, when it usually does.  Makes me really wonder what it’ll be in our usual HOT months.

We have already switched to summer mode around here, where we’re inside during the day, if possible, and then dash out at about 7 pm and do as much in the yard as we can, leaving more for the next evening.

Last night I weed-whacked the front yard while my husband mowed in the back. He ordered new blades for the mower, and they came today. He put them on in the shop this afternoon, after having the a/c on out there for about an hour, then came back in to cool off.  I’m not sure if he’ll mow the front yard tonight, but I’m going to see if I can finish the basic weed whacking.  Amber doesn’t care that the water in her kiddie pool is yucky after the storms, but I do! I’m going to see if I can get that cleaned out and refilled, too.

As we age, my husband and I have noticed that we’re ‘comfortable’ in a MUCH narrower range of temperatures. I used to love to sunbathe when I was a teenager. I really loved the heat, baking until I could throw myself into a pool, then baking again. I would have loved to live near the beach, so I could play with some sandpipers a bit, too. Now I walk from the house to the car in the garage and I’m already too hot. I can work outside now only if I wear a sweatband. I quietly picture myself as looking if I’m on a tennis court, dressed and ready for the first volley, even though I KNOW I’m an actually an old broad trying to last an hour while weed-whacking. Last night I came in, practically gasping for breath after working an hour, going straight for a bottle of water and a towel. I saw myself in a mirror and laughed aloud when I saw what I looked like. I looked a bit more human after a nice shower and clean clothes :0). I think our range of ‘comfortable’ temperatures now is about 20 degrees before we’re too hot or too cold.

I’ve told you we live on top of a ridge line in Greenwood, Arkansas. When we found our land and built our home over 30 years ago, we had the construction people use dynamite to blow up the back yard while they were already blasting for our septic system, etc. We (mainly me) dreamed of having a swimming pool. My husband wanted one with a diving board. I taught swimming each summer from the time I was 14 until after I was in college. I dreamed of being able to dump myself in our pool just before bed at night, swimming my heart out until I was relaxed and exhausted. We ran out of money before we could build the pool, so it remained only a dream. Now – if I win the lottery, or the Publisher’s Clearing House, I would still like to build a pool in the back yard, along with a really great-looking young pool boy to keep it perfect at all times…

In the meantime, I’ll delight in working in my garden and my flower planters in the hour before dark, trying to figure out the best way to use my new greenhouse to best effect. (It’s over 120 degrees in there now, even with the exhaust fan going.)

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A Tale of Two Planters

We have two brick planters on the east side of the house we converted to square foot garden containers. One of them is 2 feet x 8 feet and the other is a square, 4 feet on a side, in the nook between the back of the house and our screened porch.

The plants in the nook look extremely healthy and have some nice-sized green tomatoes. The plants in the other planter aren’t happy. I’ve had a few ripened tomatoes – all with blossom end rot.

According to what I’m reading, this is caused by uneven watering, too much fertilizer, or a lack of calcium. We have an irrigation system, and everything seems to be thriving with the once a day watering they’re receiving, except for this planter, so I don’t think this is the reason. I fertilized with some tomato food when I first planted, but none since. I suspect a lack of calcium. I sprayed the plants with “Rot-Stop” a couple of days ago. I then worked some bone meal into the soil around each plant yesterday morning. I’m not sure if there is anything else I can do, so I’ll just watch and wait a bit to see if this helps.

One of our favorite things in all the world is fresh sliced tomatoes, so I’m hoping that we end up with a good crop!

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Clearing Out the Garden

Today I did a first session on clearing out the garden of bolted lettuce and broccoli plants. According to my heat index chart, 48% humidity doesn’t make the 85 degree temperature much worse. According to my old body, it’s really hot outside. I spent half an hour pulling out hugely tall lettuce and broccoli plants. The praying of the EIGHT

bug spray last week was still holding. I didn’t see ANY ants in the garden! It’ll take another session or two before I have things under control, but I got the worse of it done. The cantaloupe vines are looking good, with lots of blossoms, but no actual melons yet. I’ll take pics when things are a bit more under control.

One of the tomato planters is doing really well. The other one, not so much. The sad one had some ripe tomatoes, but they had blossom end rot, showing they didn’t have enough calcium. I sprayed them with Blossom End Rot stuff,

and tomorrow I’ll get some bone meal to work into the soil around the plants. I don’t know if that will be enough to save them or not, but I’m giving it a try. The other planter in the nook beside the screened porch is looking good with some fairly large green tomatoes. I’m hopeful we’ll have a good harvest from that planter. We LOVE fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes!

I mixed up another batch of EIGHT and got about half of it sprayed before needing to rest again. I found a big mound of the awful fire ants right next to our sidewalk in the back. There was one large mound and another smaller one. I hosed both of them down and caused much consternation among the ant population. I’ll spray them again later today and see if I can knock them out. I’m grateful that this spray doesn’t harm plants or our animals – just the bugs.

My husband is working on our small riding lawn mower, trying to solve some kind of problem with the blades. I’m going to go out to the shop and check on him now, and hopefully get him to come back and eat some lunch.  Hopefully, later I’ll finish the bug spraying and get the rose bushes pruned.

I hope you’re having a good day.

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Tired, But Clean

Klyker

My husband and I bought two kinds of salvia, 3 six-packs of impatiens, 2 mandevilla, and 15 small pots of wave petunias at the nursery yesterday. Since our weather has been wonky – with a cooler than normal spring followed by hotter than normal summer temperatures – it’s been all I could do to try to keep up with our vegetable garden, our flower planters, and the yard.

I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to get ANY of our normal choices, but we did pretty well. Then there was the prospect of getting everything planted. Yesterday I planted the two mandevilla and some of the petunias on the deck. This morning it was already in the high 80s when I started planting. I finished the deck, saving one wave petunia to go in the planter at the entrance to our shop. My husband keeps a jug of water out there so that he can water ‘his’ flowers…. :0)

Then I cleaned out Amber’s kiddie pool. I scrubbed it with the car broom, drained it a bit more than halfway, scrubbed it again, and then dumped out the rest of the water. My husband suggested that we put it on the east side of the house where it gets a bit more shade so the water would stay cooler. I got it into a reasonable spot, sprayed it out again, and then started to fill it. Amber came running around the side of the house, jumped into the filling pool, laid down in it, drank some of the water, then jumped out into the dirt, now made into mud by her dripping body. She loved it. She ran all around like a mad thing, started digging in the dirt, and then, of course, jumped into the pool with the muddy paws. She laid down again, smiled at me, bit at the sprayer hose, jumped out…. You get the picture. The water isn’t pristine, but it’s much better than it was, the pool has been moved to a better spot now, and the dog is ecstatic. Mission accomplished.

I then used another hose to clean up the deck where I had made a mess planting. I used the “less is more” philosophy this time, emptying 4 big pots I usually fill with flowers. We have really nice, bright burgundy wave petunias and mandevillas on the deck now – making a nice spot to sit outside – assuming this abnormally hot weather tames down for a bit before we officially get into the too-hot-to-sit-outside part of the summer.

I took time while the pool was filling to move the nice Joseph’s Coat climbing rose-bush my friend Kay gave me for my birthday in March to a sunnier spot where I think it will be happier.

That’s it for the day on working outside, until this evening before the sun goes down, when I plan to mix up batches of ‘ant-to-elephant’ bug spray that I can use on my veggie garden. I plan to hose everything down, use a stronger spray for the ant hill I discovered, wait a day or so, and then see how things are out there. I still have pink areas up and down my arms from the angry ants that bit/stung me for disrupting their ‘homes’ as I pulled up cool weather plants, but the swelling and itching are finally mostly contained, thank goodness.  I’ve just come down from taking a long shower and putting on clean clothes. Ahhhh!

I hope that you have fun playing in the dirt at your house, too.

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Ants – Ouch!

I worked with the bug crime artist yesterday to come up with this drawing of one of my assailants yesterday. I’m still swelled up in big, pink, itchy welts all over my forearms from trying to clean up our square foot garden yesterday. I’ve taken Benedryl and am slathered with anti-inch stuff that is supposed to be soothing.  The welts aren’t quite as puffy as they were yesterday, so I think I’m getting better.

I’ve never had this problem before. It’s one of the many reasons I love my raised bed (chest level) square foot gardening boxes. Today we’ll talk to the people in town at the co-op, seeing if we can find something that will ‘kill the ants without hurting the plants.’  (Hey! That could be a good slogan for the ant spray people! :0) )

I looked up ants to see what good they do for us – and mostly found stuff to kill them. Supposedly, though, they  “clean up dead bugs and organic waste in your landscape.” I’m not sure that this makes taking residence in my veggies acceptable. I have pulled out the plants (that’s why I got all these bites/stings),  but I’ll treat the Mel’s Mix in the boxes before I do much more out there.

Most home remedies I’ve tried are ineffective, but I really don’t want to cause harm to my plants (or us – eating the plants after washing carefully.)

If I find something that the experts at the co-op suggest, I’ll let you know.

UPDATE:  I found an insect killer that I can use in the garden – on the veggies and in the Mel’s Mix. It’s called Eight Insect Control by Bonide.  The expert at Farmer’s Co-Op said it kills everything he could think of (the bottle says it kills over 100 named insect pests) and can be used on vegetables, fruits, flowers, lawns, tree, etc. It keeps working for up to 4 weeks. HOORAY!  He said I could spray in the morning and eat the veggies in the evening – after washing them well, of course.

 

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Trying to Clean Up the Garden

I’ve just come in from the first session of pulling up bolted and spoiled lettuce, spinach, and broccoli from the garden. The temperatures in the 90’s are more than the poor plants can take, even with being irrigated daily.

I was pulling up plants to be added to the compost barrel when I suddenly noticed I was being bitten or stung. I found little bitty ants on the spoiled plants, and now running up and down my arms and biting me.  I’ve taken some Benedryl, since I’m swelling up in reaction, and I’ll put the ointment on, as well. This adds nicely to the still-pink, still -slightly-raised area remaining from the sting I got from a scorpion last week. I’m beginning to think I’ll have to start wearing body armor and tenting, as bee keepers wear.

pixshark.com

 

It’ll take me another couple of sessions to finish out there, and then I’ll try to get some pics to share with you.

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Consequences

We went from a cooler and wetter-than-usual spring immediately to HOT summer, with record-setting temperatures for this time of year here in Arkansas. Consequences: it has wreaked havoc with my poor veggie garden. It was nice and lush just a bit of a week ago and then the lettuce started to bolt.

what-is-this.net

This is what lettuce bolting looks like. When the weather is in the high 90’s, there is little one can do to avoid this. When lettuce bolts, the leaves get bitter, so there is nothing to do but pull the plants out and put them in the compost barrel.

 

I’m going to be pulling plants today. I’ll take pics of what’s left when I get things cleaned up a bit. A week ago I found a few more head lettuce plants and what is called, “Stir-fry broccoli” that I planted. The jury is still out on whether these will live or not.

 

If you don’t know what you’re looking at here, these plants look healthy. Lettuce plants are supposed to be lush, but NOT tall, like these are.

It’s sad to come to the end of so many things at the same time, but I’m hopeful I’ll still have many plants remaining when I finish the clean out.

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Romaine Harvest and Yard Work

All of my romaine lettuce plants are bolting in the heat. That means that the plants which used to be fat and lush, suddenly shoot up into the air, looking like miniature trees. I tasted some of the leaves on the ‘trees’ and they tasted fine, so I cut off all the bolting parts of the plants, harvested the leaves and brought them in.

I couldn’t know less about what I’m doing, but the rest of each plant still looked pretty good, so I’m hoping there are good leaves to harvest later. Time will tell.

I brought in a big basket of the best leaves, dumped them into the sink so I could get them clean, and then stored them in gallon bags and put them in the fridge. We’ll have some in our salad with dinner this evening.

The sun is so hot I was really shot when I brought the leaves in. I let them soak in the sink while I rested and gulped water. I cooled off and then washed and stored the leaves, then rested again!

I just came in from scrubbing and refilling Amber’s pool. I use my husband’s car washing broom. It works just fine to clean without hurting the plastic of the pool. I loosen everything, drain about half the water out, then use the broom again, then dump the rest of the water out. Then I spray the pool out and leave the hose in the pool, held down by two bricks, to fill it.

When it was about half full, Amber came bounding around the house, looked at me, and then jumped right into the pool. She walked around, drank some of the water, then laid down full length in the water. I could almost hear her say, “Ahhhh!” as she gave me a very satisfied look. She got out, shook water all over me, then started barking at the hose. When I laughed, she jumped into the pool again and luxuriated some more. I finally finished filling the pool and put everything away. Amber is snoring on her bed in the living room now.

At dusk, my husband and I will do our first pass at cutting back the greenery on the sides of the driveway. I’ll put our battery-powered weed eater in the back and my sunglasses that wrap around, and my gloves, so that when we get to the bottom, we can do some weed whacking and pruning. Then we’ll go slowly up the other side of the driveway, cutting things back as we go, and we’ll be finished for the day. Our driveway is long and steep – about 650 feet, so this will take several passes to get it the way it should be.

I hope that you’ve had a wonderful day, too.

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Weekend of Playing in the Dirt

stayathomeeducator.com via sites.psu.edu

 

This weekend we’ll be in and out, trying to get as much accomplished in the yard as we can – while living to tell the tale.

The weather looks like typical July or August for us – lots of bright sun, 90’s – 100+ temperatures and little, if any, chance of rain. The problem is that it’s only May!  We have doors and windows open most of the morning and then have to close up to run a/c for the afternoon and early evening, opening up again when if/when possible.

  • The bright sunshine after rain last week is causing our grass to grow as we watch, so mowing and weed-whacking will be one thing we need to do this weekend.
  • I need to scrub out and refill Amber’s kiddie pool. She doesn’t ‘swim’ in it a whole lot, but she rarely goes out during the day without running through it, drinking a bit of it, and maybe lying down in it enough to cool herself off a bit. (She is 14 months old now and weighs 93 lbs. To say it’s a ‘challenge’ for us to keep up with her is a laughable understatement. :0)
  • The rain and sunshine are causing the trees – and other ‘stuff’ on both sides of our long, steep driveway – to attempt to grow together, blocking anyone from coming up or going down. I’ll drive the truck slowly up and down the driveway – my husband with loppers and a ladder in the back – cutting things back. We’ll need to do this several times before it will be reasonable again. We also need to cut down things at the bottom of the driveway. Our robot is almost surrounded by greenery!
  • My raised bed square foot garden needs a lot of work. Yesterday we got some lettucy-type plants, broccoli ‘stir-fry’ plants, and some cantaloupe plants at the co-op. I got them planted, but need to harvest, prune, pull-up, and otherwise get the garden under better control. My bolted lettuce plants need to be pulled, chopped up, and added to our compost barrel.

And the list goes on. We’ll do as much as we can – resting between sessions and drinking boatloads of water.  Assuming we can do most of this by the end of the weekend, we’ll go to our local nursery next week to find some flowers for the deck and yard.

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

 

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A Bit of New Life for the Garden

Today after a nice time at Lunch Bunch, we stopped at the co-op on the off chance that they might have a few plants for our garden. I found a couple of lettucy type plants that I hope will fill in where my romaine is bolting and not long for this world. I also found a plant called, “broccoli stir-fry.” Since I’ve harvested the majority of the main part of the broccoli plants and I’m not sure if I’ll get more from any of these, I’m happy that I may have another chance for more broccoli this season.

The fact that we’ve gone directly from winter to summer this year is hard on the garden, particularly for the cool-weather plants like broccoli, spinach, and lettuce.

 

 

This is one of the lettucy plants and two cantaloupe plants at which my husband was looking longingly. Since it looks like a lot of the rest of my plants have a very short life span remaining, I’m happy to try these. (The last melon type plant I tried took over the whole 4’x4′ box, so I’m going to plan for this.)

It’s WAY too hot right now to be trying to work in the garden, so I’m doing other stuff while waiting for the sun to tone it down a bit. (We’re having a high of around 90 with humidity at 61% right now – way too hot for this old lady.) I’ll try to take some pics to share later.

 

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Yesterday’s Harvest

I’m grateful for the harvest yesterday. In the picture above you can see that my spinach plants are not enjoying the heat. Lettuce and spinach are cool weather plants and I usually enjoy quite a harvest before the too-hot begins. I’ll harvest as much spinach as possible because I can freeze it.

 

The head lettuce leaves are still okay, but looking a bit stressed. These plants are happier than anything else, with the exception of the radishes, in the square foot garden right now.

 

I’m sad because the really hot-too-soon in the season weather we’ve been having is causing the romaine lettuce to bolt. I’m not sure how much more I can harvest before the leaves taste bitter and I have to compost the plants.

 

We’ll enjoy the fresh lettuce and spinach for salad each day for as long as possible. I’m not sure whether I’ll get more broccoli, but the hope is that I’ll get more from the shoots from the main plant after the center has been harvested. The radishes and onions are doing fine, although some of the green tops of the onions are shooting up and trying to make seeds. The tomato plants on the other side of the house are growing rapidly. They like the heat. I have a few blossoms, so I’m hopeful we’ll enjoy a nice crop this year.

 

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Playing in the Dirt

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I’m trying to spend a bit of time each day in either my veggie garden or my flower planters. Yesterday I didn’t do anything heavy, recuperating from earlier endeavors, so today I’m redoubling my efforts to get outside.

We’re having way-too-soon hot weather here, so my romaine lettuce plants are bolting. :0(    We’ve been able to harvest a couple of times, and I’ll try to save as much as I can in the few days we have left before the plants soar to the sky, getting several feet high – I guess in their efforts to live a bit longer and make seed.

My husband wanted to go today to get flowers for the deck, but I’m so behind in my garden and my flower planters I asked him to wait until tomorrow or Thursday. I usually jump at the chance to get more flowers, but I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, particularly since I can’t work very long in this heat and don’t get as much accomplished as I would like.

I love spending time playing in the dirt. I’m concentrating my efforts in the morning and then in the evening, when the sun isn’t as strong. I work a bit, come in and rest and gulp water, then go out again, over and over. I love watching my plants thrive!

I’ll try to get some pictures to share with you later.

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Garden Harvest – May, 2018

broccoli

I harvested this yesterday when it was super hot. I didn’t harvest any romaine because I just got too hot out there. I’ll do that later today.

 

head lettuce

 

Spinach

I also wanted to show you our tomato plants in the two planters we converted to square foot gardening on the east side of the house.

 

The first tomato blossom of the season!

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Ready for Another Harvest!

Our raised bed square foot garden is doing well so far this year. We have six 4’x4′ boxes on metal ‘tables’ at about my chest level. I can just walk up to them, planting, weeding, or harvesting without having to get up and down from my knees or bend over double – a thing I can’t tell you how very MUCH I appreciate!

 

We are growing iceberg head lettuce, romaine lettuce, sweet onions, radishes, spinach and broccoli. We have two converted planters on the east side of the house with tomato plants.

 

I’m going to go out and harvest some things today, but I wanted to show you how nice the plants look before I do.

 

 

 

I have some celery started in the kitchen that I’m hoping I can transplant to these empty squares soon.

 

 

On the lower right, you can see the start of radishes in the square.

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Garden Update – May 7, 2018

This afternoon we went out to check on the garden – weeding, harvesting, and taking pictures. I got hot and tired, so I didn’t do any harvesting today, but will tomorrow. We got the weeds taken care of, and everything seems to be very happy.

 

I was surprised to see how the broccoli has grown! Last week I had to look really carefully to see any sign at all of the broccoli head. I’ll harvest some of this tomorrow. I learned last year that the broccoli goes from this to really spread out like a bouquet and not good to eat fast. I’m hoping that I can encourage shoots off the main plant to produce more.

 

I lost one lettuce plant, and I have no clue what happened, since all the rest looked like this. We have romaine and iceberg head lettuce.

 

The onion plants are tall and strong looking. The spinach is still looking happy, although it prefers the cooler temperatures.

 

 

I planted several squares of radishes last week, and you can see them here.

I decided to spread my plants out a lot more this year. I think that the square foot garden guy, Mel Bartholomew, gets a lot more involved with his garden than we do. My plants grew into each other last year and where the plants met, they seemed to smother. Everything seems happier this year, so far, with my idea of more air circulation around each plant.

I didn’t get pictures today of the two tomato planters on the other side of the house, but I’ll try to get some soon. They seem to be happy right now.

We turned on the irrigation system for the planters in the front yard and found where we had a blow-out. My husband said it looked like a ‘critter’ had been chewing on the pvc pipe that runs across the front of the yard, down over the edge between the ‘civilized’ and ‘woody’ parts. He had ordered a special repair tape a couple of years ago. This seemed a perfect time to try it. He wrapped the pvc pipe where the chew marks were and we’ll test it tomorrow, after it has time to adhere to itself fully.

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