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Just wanted to post an update about the container garden here in Afghanistan. I lost a couple of seedlings to hard rain and wind - it's quite different trying to garden here at a higher altitude. So I planted a few radishes to make myself feel better and this time when I put seedlings in, I cut a plastic water bottle in half and put it over the top of the seedling. I can still pour water in the top of it. I hope this will work.
And the peas, well, most of them died. I realized that I didn't grow them close enough to the trellis to train them to start growing early. Planted some new ones. This will be my third attempt.
Never planted carrots, beets, peas or green beans before, but those are the seeds I have so I hope they'll be okay.
I also ordered a Bokashi rapid compost container and it's full. Can't wait to see what that brings in a couple of weeks! I haven't given up hope for a community garden here on the Forward Operating Base (FOB). Some people have been pessimistic about it saying that the Afghans might use this opportunity to attack Americans. It's sad... we have so many Afghans working on the FOB and yes, it's risky but I really hope the garden brings people together. There was a big vehicle bombing here last year and both Americans and Afghans were wounded. I really wanted to create the garden and dedicate it to those that died.
I accidentally ordered way too many Aerogardens off of Ebay - 6 of them, to be exact. What's great about Aerogardens, is that I can start all my seeds in them and the lights are way better than what I was using. The PX here doesn't offer a lot of variety in anything, much less light bulbs. These Aerogarden grow lights won't make them all leggy. I still can't get my tomatoes to look as nice as some of my fellow community gardeners back home do. I don't know what their secret is!
Got soil test kits in the mail today and I'll be testing the soil in the boxes tomorrow. If I can get around to it, I'll post some photos soon.
I miss Virginia so much. I miss my garden plot and all the friendly smiles - the community of our little patch of heaven in the city. I miss the fireflies, too. I remember they made the gardens seem like an enchanted meadow in a forest at night...
Originally written 11 May 2013.
Been transplanting my beans, think I have left them too long, some have become a bit rootbound! Ah its all experience though! Gently untangled as much as I can, decided to plant them into Big pots and bring them inside as to give them a bit of TLC - whether has not been on my side much lately, giving them releave from the wind - hopefully they will be ok, over the next few days I will be creating their new home outside. Fingers crossed they will be ok!
Also had the hard task of turing my compost heap! OMG was that hard work, very happy with its progress though. Already have some ready for use which is excellent, I can use it for when I plant out my Beans, Tomatoes and cucumbers over the reast of the bank holiday. Going to bribe my brother to come help me :-P
just finished reorganizing the sun room where the puppies are currently wreaking havoc. We are taking them to the shelter tomorrow because they are weaned and we can't keep them all here (6 puppies is a handful!) We are also getting Hazel fixed so this doesn't happen again; there are enough homeless dogs without us contributing liter after liter.
Rummaging around on the property I have turned up two 'new' racks to use for storage and surface area in the sun room:
I counted it up and we will be growing approximately 510 seedings, the majority of which are flowers, then herbs, and with a few vegetables. I am direct sowing most of my vegetables, but I wanted to have some seeds started early so when the weather and soil are ready and I put some plants out and not feel like I am just watering my dirt. I am not very good at telling seedlings from weed sprouts most of the time, so transplants will be a good idea.
I filled more of the bath bed with dirt from the new compost hole so now it is half way full:
I decided to take a before picture of where the main area of the vegetable garden is going to be:
Instead of tilling up a big rectangle and planting everything in rows we are going to do seperate raised beds (raised just a little bit, and if we can get enough rocks, the beds will all be edged in river stone)
We have done a lot of work on the BBQ shed, but it is still not finished yet. Here are some before and after pics:
the gate is still up, but we have taken down the northern wall and removed the crossbeams from the inside wall. I want to take down the pieces of 2x4 that are still attached to the support beams, take the gate off entirely, rake the ground flat inside the shed, and hang the swing. All the scrap wood needs gathered up, and there are nails and screws lying around everywhere, but it is coming along nicely. Our eventual vision for the BBQ shed will be to pave the area in flag stones and have tiki torches, garden lights, and lots of seating. We will stack the fire wood for the BBQ pit against the back wall so it is partially protected from the elements.
I am trying an interesting idea for bean teepees, using the tops of sumac trees that we have torn up (sumac is very invasive here) and this is what they look like:
I cut each of the branches to the same length so they will sit evenly and I am going to make a plumbob weight to hang from the center of each one to keep them grounded in case of high winds. Now I only need 13 more teepees. We will be planting five teepees each of three green bean varieties. Luckily there is a lot of sumac to tear up where the melon and pumpkin patches will be.
The finished compost hole is rotting nicely and I am doing much better at remembering to turn it each day.
hopefully we will have lots of useable compost for the spring between the two holes and the pile.
Goals for tomorrow: finish filling the bath bed with dirt and make more teepees. we are also might get more rocks while we are in town.
I have been doing some fall clean-up the past couple of days. We have been blessed with bright and sunny days lately. I put hubby's saws all to good use in the back yard and did some raking. I also discovered recently that our local Old Time Pottery Store started carrying bagged soils. I was able to get quite a haul for very little $. I used equal parts mushroom compost, cow manure and shredded mulch to top dress the beds today:
I had a great little helper too!
en the leaves are done falling and have all been raked into the beds, I will sprinkle a layer of pine straw over the whole thing. This should give the garden a good start next spring.
This morning, I placed an order online for a Tibetan Cherry. I have always wanted one of those. I am going to start it in a pot as I purchased a little guy. Maybe mine will look like this some day...
e are enjoying the fall color in the yard
Coral Bark Maple:
Happy Gardening Weekend!
I've been feeling the urge to garden for some time now, but a recent visit to my cousin's ranch in the middle of nowhere finally lit a fire under my butt. So I'm cleaning out my tiny urban patio, I've started a tiny compost pile in a six-quart bucket, and I've started a few tiny spinach and parsley seeds in tiny toilet paper containers.
My patio is 8' x 14'. There's a little patch of earth at one end -- about 7' x 3' -- and the rest is concrete. I figure I'll build a couple of raised beds and have containers for the rest of the stuff I'll grow. My mother splits her time between me and my brother, but I have some of her plants here: an orchid, an amaryllis, and a gardenia. They're on the front porch, though; the patio will be my kitchen garden. I'm clearing out some junk first, and then I'll empty the containers that have remnants of previous gardening attempts in them.
I live in Southern California, so I'm using Long Beach Organic as a local resource, but its focus is on community gardening. The nearest community garden that I know of is a few miles away, so I'm just going to work on my own tiny patio for now. I also stole borrowed an issue of Wired magazine from June 2010 that talks about Urban Terraforming. The phrase sounds awfully pretentious to me, but it's worth looking at for ideas. I don't have enough room for chickens, fish, or bees in my tiny patio, but I should be able to attract some helpful critters once I get underway.
I have an unfortunate habit of losing interest in projects before I'm halfway through, so I don't want to commit to anything huge at the moment, even when it's as good an idea as this.
I'm knee deep in compost today - figuratively speaking of course. I had no idea there were so many types of compost containers, accessories or processes. I come from a long history of manure. When you own several horses and help out at the barn there is always old manure at the bottom of the pile that is terrific for fertilizer. In my effort to learn all I can before designing and planting my very first garden on a larger scale I find myself confused with this basic subject.
I think,as I continue my research that I just may resort to that which I know best......Horse ++++!
See my blog about compost called Knee Deep in Manure at www.susanrstoltz.com
I only did four things:
· Added Compost
· Broke up the Clay
· Rich Earth
Compost. I keep a little bin hidden in my
bushes, a small one. If you have more space a larger compost bin is
better. I aerate and water the contents once a week. When I
have good compost (looks like dark soil, it takes about three to six months) I
lightly sprinkle some on the lawn, work it in with the back of a rack to break
it up, and then I water it in. This replenishes the soil and
reinvigorates the nutrients my lawn needs. I throw out a heckuva lot
less garbage now, too. The idea is to build up the soil beneath your lawn,
watering it in allows it to works its way down to the roots. I also take
a lot of old coffee grounds, banana peels, old fruits, things I would normally
compost and put it in a blender, mix it with a lot of water and put it directly
onto the lawn and then water it in. This allows the ‘composting
material’ to go directly through to the roots. A little thought to this:
if you have clay soil you don’t have earthworms. Earthworms don’t
eat banana peels, fruit, etc… they actually eat the microbes that are
consuming the old fruits. But, the idea is to feed the earthworms who
aerate the soil, working their way through the top five feet or so. Do
this enough and ALL the clay will turn into great soil. If you want
your lawn to get another shot in the arm, put a bunch of leaves into a blender
with a lot of water, blend it and throw that into the soil (shhh, don’t
tell my wife). Old leaves are rich with bacteria that worms love…
Believe it or not but paper works well also, but only in moderation (it looks
unsightly on the lawn), most of my paper I shred and put into my compost pile (not
glossy paper, no plastic and no aluminum foil, etc). Corn cobs blend up
nicely but don’t do well in a compost heap. Oh yeah, compost
I bought some stuff called Aerify at (note the coupon on the front page, saves 10%). If you want to buy Aerify plus that’s okay, but check out my next tip. Aerify is actually a surfactant, which allows the clay to be separated by the roots of the plants and allows water to penetrate the soil. There are some plants, like Russian Comfrey (there is even one cultivar which is not invasive) that breaks apart clay or you could till the soil (I strongly recommended against it), but why not use common sense and have the lawn do the work for you? This stuff looks a lot like detergent because it basically is, especially when it seems to put a foam on top of the lawn. I sprayed it on two successive weekends and then watered it in. The second time there was a noticeable improvement in drainage, it appears to be working. I’m going to continue monthly and help the roots of the lawn to penetrate the clay. By adding compost on top, perhaps a little gypsum and some lime, this will allow the clay to naturally break apart. NOT expensive @ $27.
A few years ago I was in the Colonial Williamsburg, VA area and bought a bag of
Rich Earth for my herbs. I forgot about it, using conventional
fertilizers instead. The results were less than outstanding, my herbs –
survived. I tried watering less, watering more, but my herbs looked
spindly. I recently found my small bag of Rich Earth and put some on top
of the soil around the herbs and watered them as normal. Within 24 hours
there was a noticeable improvement and 48 hours later I was shocked to see new
growth, leaves turning dark green and now that I’ve used it awhile my
plants look like they are professionally grown. So I thought if it’s
worked miracles for my herbs, why not my lawn? I went and I bought 50
pounds, two 25 pound bags to fit into the saddlebags of my motorcycle, and
spread half of one bag over my front lawn. The results are
incredible. Dark green grass, it’s thick, it’s almost unreal
the rapid turnaround in the lawn. This Rich Earth somehow gave the grass
a boost and a half. Rich Earth is REALLY good because it contains humates.
Basically when prehistoric plant life died it got covered up and the layers of
earth on top compressed it. Eventually it turns to coal. Anywhere you
have a coal deposit the humates rise to the top (yeah, I know, I’m going
up to Pennsylvania and see if I can get some free stuff). But consider
this compost that contains trace elements that commercial fertilizers lack, like
eating candy – you get a rush of energy but there’s no substance
like real food, so your body crashes quickly. Bottom line, this Rich Earth
is a miracle additive for my plants. I’ve already had neighbors ask
me what in the heck I’ve done to my lawn. I went to a local feed
store and spent less than $50 but I could have gotten by with one 25 pound bag.
Well, on second thought, I gave a few pounds to a neighbor who tried it and
absolutely loves the stuff. My wife is raving to her coworkers, they’re
getting samples, too. I raise herbs for my wife’s cooking indoors
in the winter so I’m going to try it then. They’re starting
to stock Rich Earth at a lot of local Whole Foods stores as well. I
will never use commercial fertilizer again. Period. Rich earth is
I bought Kentucky Bluegrass , a very fine seed, and spread it on top of my lawn. I had heard of reseeding for years but it didn’t make sense when I already had a lawn. But all the professionals reseed. What I discovered was the new seed is using the old lawn, the compost and the soil beneath (really not much since I resodded a few years ago I saw how little topsoil they put beneath the sod) and the new grass grows in between, even edging out the weeds. I used a tiny hand spreader to make sure the seed was evenly distributed, hand sowing tends to put thick bands on the ground. I bought my hand spreader for just a few dollars and it’s been great. I threw a little compost on top to cover it up as well as a little topsoil, I broke it up with the back of a rake and it settled in nicely. I waited two weeks and reseeded any bare spots again (and more compost, rich earth and top soil). Grass seed is expensive, but the better stuff is worth it, I spent about $30 on seed.
I cannot adequately describe how thick my lawn is now. I took before pictures, I should have after pictures in a week or two (as soon as the second set of reseeding takes off). Honestly, I didn’t expect the lawn to turn around this dramatically; I’ve had neighbors stop by twice in the past week, asking my secret.
I'm trying to make the best mulch mix for flowers and shrubs. Because I found a couple worms and put them in my bin. I need to find out how deep the compost should be for the worms to lay their eggs.
I need any suggestions, I'm all ears, thanks.
Finally! A nice sunny morning - temperatures still a little below normal, but promising, nevertheless. Unfortunately, I have no time to indulge in my favourite sport - gardening.
It's garbage/compost/recycling day here. I need to dump some tired goods from my fridge into the compost pick-up bin; ensure that I've rid the house of unwanted recyclables - newspapers, cardboard cartons, box board, along with the stuff I put into the bin every day; and lug all containers to the curb. I'm committed to the program, but that doesn't make it any easier.
I need to take my van to a nearby town for an emissions test so that I can get a new sticker for my licence plate before the current one expires. While there, I want to purchase some strawberry roots to fill in some bare spots in our newly transplanted (last fall) patch. I'll meet my youngest daughter and we'll go together to the garden centre where we'll both purchase other plants as well. Neither of us needs more plants, but the "I wants" will set in.
Just time enough to get home and prepare a cold supper for my husband, before heading off to a council meeting scheduled for 6:00. If I'm not there by 5:20, I'll have to stand through what promises to be a very long meeting. Along with a large segment of our community, I'm opposing the rezoning of property adjacent to one of the largest wetland preserves in Ontario and the headwaters of a major river for the purpose of storing explosives used in the mining industry. I'm not opposed to the operation, per se, but to its location. A spill of ammonium nitrate could contaminate the marsh, the river and various aquifers necessary to clean drinking water throughout southern Ontario. I can't believe that the local, provincial and federal governments have even considered allowing it to operate in its current location, but each agency seems to pass the buck to the next. Duh!! I'm afraid it's a case of one agency being afraid to step on the toes of another. In the meantime, each of them has lost sight of what is critical to our environment. No decision will be made this evening, but I'll likely rant on about this in future.
I'm heading up to visit with my mom early tomorrow morning, so you won't have to read about my frustrations with the process until later in the week. I'll try to appease you by taking and posting those photos of the fresh greens of the near north on my journey.
I don't understand it entirely, but I'm a hurtin' piece of business this evening. Every muscle seems to be aching. I turned a lot more of my flower bed, but I've been doing that for a couple of days now. I have to admit I haven't been sleeping well, but that happens frequently, unfortunately. Gonna try to hit he sack early this evening after a long, hot bath and a drink of milk. I'll snuggle in with a good book. Hopefully, that will resolve my achiness.
After digging in that clay for a couple of days, it amazes me that earthworms can manage to make their way through the stuff. But, sure enough, there were lots. I managed to finish enlarging that flower bed, then amended the soil with compost. Would have liked to add some sand, but didn't have a convenient source and wanted to get the bed finished. Planted a white astilbe and a few assorted fresias (haven't had any luck with them in the past, but hope springs eternal), then overseeded with snapdragons and candy tuft. I'll be seaching eagerly for any sign of new life every time I pass that bed. I think it'll be pretty if it comes to fruition.
I forgot to mention that I took a dozen or so tomato plants that had gotten very large out of my mini greenhouse on Monday. I guess they didn't like exiting their nice, warm, humid home, because they looked like they were ready to collapse. Poor babies! They have since recovered and are looking happy and sturdy once again. I won't be able to plant them in their permanent home for almost a month. Even then, there's a full moon scheduled about the 6th of June and I may have to cover them in case of frost.
Well, I have some research to do regarding a planning issue within our township, then I'm going to have that bubble bath.
Today I was able to hand turn some more of the garden and mix in Oma-Gro® compost while I was at it. The soil seem nice and loose, well as loose as clay can get. Garden size is 10 x 20 and I turned 20 x 3 along the back edge and two 6 x 3 patches on either end. Also added some compost to the Asparagus that I planted last year. I under estimated the number of bags of compost it would take to cover my garden. Good thing the garden center is only 4 blocks away. I will try and turn some more tomorrow if the weather holds out, if not it may be a couple of weeks when it is dry enough again. They are calling for severe weather over the next four days.
Today I planted a few things:
• Early Scarlet Globe Radishes
• Sparkler Radishes
• 1st Edition Yellow Onion sets
• Sugar Snap Peas
Tomorrow I plan to plant the lettuces, and transplant the herbs and tomatoes into bigger pots. I bought some general miracle grow fertilizer for the house plants and will use a weak solution on the seedlings. I also want to start the cucumbers and squash inside. I need to dig through all of my seeds to see what else needs to be started.
So with collards and peppers and things Mom whipped up a really awesome couple of dishes. The first was the collards. As we did not have a pot worth of collards Mom just brought some of our favorite ingredients together and out came some YUMMY!!
a bunch of collards
1/2 lb bacon
1 med yellow onion
coarse ground black pepper to taste (we like our stuff peppery)
1-2 cloves of garlic(your preference, of course)
Simply cut bacon into 1 in bits fry them up. When bacon is done (or close) drain the grease and save a little (2 tbls.) to fry with the onions,pepper, and garlic. Fry those up for a few min. (onions become caramelized) then add the greens and stir. The greens don't need much cooking so you can probably let it cook for another 5 min. (give or take) or until wilted). This is a quick throw together side dish that is big on taste, thanks Mom!!!
Fried Potatoes with Greens
3 large potatoes, cleaned and cubed
1 large Spanish onion, thinly sliced
1 head of garlic and 1 Thai pepper, chopped in food processor together
3 slices of bacon
2 Tablespoons of butter
1 handful of collard green leaves
a few pods of okra, sliced
Salt and pepper
Cut up the bacon into small pieces, pepper them, and cook them in a large frying pan until they are crisp
reserve 2 Tablespoons of the bacon grease in the pan
add the 2 Tablespoons of butter to the pans
salt and pepper the potatoes and onions then add them to the pan.
let them cook for 3 or 4 minutes on one side until they are browned.
turn them and add the garlic/pepper mixture
reduce the heat, put a lid on the pan and let them cook a few more minutes
when they are almost fork tender add the okra and cook for 1 additional minute.
turn the heat down again and add the greens
salt the greens, put the lid back on the pan.,when the greens are wilted the dish is finished
This was another of her very tasty recipes, we had it with grilled blackened salmon and veggie kabobs, can you say D-Lish??? We are getting ready for some severe weather (link below) Fay is in the Dominican Republic causing havoc. So better to be prepared that caught un- prepared that is =)
The garden got bigger today Dad, Mom , Z-Man , and G cleared out our fire pile and Mom planted some buckwheat in prep for spring. It will be a great spot.!!!
On a sad note the beautiful butterfly you see on my avatar has died. G found it while cleaning up by the compost bins. It always seems so sad when I see a dead butterfly, especially one I had just photographed not many days ago. He has it saved in his collection of "stuff".
Hope you give the recipes a try, and if you live in Fl. or Ga. stay safe and dry.
I actually felt inspired turning my compost pile yesterday. It felt good to be doing some honest hard work in the yard again. I was going to post this in the Cheezy Poetry forum, but the subject wasn't compost, and to be honest, I was feeling selfish today so I'm posting it on my blog instead. I hope you enjoy it.
The day is warm, still young and bright.
I'm out of work while still daylight!
I rush back home to check my bin
and see what sort of shape it's in.
I grab my fork and lift the lid
To see what time and hard work did.
I've thrown in leaves, and grass and twigs
Veggie peels and rotten figs.
There's no bad smell, so that is good.
But I still see leaves and bits of wood.
It's not done, oh no, not yet.
It will be soon, on that I'd bet.
So I start digging through the pile.
I know that this will take a while.
There's lot's of stuff, at least a ton.
It's a good thing I think this is fun.
Otherwise this would just be work
To be avoided or to shirk.
But it's good exercise for me,
And the compost that I get is free!
I plunge my fork into the leaves;
I shift my grip and then I heave!
What comes out just can't be beat:
Four tines full of hoary heat!
Actinomycetes makes the scene:
Bacteria that's white, not green.
It's filamentous fibers grow
through every leaf and blade I've mowed.
This thermophilic power play
By this bacteria night and day
Drives up the inner temperature
To kill bad things just like Pasteur.
Lifting here and tossing there
The compost sailing through the air
From full bin 1 to empty 2
Mixes oxygen all through.
This helps wee beasties to respire
and build more heat in my dark fire.
They work alchemically even faster
to make soil like an earth spellcaster.
After 30 minutes muscles hurt
from turning waste into new dirt.
So I decide to pack it in
and cover up my compost bin.
One more week and compost's done
Then I can shoot the starting gun
And get my veggies all to race
To be the first into my face.
I prepared the veggie bed. I must've added about 6 inches of compost to it! I hope the 2 (haha) tomatoes I planted will be happy. I am planning on adding peppers and various herbs. Maybe I'll plant the lavender seeds my mom got me in there too- it's a raised bed so it should get plenty of drainage.
I still need to turn my other compost pile and add a bunch of "green" to it. Not a whole lot of fun without a pitchfork. I just don't want to spend $20- $30 for one!!
Some of the sweet pea seeds I planted about 4 days ago have sprouted! (dance of joy)
I took a bunch of photos the last few days. Now I just need to get DH off of the PS3 so he can offload them. Hopefully I'll have them posted tonight *fingers crossed*
I was going to post this in the compost thread, but it was a pretty long so I'm putting it in my blog instead.
So, I had off from work on Monday. It's Patriots Day here in Massachusetts, the hub of the American Revolution, and many years ago they made it a state holiday. There are lots of flags flying, lots of wearing of red, white and blue, and the running of the Boston Marathon where people from all over the world descend upon the state and run themselves into the ground.
Me? I decided to celebrate working in my victory garden and starting a new spring compost pile. But I had a problem. All I had was brown stuff. Being spring, I didn't have a bunch of fully grown, recently harvested, green stems and such. I only had all of the brown leaves and spent grass I raked from around the yard and under the grape vines. So what do I do? I could just make the pile with just the brown stuff, but it would never heat up respectably and it would take too long to break down. (I like my women like I like my compost piles - tall and hot. Sorry, I couldn't resist throwing that in.) I'm going to need this stuff in like a month when my young plants start taking off. I had to get some green stuff, or the equivalent of green stuff, i.e., I needed a source of nitrogen.
Off to Agway!
around I found some likely candidates - blood meal - this stuff is a
great source of nitrogen, about 40% by weight, but it was a little
pricey. I had used it in the past with good success. This was a
possibility, but I wanted to see what else I could find.
Next, I found cottonseed meal. This wasn't as high in nitrogen as the blood meal, but still respectable. I had also used this to good effect. Plus, it was plant based, which I liked. The only problem here was that they only had the 25 pound bag for $27.00. Moving on.......
This was when the Agway employee asked me if I needed any help. They're like that there. (No, I don't work for Agway, smarta$$!) I told him my dilemma - I need a nitrogen source and I don't want to spend a lot of money. Voila! He shows me Urea. It's made by Espoma, it's organic, it's 45% nitrogen, and it's only $10.00 for a 5 pound bag. Sold!
With a few thank yous
exchanged I take my compost supercharger back home and dutifully build
my yard-waste lasagna by layers - brown leaves, water, sprinkle a
handful or two of urea, a couple shovel-fulls of almost-finished
compost. Repeated 5-10 times. Pop the cover on it and bake in the sun
for 24 hours. Yummo!
I get satisfaction out of doing things well, and this includes making a good compost pile. Today, I get out of work and dash home to check on it. I grab my turning fork and start turning it over. And yep, I can feel that heat starting already! But then, I notice the smell. It's unpleasant, but not overwhelming. And there is the definite twang of ammonia. Darn it, I put in too much urea! The wee little beasties have too much nitrogen and can't metabolize it all and are just releasing it as ammonia. The ammonia smell was weak, and I didn't see any of the urea pellets in the pile, so I'm hoping that this is as bad it will get. I'm going to need to turn it every day or two until the smell goes away.
Anyway, lesson learned. In the future, a half of a handful of urea per layer will probably suffice when using it in place of the green garden scraps in a compost pile.
If I had thought about it, this would have made a good video clip as part of my compost series - "Choosing of the green! Sources of nitrogen to get your compost pile fired up."
FINALLY! The planets have aligned and I found myself with both the time and warm enough weather to get outside and DO something in the yard. I managed to turn my compost piles, adding in quite a bit of stuff that had been stacking up on the deck, waiting for an opportunity to add to the mix!
I pruned my grape vines(3). I think I finally have a plan for them beyond "let them ramble unchecked and grow tendrils into the shingles". one will grow to the left of the front door under the picture window. One will grow right. And one will grow around the corner of the house, trained down the railing on the steps to the deck. Let's see if the vines understood that, too.
One thorn in the back of my mind, however is that I saw a GROUNDHOG while I was out there. He visited me once last spring and took out about a half dozen of my pole beans. But from what I've heard about these great white garden sharks I think I got off easy. I'm thinking he's going to be a bigger problem this year, given that he's apparently only mildly intimidated by me as it is. When he saw me he seemed to take his time moseying away. And I'm not sure, but I think he flipped me the bird when I turned around. I'm going to start lifting weights and stop shaving to show him I'm not a dude to mess with.
Update on plants (roll Taps). The olives and the pomegranates died - all of them. I don't know why. Maybe I overwatered, watered too much with the water from the frog's aquarium, left the grow light on too long, didn't transplant them in time (I think it was this actually), didn't water them enough, let them get too hot near the air register, etc. Anyway, I have more seeds. I managed to save two of the longan berry plants (I think, the jury is still out .)
My Black Magic elephant ear has spider mites. I'm hoping I can keep him just long enough to get him outside and then I know he'll be fine.
Hope springs eternal!
Props to my new friends stereoman and brown thumb! Loved the emails, pictures and blogs!
Here's something to noodle on, why is getting dirty fun, but staying dirty is gross. Weird.
See you all in bed, garden bed that is. ;-)
Thanks to some help from the forums I am running two compost beds. I feel like I am well on my way to healthy dirt - Hopefully eating 30 bags of leaves per year instead of bagging and sending them to the landfill.
I can tell it is composting as I try to turn it with all the wrong tools. I have a sharpshooter shovel, a traditional shovel, and a right angle pitchfork. The sharpshooter is made for trenching. It turns out to be quite handy for digging a deep, narrow hole to dump more wets/greens down lower so that they don't smell. The right angle fork is semi-handy for rolling stuff around. But today I got a novel idea while in a Big Lots surplus/cheap-crap store. I was looking for a real pitchfork on the cheap. Alas, they had none.
Instead, I bought a $9 hand tiller which looks like a 4 ft tall T-handle (about 16 inches across the "T") with 5 spikes on the end in a semi-square pattern (picture the "5" side on a single dice (die?)). I jab that sucker as low as I can get and start twisting back and forth while applying pressure to sink it to the bottom. It rolls in oxygen and makes for a handy turn-in-place tool if you let it roll up 30 degrees - or even to the top of the pile as you keep twisting. This rolls more lateral material around instead of a straight vertical chute.
Disclaimer: This is not as easy as falling off a ladder. I've apparently got some masochistic tendencies as I opt for hand tools many times and I do not shy away from elbow grease. I'm one part stubborn, one part cheap, and 2 parts lazy desk marshmallow. I determined that extra sweat will probably be the only thing between me and a Cheetoh-lined early grave. At least that is how I enable my inner cheapskate. We're codependent in the same body.
I will post pictures at some point of the tool in action.