Category Archives: Square Foot Gardening – Raised Beds

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

grilloservies.com

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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Square Foot Garden Progress – April

 

Yesterday I showed you the first harvest from our spring veggie garden. I’m delighted that everything seems to be happy so far.

The raised bed square foot garden consists of six 4’x4′ wooden boxes about my chest level filled with Mel’s Mix (a combination of peat moss, vermiculite, and three or more kinds of compost.) The boxes are divided into ‘squares’ by stretched string. I have opted to space things out a lot more this year because I lost a lot of produce by having the plants growing into each other. I decided to opt for a lot more air and space for each plant and see what happens.

We also have tomato plants in two converted brick planters on the other side of the house. We’ll plant another group of tomato plants soon so that we can space out our harvest and extend it as much as possible.

In the picture above you can see broccoli plants, spinach, iceberg head lettuce, romaine lettuce, and onions. I’ll add some radish seeds soon (as soon as I get the squares weeded) and also celery (when the ones I started in the house are large enough.)

Each box has a sprinkler in the center that are connected by pieces of hose. These are all tied to a main hose that connects to a rural type outside faucet. We put a timer on it so that the garden is irrigated each morning.

I’m going to wash spinach, romaine, and iceberg lettuce for our salad today harvested yesterday from the garden. I hope that one day we can eat our own broccoli!

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1st Harvest – 2018

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We’re having scattered showers today. I decided to go out to the garden and bring in some produce for the salad we’ll enjoy tomorrow. Of course, the rain started when I was just starting to snip…

PurifyouPremiumReusableMesh

Since Nutrisystem suggests that you NOT wash produce until just before you eat it, and also suggested that produce will last longer in these mesh bags, I took three of the bags out to the garden with me and harvested the produce right into the bags: one for spinach, one for iceberg lettuce, and one for romaine lettuce.

 

1st Harvest – Spinach

 

1st Harvest – Iceberg Lettuce

 

1st Harvest – Romaine Lettuce

Even though my efforts at growing a garden don’t save us money, the produce we get is so fresh, and it’s so much fun to go out and snip the ingredients for salad from your own garden!

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Square Foot Garden After Storm

We had bad storms with a strong cold front Friday afternoon and evening – including tornadoes, damaging winds, rain, hail, and flying hair balls. I was worried that my fledgling square foot garden plants would get battered.  Yesterday and today we’ve had cold temperatures for April in Arkansas – barely 40 and gusty north winds.

As you can see, the garden is doing fine. WHEW!  Thank  goodness these are all cool weather plants!  I may lose some of my tomato plants, but the rest of the garden is good.

 

 

Broccoli

 

Iceberg Head Lettuce

 

Romaine Lettuce

 

Spinach

It’s almost time to start snipping!  I can gather the outer, larger leaves of the lettuces and the spinach soon. As soon as it warms up a bit, I’ll get some radishes started.

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Good Morning!

IncredibleSayings

I just took the doggies out, walking straight out to the garden to see if our plants made it through the night. It was due to get close to freezing this morning, and I debated whether to try to cover things up. I finally decided I had too many things to cover and would just hope for the best.

It wouldn’t have been the end of the world if the plants had frozen, but they were doing really well and I would have been very disappointed if Mother Nature had zapped everything.

Everything is good!

I hope that the weather is good where you are this morning. I wonder what the day will bring?

 

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I’ve Definitely Quit Dancing!

piccsy.com

Okay. We were in the middle of a drought and it even caused bad problems with our water supply, making the turnovers in the lakes cause our water to have a bad odor and taste.  Wildfire danger was high. Warm, windy days were worrisome.  I started doing mental and physical rain dances, trying to get our area over the problem.

Mother Nature listened. I’m not sure if she saw and heard ME, or if a whole lot of people were also doing rain dances, but she delivered. Big Time. We’ve had rain, rain showers, heavy rain, storms, sleet, and more rain. I’ve definitely STOPPED even thinking about rain dances, but now I’m thinking Mother Nature is saying, “You wanted rain. Okay. Here it is!”

Today we’re due for MORE storms, particularly between 11:00 and 3 this afternoon with possible severe weather.  We did a group of errands this morning, paring our list down to one appt this afternoon, in an effort to be ONLY blown away, rather than blown away and DROWNED trying to get our stuff done.

The doggies came and demanded that I take them out a couple of minutes ago, insisting they would blow up if I didn’t take them out NOW. I complied, then came back for my camera, to record some of the beauty I found while walking around the yard. The storm today might wreak havoc with our yard, so I wanted to try to catch Mother Nature at her BEST – first.

Every day the wisteria gets more lush and more purple.

It SMELLS wonderful, too!

We have purple iris blooming in planters, in clusters around the yard, even off the edge of the civilized part of our yard, plus down our driveway.

 

We have buds on the three new Rio Samba rose bushes, and now some of the buds are starting to open up!

 

A knock out rose bush is starting to have blooms.

 

This is the north side of our square foot garden.

And the south side.

The winds really picked up while I took pics and walked the dogs. We’ll probably be right in the heart of the thunderstorms this afternoon, since we have to be out at 1:30. It’s a good thing we don’t melt in the rain. We’re thankful for our warm, dry home. Our doggies have already snuggled down for a nap, and even the two cats came in with us.

Have a wonderful day. Stay warm and dry!

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Between Deluges

The Nourished Soul

I almost didn’t recognize the huge orb in the sky this morning. It’s been at least a week since we’ve seen it, and it was truly a glorious sight. On one of the many ‘walk-the-doggies’ trips I’ve taken today, I took some pictures of my veggie garden.

 

We built our raised bed veggie boxes with drain holes, but we’ve been getting SO much rain relentlessly, I was afraid I would find the boxes washed out and the veggies on the ground. Happily, everything seems to be doing well.

 

Here is iceberg lettuce and some onions.

 

This is the north side of the garden. You can see broccoli, spinach, onions, iceburg lettuce, and romaine lettuce.

 

Here’s a better pic of some spinach and some romaine lettuce, plus some onions.

 

This is the south side of the garden.

And here is the first group of tomato plants. I plan to plant more in a couple of weeks to extend our harvesting season.

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Believing in Tomorrow

Audrey Hepburn via GrowingBolder.com via Cathy Ruggiero

 

tomato plants

“It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of the new season.” ~ Kate Morton

Raised Bed Planters – Row 1

“My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view. ” ~ H. Fred Dale

 

Raised Bed Planters – Row 2

“In every gardener there is a child who believes in The Seed Fairy.” ~Robert Brault

We’re due for rain starting this afternoon – going from “Thunderstorms,” to “Heavy Rain,” to “Showers,” to “A.M. Showers,” to “Thunderstorms” through Monday of NEXT WEEK! My biggest concern now is that my sweet plants will come up out of the ground and flow out of the squares and boxes and end up on the ground below…

“You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.” ~ Author Unknown

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Happy Saturday

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Good morning!

I’m feeling happy and grateful this morning.

We’re having a nice weekend weather-wise here in Greenwood, Arkansas. The highs will be in the 70’s and no rain until tomorrow evening (although it LOOKS like it could rain today). Because rain is forecast for every day from Sunday evening through Thursday next week, I’m trying to get as much accomplished in the yard as possible. Yesterday I planted tomato plants in one of the brick planters beside the house. The wind was gusting so hard I began to wonder if I was going to be able to plant!  I did finish, though, and will check on the plants again this morning.

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Things got busy around here, so an hour or so has passed.

The doggies demanded I take them out, so we walked all over the yard. We saw the veggie garden with its automatic watering –

 

 

 

 

we checked on the new tomato plants –

 

we took pictures, and played a bit while enjoying the really nice morning.

Just a few minutes ago my husband suggested we drive down to see if the mail had been delivered. We also took the “Rabbit and Easter Egg” mailbox decoration when we went, exchanging it for the leprechaun for St. Pat’s Day.

We drove down to the church at the end of the street to turn the truck around and met our good friend Carla, who was walking her two doggies, Nikki and Rubie. Thank goodness I still had a couple of dog treats in my pocket so we could greet them properly. (Carla said she didn’t care for one.) :0)

Today’s big project is filling the wheelbarrow with top soil and trying to fill up all the holes (or as many as I can find) that the moles, voles, and other ‘ole’s’ underneath the surface caused our doggies to dig to try to get them. We only actually saw one ‘victory’ so far. We’re not sure WHO got the ‘critter’ we found, but SOMEONE had given it a very hard time.  Anyway, between the underworld critters and ours, the yard almost looks like something from a bad horror movie. I’ll try to get them filled so that the rain can make the soil sink down and stay put, and then maybe we can mow without falling into a hole or twisting an ankle.

I hope your morning has been a fun one!

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Young Veggie Garden

Our spring raised bed square foot garden is off to a good start. We have six 4’x4’x8″ boxes at about my chest level in our vegetable garden. (We also have two brick planters on the other side of the house we use for our tomato plants.)

 

You can see the sprinklers and hoses that run over the top of the boxes on either side, making up the irrigation system. I added the timer a few days ago to the outdoor faucet, so the garden gets watered for 10 minutes each morning. There are drain holes in each box so that excess water runs out freely.  I’ve planted onion sets, iceberg head lettuce, romaine lettuce, broccoli, and spinach so far. I’ll plant some radishes later, plus bring out starts of celery from the house.

This year, except for the onion sets and radishes, I decided to only plant one plant in each square. There are only two of us eating salad in our household, so 4 lettuce plants to a square is too much for us to eat and the plants grow rapidly, crowding each other. I’m experimenting to see if this spread out version works better for us.

 

The spindly plants around this lettuce plant are onion sets. The tops of the onions don’t look great, but I’m hoping that the actual onions are doing well. I won’t know for a long time.

 

Here you can see broccoli in the foreground, a spinach plant in the middle, and lettuce toward the back.  I’m planning to start the tomato plants we bought very soon.

 

 

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Working on the Greenhouse

When we return from Lunch Bunch, my plan is to start actually getting my greenhouse more organized. These pictures are from when we just finished it, when all was clean, pristine, and the weed barrier on the floor was in one piece.

Over the months since we finished building it, I’ve transferred lots of things into it, just  moving things from our garage, the garden area, etc., so that it was at least in the greenhouse. I’ve been in and out on almost a daily basis, putting plants in there that I bought from one place or another and holding them until I could get them into the garden. A six-pack of tomatoes is in there now, but everything else has been planted in the raised bed square foot garden. I’m getting some good exercise because the only place we had to build the greenhouse is on the opposite side of our property from the shop and the garden.

Now is the time to at least start getting organized. I want to create an area for starting seeds. I want to consolidate a bunch of supplies, taking up as little table space as possible because I’ll need to bring more plants in when we demolish the two brick planters that have cracked, and in the future will want space for growing seeds, and staged growing plants as I try to get them ready to plant outside. I’ll have to be careful what I store on the floor under the tables on each side because water collects there when it rains. It’s exciting to finally start scheming and planning how I want things to work!

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The Spring Garden is Started!

I got my plants in this afternoon. This picture gives you an idea of where the garden is in relation to our shop.

 

We have six 4’x4’x8″ raised bed boxes in our garden. It is surrounded by fencing, with chicken wire also around the bottom. I’ll run some bright surveyor’s tape around the perimeter about chest high and also down each of the guy wires at the corners to warn critters that there is a structure here.

 

I’m planting fewer things this year, with wider spacing. I planted 12 broccoli plants, 12 romaine plants, 12 spinach plants, and 12 iceburg lettuce plants. I had already planted two bunches of onion sets. I have several empty squares. I’ll plant some radishes, plus celery transplanted from plants started in the house later.  I’m going to play with growing some gourds because my friend Kay brought some seeds to Lunch Bunch recently. :0) I also have a six pack of tomato plants still in the greenhouse. I’ll wait a couple of weeks to plant them.

 

Last year I  lost some produce because the plants got too large and crowded each other out in the squares. This year I’m only planting one plant per square (other than the onions) and we’ll see how that works.

 

In this picture you can see the line of trash cans along the back of the shop, plus the blue tarp, etc. The light gray trash cans are filled with the components of Mel’s Mix (peat moss, vermiculite, mushroom compost, barnyard compost, and cotton burr compost.) I have our personal composter toward the house. The darker gray trash cans hold supplies for planting.

I had some trouble with the end of one of the irrigation hoses being messed up. My good husband came out and replaced the messed up end of hose with a new end and then we could water the garden! We won’t put the system on a timer until we’re sure all chance of frost and  freezing are past.

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Taking the Plunge

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My husband goes outside when the weather forecasters tell him it’s raining in Greenwood – on the Lewis’ house – right now.  I have a bit more faith in their abilities, though we both realize that trying to forecast the weather is a complicated task. I just looked up the 10-day forecast for Greenwood on the net and see that today was the last forecast freeze through the 23rd. I’ve decided to go ahead and take the plunge, planting the veggies we are holding in the greenhouse.

 

Gardening Know How

I have iceburg lettuce, spinach, romaine, and broccoli plants, two six-packs of each.

I have my raised bed planters filled with Mel’s Mix and the string stretched across in two directions, creating the squares for planting. My planters are at about chest level so I can just walk up and plant things without having to bend over, get down on my knees or back up again.

I planted Texas Sweet Onion sets a couple of days ago. It’s such a pleasure! I’ll take pictures when I get the plants in. I’m excited to be starting a brand new spring crop!

I’ll watch the weather carefully, leaping up to put sheets over the plants if they say it’s going to get near freezing for the rest of the month.

 

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1st Planting Lesson of the Year

The Rusted Vegetable Garden

Well, shoot!

I was looking for a photo of onion sets and came upon their suggestion for giving your onions a good start when you plant them: Soak the sets in water for 15-30 minutes to make them easier to pull apart and prepare the roots for planting.

The sad part is that I planted yesterday and just found the photo and suggestion above today

I feel good. My husband and I mixed enough Mel’s Mix yesterday to finish topping off the two brick tomato planters on the east side of the house. All the veggie planters are now ready for planting. As I said, I planted the two onion sets we bought. I planted 4 in each of 30 squares in the raised bed square foot garden. I need to make markers now to stick in each of the planters, but the onions are in!

The forecast is for scattered showers during the day and heavier showers this evening, so hopefully they’ll get a good, thorough watering. We won’t hook up our irrigation system until all chance of frost is past, March 30th or so.

Monday I hope to get more plants. (I’m hoping to get spinach and broccoli). I’ll probably keep them in the greenhouse until it’s time to plant. I found a nice guide to planting today –

The plan this year is to grow fewer things, but try to do succession planting so that we have a longer harvest.

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Ready to Plant

This afternoon I stretched string across in two directions to create the ‘squares’ of the square foot garden in the six raised boxes. I’m now ready to plant! I’ll go get some onion sets because they can go into the garden directly. I also have some iceberg head lettuce plants, but I need to wait to plant them until all danger of frost is past.

Tomorrow I’ll mix up some more Mel’s Mix to top off the two brick planters on the other side of the house that we converted to square foot planters for our tomatoes. It’s supposed to be a beautiful day tomorrow, so I’m anxious to get this part finished before we get rain Saturday.

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Mel’s Mix – Day Two

This is a much grander version of what I’m going to be doing this afternoon, but it gives you the idea.

We were able to get the components of Mel’s Mix (a ground soil alternative made from 2 parts peat moss, 2 parts vermiculite, 1 part each as many different kinds of compost as you can find – I use mushroom, cotton burr, and barnyard, plus our own homemade, when we have it.)  Recently we tried the very used cement mixer we bought to mix the components together before putting them in our raised bed garden boxes. The mixer is GREAT. I’m using a small bucket, but I can mix TWO batches of Mel’s Mix in the mixer at one time, then dump some out into a plastic yard basket for transport to the garden and into a box.  Now that I know how to move the mixer up and down and what to expect, I can do this any time I would like. I love feeling empowered!

We added a bunch of Mel’s Mix to three of the six 4’x4’x8″ raised wooden boxes that make up our vegetable garden. I may need to add more, but I’ll decide that later. Today I’m concentrating on the rest of the boxes. Once I get the Mel’s Mix into the boxes, I’ll stretch string between nails on the edges of the boxes in both directions to create ‘squares’ for planting. (In square foot gardening, you plant different numbers of plants in the squares depending on the plant. (For broccoli and cauliflower, for example, you plant one plant in a square. For lettuce, you can plant 4 plants in a square. For radishes, you can plant 16…) You spread out the planting so that you’re not planting the same thing in two squares right next to each other. This cuts way down on any insects or disease.

I’m not going to even think about getting plants until the boxes are filled and the squares are marked and the irrigation system is set up. The first thing I’ll plant is onion sets. I may bring home other plants to put in my new greenhouse, even though it’s not organized yet.

I’m excited to start another year of raised bed square foot gardening. I learn a TON every year – mostly things NOT to do next time, so far :0) – and I have SUCH a good time watching things grow. I’ll post pics from time to time to share how things are going.

Have a wonderful day!

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A Good Monday

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We have had a wonderful Monday.

First thing this morning we filled up the back of the truck with another donation to Veteran’s Thrift Store.  We stopped at our veterinary clinic when we got to Greenwood to replenish our dog food supply, putting the bags in the back seat. We dropped off the donation, then drove back to the co-op in Greenwood, filling up the back of the truck with all we needed to replenish our supply of the components of Mel’s Mix for the garden except for one more bag of mushroom compost, which the nice man at the counter is ordering for us. It amazes me that the man remembers my name! He’ll call us when he has the bag we need in stock. We grabbed lunch at the deli at CVs on the way to the house.

After lunch my husband backed the truck to the garden (not a chore for the faint of heart) and we unloaded the back of the truck, opening the bags and filling up the trash bins behind the shop, beside the garden.) When we got back to the garage, we unloaded the dog food from the back seat and stored the two bags in the bin we keep for that purpose.

We’re going to go bowling with friends tonight. Since Amber has been in the back seat of the truck, we needed to vacuum the seats, getting rid of all the dog hair we can. It was my husband’s turn, so I left him doing that while I gathered trash in the house. We put the bowling balls in the trunk of the truck and I just put the bags of trash into the back so that we can leave them at the bottom of the driveway when we leave tonight to pick up our friends.

Even the weather is wonderful – sunny and 68 degrees right now.

I’m probably going to do some other things this afternoon, like the elliptical and my yoga, but the biggest thing will be to spread out under a throw in my recliner and take a good nap after our morning’s work. :0)

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Mel’s Mix 2.0

This is a picture of two of my six 4’x4’x8″ raised bed square foot garden boxes. We had an absolutely perfect day to work outside (sunny with a high of 68) so I threw my plans for the day up in the air and decided to start topping off the Mel’s Mix in the garden boxes in preparation for planting our spring garden.  (The mix settles during the winter. I can’t figure out where it ‘goes,’ but about half of the mix is gone.)  My husband came along to give me moral support – and to insult me while I learned how to use our new-to-us cement mixer. Our 91 pound puppy, Amber, came with us just because she likes to be with us and loves being outside.

Last year we bought the mixer, thinking it would help me get the components of Mel’s Mix combined better. (The components of Mel’s Mix are peat moss, vermiculite, and as many different kinds of compost as you can find. I use cotton burr, mushroom, and barnyard, with a bit of homemade thrown in. ) I used to dip out the components into a wheelbarrow, then use a shovel to mix it up as well as I could and then fight to get the wheelbarrow through the door of the garden fencing, shoveling out the Mel’s Mix into one of the boxes, scoop by scoop. It was a huge job.

 

My husband made a nice handle for moving the cement mixer around, if necessary, and we put the mixer behind the shop, next to the square foot garden, in the row of trash cans I use for all the Mel’s Mix stuff.  We put a tarp over the mixer and the long extension cord for it for the winter.

 

Today I put together one batch of Mel’s Mix, putting each measure into the cement mixer for the first time.  I saw that it would hold a lot more, so I added the components for a second batch. We plugged the mixer in and mixed the stuff for about 3 or 4 minutes. It was mixed SO much better than I could do with the shovel! We poured some of the mix into a large plastic yard basket with handles (about half full so I could lift it) and then I took it over and dumped it into a garden box.( It took 2 cement mixer loads to top off one of the raised bed boxes.) We kept mixing and dumping until we ran out of some of the components of the Mel’s Mix. (We topped off 3 of the boxes.)  Then, because my energy had run out before we used up the components, we went ahead and covered up the cement mixer again and put the tops on all the trash cans holding the compost, etc., before going to town.

The co-op apparently closes at noon on Saturday, so replenishing our supplies will have to wait until at least Monday. They usually don’t have the vermiculite I need and have to order it, but we’ll can get what we can and order the rest to pick up later in the week.

The mixer helps a LOT, but doesn’t make it so it isn’t really physical work for this old broad. It does a MUCH better job of mixing the components. I now know how to move the mixer bowl up and down, so I’ll be able to do that now any time I want to.

We finished enough garden boxes so that if we find good onion sets at the co-op Monday, I can go ahead and get them. We already have some string for marking the garden ‘squares’ that will weather being out in the sun better than the stretchy nylon string we used last year. (That was nice to use, but deteriorated quickly.)

The season is almost starting – at least for onions! I’m determined to get the beds ready for planting BEFORE I actually get the plants this year. Trying to do the prep AND the planting in one day is too much!

After eating some late lunch mid afternoon, this lady crashed in her recliner…

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