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the long vegetable bed I had been working on is now completely dug, top dressed, edged with rocks and has a layer of landscaping fabric over it.
now, I love that the weed barrier landscape fabric is black; I figure it will help warm the soil up and keep weeds down etc etc. However, I watered the bed with the hose before heading inside today and the water just seemed to run right off of it. I foresee this becoming a problem. What are yalls experiences with weed barrier fabric? I suspect it might be that it is still fresh out of the package and needs to be exposed to the elements a bit before it becomes more water permeable, but I wanted to know what yall think.
So many beautiful days! I am pinching pennies to save enough to make a few large seed orders :)
It is that time of year again. The clay we call dirt here has dried out enough to dig beds again, those small purple 4-lobed flowers with orange throats 9I have no idea what they are!) are popping up everywhere, daffodils are bouncing their heads in the wind, and I have spotted the first dandelions. Spring, my friends, is coming up quick and I could not be more pleased.
It has been almost 5 months since I last updated, so where to begin? I already have some peas growing that I had pre-germinated in the house then planted outside; most of them are about three inches tall now and I am germinating another batch (I learned last year the value of succession planting) We have rabbits now in a hutch in the bbq shed. The two rabbits we currently have are our roomate's pets, but they are elderly and the agreement is when they pass away we are going to start raising meat rabbits. If that doesn't work out we are going to try raising angora rabbits. If raising meat rabbits does work out, we are also going to try to raise angora rabbits.
there are ambitions of grandeur this year; we are going to focus some of our efforts on selling at farmer's markets, either the one in Madison, AL or Chattanooga, TN. The one in Madison is closer, but if we don't do well there then we will try out Chattanooga because we will also be able to display our handmade jewelry there. I already have all the baskets and everything that we will need for displaying vegetables and fresh produce, now all there is to do is grow the stuff!
All else is well in my part of the world; it was a very mild winter in the Tennessee Valley and I think this coming fall I am going to try to grow peas, carrots, lettuces, broccoli, and cauliflower under row covers or in hoop houses to see if I can manage gardening through the winter.
I hope all of you have been doing well, and happy digging!!!
Today was a beautiful day and I spent the majority of it ouside playing in the garden. The most progress was made in the longest bed; it hasn't been to difficult to double dig because the top 10" is very nice from where I prepared it last year. Below that, however, is dense clay full of old tree roots from where the fruit trees used to be.
Here is an example of how we have been double digging:
In this picture I had dug down one shovel depth and moved that topsoil to where I had previously dug then I dug down again another shovel depth into the clay and put that on top of what I had previously dug. (I hope I explained that clearly) I then put some of last years leaves and grass clippings into where I had just dug and I step back about 3 feet and start the process again. I have also been top dressing with leaf mold and grass clippings as I go to keep the soil from drying out and erroding.
To put into perspective how much more there is to do in this bed:
way down in the shady part is where I have dug to.
and this is the end that is more or less finished (in the previous picture I was standing next to the green chair in the distance) The method of double digging is a lot of work and uses a lot of compost but I think it is going to be so worth it in the long run.
To demonstrate the huge amounts of compost that have gone into the two beds I have double dug so far, here is a picture of what the pile looks like now:
You can see in the brown area where there used to be compost that had been piled almost as high as the fence. That little bit that is left is all there is now, though, so we are growing the yard grass tall to cut and rake as hay for composting and if anything we will wait until the leaves fall and rake and use those for adding to the double dug beds. I never though, with as big as that pile was, that I would be at risk of running out of compost.
As a progress report on my garden, the hostas look lonely in the shade garden behind the shed:
and some of my zinnias are sick:
I posted to the forums about it; some kind of bacteria or something. Any ideas? My other zinnias are beginning to be infected as well, as you can see in this picture of a different bed :)
I am going to try planting some carrots in a rubbermade bin full of composted dirt, The tote had holes in it and has bulky twigs an stuff in the bottom to keep the compost from clogging up the drainage holes. I haven't actually planted the seeds yet, but this is the tote so far:
I have it positioned next to the bbq shed so that if the weather gets bad I can drag it under the overhang to keep the soil from compacting.
In preparation for next year I am planning a fence and arbor to keep the dogs from running straight into the garden and tromping on everything. Zee still loves getting into pictures:
So I tried again: Here are two views I made in paint to depict how I want the arbor and fence to be:
The brown lines indicate where the edge of the garden bed will be and the black lines are structral; either fence or arbor. I will be digging up and dividing all the iris bulbs and next year this will be a perennial and herb bed that will be protected by the fence, made from yardgard fencing. The arbor will be made out of the similar material and the frame of the arbor will be constructed like this:
These designs are from the book Great Garden Companions by Sally Jean Cummingham. I am going to use these same designs, modified, to make the portable chicken hoop coop. I am going to begin working on detailed plans on what I will be planting in the perennial bed. I would like to plant loofa gourds on the fence and moon flowers on the arbor.
First things first there was a GIANT brown recluse in the bath room the other day; good thing I had just done my business otherwise seeing this thing would have scared it right out of me:
WHEW!!! My sweet darling of a he-man saved me from it with a big stick and while I watched in terror he really had to put some force behind it to smush this guy (I would like to point out that I am not typically scared of insects, but honestly; with a poisonous spider this big hanging out in the bathroom, who wouldn't be scared?)
Today we finished double digging the new tomato bed that is approzimately 33 feet long and 5 feet wide. We dug two feet down, churning up the subsoil, breaking up the dense clay we are blessed with, and mixing in leaf mold, compost, and grass clippings. We then top dressed it with a similar mixture in an effort to keep weeds down, prevent errosion, and to keep the soil from getting hammered by the rain and baked into a crust.
This bed will be home to 27 tomatoes (only 9 cages are pictured above) that will be companion planted with carrots all around the edge of the bed, basil in the nooks bewteen the cages, and a mix of nasturtiums, marigolds, borage, and tansy planted at the base of the tomato plants.
A quick review on the tomatoes we grew this year:
Amish paste; had three plants, purchased seed in 2011 from Burpee. These guys were ok; initially they had blossom end rot, and then later some of the fruits were deformed, but the ones that came off the plant that weren't rotten or deformed were very good; lived up to the description from the seller. In 2012 I plan on giving this variety another try, but only with one plant.
Brandywine:three plants, seed purchased in 2011 from Park Seeds I always recognized this variety as a standard, but mine didn't grow over three feet tall and I got maybe two or three small fruits off the three plants. I am giving this variety another try next year with just one plant.
Yellow Pear: three plants, purchased seed in 2011 from Burpee. These guys are still producing, even after all the other tomatoes have given up from the drought. I have gotten so many beautiful little yellow pear shaped cherry tomatoes from these three plants that I think I am going to make them a staple Tomato Row. Growing three plants again next year.
Big Rainbow: three plants, purchased seed in 2011 from Park Seeds. I was not impressed with the color verigation on these tomatoes and they have suffered from pest and pestilence all year; mostly stink bugs sucking on them and blossom end rot. Making a note to add ground egg shells to the new bed this fall and again in the spring to try to prevent blossom end rot. The tomatoes that I did get off the three plants, though, did taste good and were nice on sandwiches, even though the fruits were small (2-3 inches in diameter) Very meaty, though, with few seeds. Trying again next year with one plant.
Gardeners Delight: three plants, purcahsed seed in 2011 from burpee. These cherries were very sweet and, while not as prolific as the yellow pear, they were still pretty good. Will try again next year with just one plant.
For 2012 the varieties lined up are: (two plants of each, purchasing seed from Seed Savers Exchange)
Brown Berry: A brownish red cherry tomato
Cherokee Purple: A purple and red bi-color big ol' mater that is popular in this part of the Tennessee valley. Figured i would give it a try.
Gold Medal: I am trying this variety in place of Big rainbow, hoping to find a red and yellow bicolor that pleases me.
Hungarian Heart: a big, pink, oxheart tomato that is good for processing and fresh eating.
Isis Candy Cherry: A yellow and red bicolor cherry tomato with stars on the blossom end; recommended by a good friend so I though to try it.
Moonglow: Bright orange tomatoes that have few seeds and keep well. Highly recommended by my good friend so I am going to try it.
Plum Lemon: I was torn between this variety and cream sausage, but decided to go with this one since the cream sausage can be difficult to determine if it is ripe yet.
Speckeled Roman: 5" long fruits that are red and orange striped. Good for processing and fresh eating, and looks unique.
Ukrainian Purple: I was toen between this variety and black plum, but the 4" length of the ukrainian purple sold me; with as many cherries as I will be growing, I need some bigger fruits.
Snowberry: purchased in 2011 by my good friend from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. A very light yellow, small and sweet cherry that is popular in europe but difficult to find in the U.S.
Thats that for tomatoes, now moving on to my pumpkemon pumpkins:
The plants started out wonderfully; they were pratically unphased by squash bugs and cucumber beetles and each plant had one little pumpkin on it. Then I became inconsistent with watering, my other squash plants died off, and the weeds started to take over and neglect killed my poor little pumpkemons. I think better bed preperation would have helped a lot in weed control. I am saving seed from all of these pumpkins pictured above that I let get over ripe on the vine. I have also saved seeds from my first loofa gourd, lemon cucumbers, and some wild morning glories that have tiny white flowers.
Pictured above is my current system for saving rain water. Just any solid vessel I can find to hold water set on the drip line of the BBQ shed next to the garden. Next year I intend to instal a length of gutter and a rainbarrel with a hose hook up to make life easier (and more efficient!)
My newest endeavor is raising laying chickens. I dont have any chickens yet, but I am doing lots of research and have begun the planning stage:
Using 5 gallon buckets, remesh, chicken wire, 2x4's and a tarp or two I think I can make a portable chicken hoop coop, styled both after a chicken tractor or ark and a hoop house for plants. The bottom will be open to the grass to let the birds more or less free range with a solid protection provided overhead and on the sides. The unit will be moved at least every day and passive solar heating techniques will be used. The tarps I have in mind are silver on one side and brown on the other. In the summer the silver, reflective side will be facing out and the unit will be kept in the shade. In the winter the dark, heat absorbing side will be facing out and the unit wil be placed in sunlight with the side with the door facing south to let as much light and heat in as possible. I messed up in my calculations of how much remesh would be needed, so the materials cost is off, but since I was going to be purchasing another 150ft roll of remesh anyways, I think it will all work out in the end.
Tomorrow we will start digging the bed that will be the permanent home to the blue berries and ground cherries on one end and various other rotated vegetables on the other. Progress updates will be made, and in the mean time Happy Gardening!
We went to the county fair today and has a great time; talked to a nice lady about her draft horses and watched some cart races. The rides were very fun until I rode the gravitron and started to feel sick. Randy got me what was probably the best funnel cake that I have had in my entire life.
The most interesting part of the fair was looking at the produce submitted by local farmers and gardeners. Next year I think we will submit some of our produce to the fair and see if we get any ribbons or anything of the sort. Also next year I would like to see the rabbit and goat shows.
I got the most epic straw hat today for $6.00. I think I will get a picture of me in it and make that my new profile picture.
It has been ages since I last blogged, and I am excited to be back! This season has been wonderful; the garden was the best yet; the vegetables grew well enough that I actually had pest problems! In years past the plants didn't even attract attention from starving bugs, lol.
This season went so well, in fact, that in 2012 we are launching our careers as MicroFarmers. More news on this to come!
Fall chores have already begun as we bring in last harvests from the peppers and tomatoes. We are rearranging the vegetable beds a bit, and we are going back through and re-double digging all of them. We are breaking up the soil 2' deep this time, and adding composted leaves and grass as we go.
I am off to bed for tonight; tomorrow is going to be a big day as I will be going to the Lincoln County Fair for the very first time! :)
I took advantage of the 50 degree sunny weather yesterday and almost finished digging all the vegetable beds. The only bed I have left to dig is the leek/carrot bed parallel to iris row. Instead of tilling up the ground under the pea and bean tee pees I am going to just hand cultivate the ground at the bases of the tee pee legs. I figure there is no point in tilling under the grass just to have weeds grow there and it will all be shaded by the bean and pea plants later in the season as the tee pees are covered. I am following a similar design with the corn field, just digging a small area for each seed instead of tilling up the entire plot. I got some pictures this morning before the rain chased me and the pups inside:
Here is a reference diagram to give you a birds-eye perspective of the whole thing.
These next two photos show most of the garden: the row of tomatoes on the right, with the diagonal beds in the foreground are for the zucchini and squash, with the pepper beds directly behind them, and the cucumber beds are the farthest back. If you look closely, the bed for the beans and eggplant is along the fenceline on the left side of the first image. Randy was so kind as to rake some leaves from between the beds into the beds to help tidy things up. He doesn't do as well in the cold as I do though so he didn't stay outside for too long.
a better view of the bean/eggplant bed and the pole bean teepees. when I was digging the bed for the bush beans and the egg plant I had an idea to plany sunflowers along the fence line behind the bush beans. I read that bush beans like shade, and I know I am going to have a lot of extra sunflower seeds, and I could always use more sunflowers!
This next image was taken from the back corner of the vegetable garden, looking towards the house. I think the whole garden will look so much better when we edge the raised beds with river stone, but the weather hasn't been letting us collect rocks lately, so that is put on hold for a while.
Another alternate view. The iris row is barely visibile with all the leaves covering it there on the left side of the image.
In this next image it is really apparent where the water hits the ground when it rains; I would love to install a gutter on that side of the shed and have it drain into a rainbarrel with a spigot; it would minimize the impact area of the rain hitting the ground and it would help us reduce our water consumption, not to also mention the extremely easy access to the vegetable bedes that will need watering!
Its too cold for vegetables, so I planted puppies.
This is a sort of before picture of where the leek and corrot bed will be.
Sam and Zee were being little terrorists when I was taking pictures; I was trying my best to not step on them but they weren't going to give up on tryign to eat my shoe laces as I walked.
it is now raining and cold outside; a vast difference from the 54 degrees it was when I went out to take pictures at about 12:30 this afternoon. But inside the sun room spring is finding its way here: my leeks are all sprouting; though there are some seedlings that I dont thnk are leeks, but I have never grown them before so I dont know if I should pull them or not.
Projects that are looming over me as needing to be done are
1.) the lettuce bed: I need to get a load of rocks from the creek and finish edging the bed, as well as filling in the bed with dirt and I need to secure the teepees so they stop blowing over.
2.) order the rest of the seeds: I got all the seeds of the varieties I wanted from walmart, and the rest need to be gotten online, and I would like to order them soon so I can be sure to get them. I am afraid if I wait too long then some of them will be out of stock.
3.) finish raking the yard: leaves are blowing into the areas we have already raked, and at this rate if we dont get it all cleaned up soon we are going to have to go back over what we have already done: not cool!
4.) put good dirt into the front flower beds: just never got around to that
5.) transplant boxwood bushes: I know its not the best time of year to do that, but it didn't happen in the fall when we should have done it, and I need the front flower bed empty for the herbs and flowers; the bushes gotta go.
I am definitely glad I got started working on the yard in January; there is still so much to do. I am going to try to plant my snow peas and sugar snap peas feb15-20, dependign on the weather. I am going to germinate them inside before planting them because I have read that doing that gives them a higher germination rate. It is strange, but I seem to be gathering through my research that peas germiante well in warm soil but grow best in cool conditions. How odd!
Despite the 35 degree weather, I spent about two hours in the garden digging. I probably wont be able to dig too much more for the rest of the week because the ground was frozen in spots and made the going rough.
I have all the tomato beds outlined. I am putting off double digging until march to give the compost piles a bit more time to break down and to let the weather warm up, but I figured I could still at least get them all marked out to really get a perspective of what I am working with. I also dug three of the five pepper beds and added a 5gal bucket of good dirt to each of the tomato beds. Here is a picture of my progress:
One of the tomato beds is cut off in this picture, but hopefully yall get the idea. Eventually I would like to have each of these beds edged in river stone, but that is going to be a work in progress for a long time I think. In the far back ground is my compost piles and holes and I was standing in the BBQ Shed when I took this picture. There is still so much work to be done; here is an updated version of my vegetable garden plan, with the beds that are dug highlighted in red:
The red X is where I was standing when I took the picture, and the blue lines indicate the line of sight that the camera captured (that is approximate) The vegetable garden is going to be huge: I am coming to realize this the more I work on it. However, unline the first year I tried gardening in the ground, I have a little bit of experience gardening in pots and I have been thoroughly researching each of the plants I will be growing and I been planning so intensively; I am hopeful for this year and while I am not quite entirely confident that it will succeede or that I am not taking on too much, I am at least very excited to give it my best effort and see what happens!
Sam and Zee, our puppies, are my constant companions in the yard. I have to be careful when I am shoveling or carting around dirt because they like nothing better than to be under my feet, but it makes being outside so enjoyable. I finally got some pictures of them:
Sam is solid black and so sweet tempered. He is quite a bit stockier than Zee, but that is fine by me :)
Sam and Zee sitting together at the base of the dogwood at the end of Iris Row.
Zee is a very bouncy, excited, and curious puppy. Hazel was too when she was his age, and she mellowed out nicely. Hopefully Zee will mellow out, too.
I have started a stump collection.... is that weird? oh well, who cares! lol. I found these along the southern property line and they looked so cool.
They are sitting behind the white shed waiting for me to find something to do with them. I also have some of what I have started calling "root trees" that are just the roots with some of the tree still attached of smooth sumac saplings,
I have had the idea to design a shade garden for around the storage sheds:
within the black lines is where the flower beds will be and the black arch thingy is supposed to be an arbor. anyone have any suggestions on shade loving vine plants?
I think I am going to place the stumps and root trees in the shade garden like grizzly, gnarled looking statues. The flower beds will edge both the sheds entirely except for where the doors are. I am going to plant sun loving plants on the right walls of each shed and shade plants everywhere else around them. I am also going to plant morning glories on the posts for the clothes line. I think some landscaping will really liven up this part of the yard.
well, the groundhog says there is going to be an early spring; that just about puts me in a mood to hug some rodents!
It is windy and pouring rain today; I think I managed to spend about 15 minutes outside this morning before the rain chased me and the pups back inside. Checked the weather forecast and it looks like the highs are going to be in the 30's for the next week, so I dont guess I will be doing a whole lot in the yard.
So today I have been working on making a digital copy of the vegetable garden plans: it is a bit smaller on GG than what it was in paint, but I think it might give you all the basic idea.
The dashed line on the right signifies where I stopped measuring. The vegetables we will be growing that aren't illustrated here are the snow peas, lettuces, radishes and spinach that are in the lettuce bed by the house as well as the three varieties of pumpkin, loofa gourd, watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe. also, half the corn crop got cut off.
Now, in an attempt to escape the dreary weather and wintertime blues I am going to post the prettiest pictures of the vegetable varieties I will be growing as I can find. I miss the warm and the sun and opening the windows and screen doors to let fresh air in.
Kentucky Blue Pole Beans
Dwarf French Bean Velour (bush)
Bush Bean Soleil
Soybean Early Hakucho
Black beauty Egg Plant
Corn, Golden Bantam
Cucumber, Straight Eight
Tomato, Amish Paste
tomato, Yellow Pear
Tomato, Gardeners delight
Tomato, Big rainbow
At least one variety of marigold I am growing is tigers eye, an heirloom variety:
American flag Leeks
Little Finger Carrots
pepper, rainbow bell blend
Jalapeno, flase alarm hybrid
Yellow CrookNeck Squash
Asclepias Tuberosa (butterfly plant)
I hope yall dont mind all the pictures (I realy hope they load properly) I hope these pictures help brighten yalls day as much as they did mine; finding them made me hungry and heartsore for spring to burst into life.
Stay safe in the snow, all yall northern gardeners.
Since last time I updated it has snowed and melted and we vended at ChattaCon. We also both got sick, recovered, and now Randy is getting sick again, starting in the throat this time instead of the sinuses. Right now I have him bundled up on the couch watching cartoons and eatting leek and potato soup. Speaking of leeks, I planted two flats of American flag leeks
I think I am going to transplant them into the ground March 15th, or just wait until April 20th when I will be putting everything into the ground. I have been reading the book Seed to Seed and it has a lot of useful information in it; and the contributor for the Southeast planting advice lives in Huntsville, AL, which is about half an hour south of me. I also spoke to a local gardener I met in the seed aisle at walmart who says she plants her stuff usually around april 20th, but that some people just hold off until may 1. I guess I will be watching the weather forcast real close around that time.
We purchased a new rake; it is wider and longer than our other one and it has padding on the handle. Nice metal rake with a wood handle. Yesterday we raked for about 5 hours and got a whole big portion of yard raked:
This whole patch had been covered in leaves; who knew there would be a yard under all that! Here is an example of the contrast between not raked (on the left) and raked (on the right)
We haven't even touched the old horse pasture yet; we need to cut all the tall grass down and rake before new growth starts so that we can maintain it when spring and summer come round. Here are most of the leaves we raked up: I dont think I will be short on leaf mold for the compost.
By the time I got around to taking pictures it was getting dark, but before I went inside I decided to move our lady statue to where the well house used to be last time we lived here.
The bush in the back ground is a crepe myrtle; I am not sure what the bushes directly to the right of the statue are, but Randy's grandma had planted them, so they are staying there. The metal cap at the feet of the statue is the cap to the well. I am dubbing this garden as The Well Bed. It will have a single layer of river stone as a border and annuals planted around the statue. This area recieves full sun through the day and the well bed is near the sunflower garden (making a mental note to get a picture of where the two gardens are in respect to each other.) so I think I am going to plant black eyed susans, yellow celosia, and marigolds. Maybe a plant or two of purple asters. I am so looking forward to everything being vibrant and alive again. The dogwood tree at the end of Iris Row is developing buds at the ends of all the branches; they are still very woody and barely there, but it is a sign of spring to come.
we were expecting rain today, but it only sprinkled a bit in the early morning so I was out in the yard again (didn't get any pictures) and I started outlining where the vegetable beds will be with my hand rake, then I dug the outlines of two of the five tomato beds. My entire body was rebelling at the work after doing so much yesterday, so I was only out there for an hour and a half before I came back inside to feed the guys. It has been very useful to be outside so much; I am trying to potty train the puppies, Sam and Zee, and every time I go outside I take them with me. At least there is less mess in the sun room, where we are keeping them. If I can get them to stay still long enough to get some good pictures, I will post them to show how much they have grown; they are two months old now and so cute.
Come on Spring!
We got home from a show in Memphis with enough time to run errands in town and get groceries before the snow storm started. Right now its about 12 am and there is almost half a foot of snow on the ground. I have some pictures of the progress we made on the 6th; after that we were so busy preparing for the show and being at the show that nothing else got done.
Hazel was digging for moles in the yard and bore the evidence of her actions: she is too cute sometimes, acting like she thinks we dont know what she is up to.
We had picked up another load of rocks and I decided to start on the lettuce beds where we will be planting four varieties of lettuce: grand rapids, great lakes #118, parris island cos, and bibb, as well as teton hybrid spinach. I made five teepees from some of the smooth sumac saplings we cleared out of the old horse pasture. I will be planting melting sugar snow peas to climb the teepees in hopes that they will shade the lettuce beds a bit and keep them cooler for longer into the season.
This area of the yard gets full sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon; again, i was hoping this would contribute to an extended growing season for the lettuces. When it gets too hot for the lettuces I am going to plant the bed entirely with parsley for fresh use, then cut it all to dry when it comes time to plant a fall crop of lettuce. also, this bed isn't finished yet. It will be going in a horse shoe shape around the side of the house as well as the leg coming out by the teepees. It is still a work in progress and we will need at least another load of rocks to finish it.
I brought the puppies outside for the first time when I was working on the bed; I lament that I didn't get any pictures of them but they were so cute, exploring this world for the first time. Hazel was precious, too, playing with them like she was a puppy again too.
I also made the rest of the teepees for the pole beans: the purple and wax beans I will be growing are bush varieties, so that was nice to not have to make 15 teepees. I will be planting five of each bean variety. I love some string beans! My favorite way to eat them is sauteed in butter with garlic and dill weed and a bit of salt. One of our old room mates calls them "crack beans" because he says I put illegal additives in them to make them addiciting and delicious. I told him he can think whatever he wants so long as he eats his vegetables, lol.
Its kindof difficult to see, and even more difficult to put it into a bigger picture of the whole yard, but I have the teepees on either side of the entrance to what will be the vegetable garden:
The iris row is directly to the left, bordering the western side of the garden, and the neighbor's pasture is on the right. If I can ever find the aerial photo of the property taken years ago, I am going to scan and upload it; it gives an excellent birds eye view of the property and where everythign is in perspective.
Here is a before picture of the storage sheds that we haven't done any work to yet:
We are going to be replacing the floor and making new doors for the while shed, as well as repainting it and putting a flower bed all around it, and we only need to put a flower bed around the other shed with the windows. I will be putting a bed around the tree between them as well, and eventually putting an arbor over the walk way between the white shed and the large tree; that is the route I take to get to the compost hole, so it will make a sometimes smelly chore more enchanting. I will also be putting small beds around each of the poles for the clothes line. I was thinking about planting sweet peas to climb up each of them, but I think I would like something with a longer bloom time. Any suggestions?
And to wrap up the progress fomr the 6th, a most recent picture of the BBQ shed:
granted, its all covered in snow right now, but I dont mind :)
Its off to bed for me; I hope sleep finds me quickly so I can start getting over this cough that is beginning to set in. I am counting my blessings that we have two weeks before our next show and that the weather isn't exaclty perfect for preparing flower beds, so I have nothing better to do than read my new book Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth, do school work, make jewelry, play with puppies, and get better already!
I hope everyone stays safe and warm in this winter weather!
Our room mate went back to work at the local factory today, so we all got up at 4am to have breakfast before he went to work. I finished all my school assignments first thing and then Randy and I spent some time our in the old horse pasture. We worked for a few hours ripping up and cutting down all the smooth sumac saplings that were growing right where the pumpkin and melon patches were going to be. The good thing about the sumac patching is now we know exactly where the field gets full sun because the stuff only grows well in full sun, so now I know exactly where to place the hills when it comes time to plant so my melons and pumpkins get full sun :)
All the saplings we cut down will be repurposed in one way or another; I am going to use the tallest ones to make teepees for my string beans and the rest of them I am going to try to make cages out of for my eggplants, cucumbers, and squashes. I dont know if the handmade cages will hold up to indeterminate tomatoes, but I think I only have enough for the other plants excluding the tomatoes anyways.
I miss things being green. But the cool weather and dormant plants is making for some really easy yard work.
George, our room mate, helped me hang the swing in the BBQ shed as a surprise for Randy; its hanging back up where it had been when his grandparents were alive and its still functional, although in need of some repairs.
Now for some before and after pictures of the BBQ shed:
Its still not that pretty yet, but it is so much nicer now that the walls and gate have been taken down, the scrap lumber laying all over the pace has been consolidated into one pile for future use, the fire wood for BBQing has been stacked, and the swing has been hung. After I took pictures of todays progress there was still a bit of daylight left so I raked up some of the leaves in front of the shed and moved a table and chairs set to over there so there will be more sitting room for when we have a BBQ party.
When I was taking pictures the horses in the neighbors pasture were by our fence line; I fed them some grass I pulled up from our side of the fence (even this time of year, with everything dead and brown, the grass is still greener on the other side, lol) and I snapped a quick picture of one of them grazing.
I didn't get as much dirt moved today as I had intended, but I also hadn't planned on Randy and I clearing out the pumpkin and melon patch area, so I think it is a fair trade off. I did get the sunflower bed topped off with some soil:
This is what that area looked like in its "before" picture
And this is what that area looks like now:
I want to say that I can't wait until I can start planting things, but there is so much work to do before then still that I think I can wait, lol.
Tomorrow I would like to get the teepees made and make some cages, as well as move dirt to the front flower beds like how I had planned for today. I am also going to start laying the floor plans for the vegetable garden, which should be interesting. I might get out the reel mower and trim the field where the pumpkins and melons will be, but I might just need to go through and trim it by hand since so much of it is just brambly bushes and clumps of tall, dead grass. But for now, I am going to bed!
I spent about four hours in the yard today taking advantage of the cloudless sky. If I keep going at the rate I have been these past few days, I will have the entire yard ready for spring before too long. My online classes start back up tomorrow, though, so that is going to start taking time away from gardening.
Today while we were in town we got more rocks and I used them to border the sunflower bed:
I need to fill the bed with dirt then till the whole bed up in the spring with some compost and rotten leaves to break up the clay before planting. I am planning on having a sunflower mix planted along the back with marigolds planted in a thick row all along the front of the bed. The large stone nearest the wall and dryer vent in the wall will have a potted plant on it; probably my lemon tree so it can have some nice hot, humid conditions. The weather looks like it will be clear but cold tomorrow, much like how today was, so I might be able to get a lot more done in the yard again.
I finished diggin the new compost hole:
and used the dirt from the hole and the big pile to finish filling the bath bed with dirt:
Now the bath bed is finished until spring when I will till the whole bed up, working in compost and rotten leaves before planting anything. I plan on planting dwarf asiatic lilies in mixed colors around the bird bath, with some coleus planted at the base of each shepherd pole. The entire bed will be edged in snapdragons. I mght also mix in some other flowers depending on how much room is left, but that is the basic plan for this bed.
I used dirt from the big pile to fill the shade bed under the oak tree:
so now this shade bed is ready for things to be planted in the spring. I missed my opportunity to buy bulbs for this bed on clearance so I had to rethink what would be going in this bed. So far I am certain about pams choice foxglove and blue columbine. The foxglove wont bloom until next year I dont think, so I am going to need to find more plants for this bed. Maybe some hostas or ferns would be very nice. In any case, at least I have the dirt in there!
I have only used this much of the big pile:
The top two inches of soil was frozen, but once i chipped through that it was really easy digging. I want to have this pile of dirt and rubbish entire relocated in time to plant the melon patch here, so I have a lot of work ahead of me, but luckily I have a ton of projects that could use more dirt! Tomorrow I will be using more dirt from the big pile to fill in the sunflower bed, to top off the raised bed around the power pole in the front yard, and I am going to start putting dirt in the front flower bed where the herbs and hummer/butterfly garden will be. I will also be using this dirt for the melon/pumpkin/gourd hills and to amend the beds in the veggie garden (really heavy clay there)
Randy helped me take the gate off the BBQ shed today so now the deconstruction phase of the shed is over.
The next phase will be to make it look nice and make it functional. We will be raking and compacting the dirt where the chickens were kept since they fluffed it up a lot. We will also be repurposing all the scrap wood that is laying all over the BBQ pit. We are going to hang the swing facing the pit on the center cross beam (suspended over right where the red wagon with no buckets is) We are also going to move all the hickory wood into the sheltered area. I am not sure exactly what all landscaping will be going into this shed, but hopefully it will be lots and it will look nice.
I am going to be making a raised bed in one of the back corners of the house:
here I will be planting lettuce and spinach until it gets too hot and they bolt, then I am going to transplant the entire bed with parsley. I can never have enough fresh parsley it seems, so instead of butchering a single plant for all its leaves I am going to have an entire bed of the stuff to give them a fighting chance against my ravages.
I am trying to make enough space for all the seedlings I will be planting in the sun room while trying to keep it all puppy proof.
I will have started trays on all five shelves of the white wire rack that is in front of the window. This is a picture of the wall that recieves southern exposure. I dont have any seeds started yet; I was just laying the trays out to see how many I will be able to fit. I have no idea how I am going to do grow lights: I didn't have any last year any everything came out leggy; but I also didn't get very good sun exposure on the seedlings. Maybe I will have better luck this year in our new location.
This is the northern wall: I will have more seeds on the table, on top of the kennel, and on the coffee table that is on top of the table.... I had to get a little creative with making vertical space. The heater on the table keeps the room about 65 at night and 80 during the day: I am going to get some heating pads for the wire rack so the seeds will stay warm at night.
Well, thats what I have been up to today. I didn't get any pictures of the saplings I cut up to make more teepees out of, and I was tuckered out before I got a chance to make them, so that goes on my to-do list for tomorrow along with filling the front flower beds with dirt, turning the compost hole and pile, and maybe raking up more leaves from the yard. I kindof skipped the whole 'fall clean up' thing and went right into the fun stuff. so now there are leaves everywhere. Is it too late to dig up irises to divide them? or should I just rake the iris row and pull the clumps of dead weeds and wait to divide them until next fall?
I am gonna sleep good tonight!!!
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.
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