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This was not my first harvest, but the first one that I thought was big enough to be deserving of a pic. As you can see, it really isn't all that big. I harvest daily, and we've been pretty much been eating everything as soon as it gets picked, so I can't show in pictures the amounts that I've really collected, which are still quite modest. ;)
Here are a couple of pics of what I call my veggie garden, though much of the yard has become a veggie garden. ;)
On the one side--
On the other--
This is what I call my blueberry patch, though I've planted many other things in there this year. The black-eyed Susans have since bloomed, the petunias are filling out, and are looking much better now.
Coleus. I've added more, and they've grown, so they look better now. :)
And, of course, tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes.
More pics later. :)
I'm growing increasingly frustrated as I thought I would have an overabundance of everything daily by now. So far though, I've only gotten a trickling of various things here and there every day or every other day. A little bit of lettuce, a handful of sugar snap peas, a few zucchinis and yellow squashes, a bit of spinach and swiss chard, 7 cherry tomatoes (not all at once), a pinch of cilantro, and a lot of parsley. Parsley is just about the most useless edible that I planted. And when you cut it, it grows back bigger and better. Why can't everything else grow like that? I was seriously hoping to have enough that I might have to freeze and can things, after giving much away. But most of it so far hasn't even made it to the fridge. ;) My pepper plants are just beginning to flower NOW. I'm thinking that if I had something that more truly resembled full sun, the gardens would be much further along by now. As it is, my gardens probably really only get about 4 hours of direct sunlight during the day and a bit of dappled light throughout other parts of the day. I guess I should be grateful to get the growth that I do. Those darn trees! Oh well. Maybe in a few weeks I'll have the giant harvest that I was hoping for, but I hate waiting. I've already picked 3 carrots way too soon, because I thought for sure they should be ready by now. And I hope onions re-plant well. I know they're supposed to pop out of the ground when they're ready, but the stem seemed so big and it had been so long that I figured I'd just better check. Now, if only my scallions were so slow to bulb! ;) It isn't all bad, I'm just waiting for that BIG harvest where I have more than I know what to do with and all of my ornamentals are flowering like crazy.
My blueberry bushes have put on a little growth-- about 6-12 inches. So that's one step closer to becoming the big beautiful hedge that I envision.
I've been working on digging out a hole for the peach tree and replacing/amending the soil. About 6 ft. in diameter and 1- 1 1/2 ft. deep. There's a couple of inches of topsoil and all rocks and clay underneath that, so as arduous as it seems, it really is necessary so that the tree won't drown and somewhere to spread its roots.
My strawberries are blooming here and there and I'm not pinching them off anymore. I'm not expecting too much this year since I just planted them this spring, so at least I won't be disappointed. ;)
My fig twig is beginning to put out a few leaves. I had planted it directly in the ground so it could grow well, but now I'm thinking that unless it makes some miraculous growth between now and frost, it might be best to pot it up and bring it in for the winter.
My Hansen's cherry bushes are leafing out and growing AMAZINGLY well. I just planted them 3 weeks ago and they've already put on several inches of new growth. I got those and the fig twig from Direct Gardening, believe it or not. I guess they can manage to do a few things right.
So, that's all for now. I'll post pics later.
I had ordered a Contender peach tree from Gurney's, which I haven't yet received. They have however sent the strawberries, and a planting guide. The planting guide states that a standard sized peach tree will bear fruit in 4-5 years. 4-5 years!!!! Well, at Home Depot they had a 7 ft., well-branched Elberta peach tree which should almost definitely produce next year. So, I got it. :) It also produces about a month/a month and a half after the Contender, so it should extend the season nicely. They had nice sized fruit trees at the local nursery too, but the were very expensive, and I wasn't familiar with the varieties they offered anyway. I have also ordered some Hansen's bush cherries and a fig tree from Direct Gardening. They're a discount online nursery with an iffy reputation, but so inexpensive, I figured it'd be worth the chance.
So, I have planted all of my strawberry plants--27 Tribute (everbearing), and 28 Sparkle Supreme (Junebearing). All but a few are beginning to leaf out quite nicely. I should get a few Tribute strawberries this year, but next year is the year. Next year I should have blueberries, strawberries, peaches, maybe some bush cherries and figs, plus whatever annual fruits and veggies I may plant.
Thus far this season, I have harvested much of the spinach that I planted. It really didn't make that much, but was beginning to go to seed. It's quite delicious, but I'll have to remember to plant much more next year if I want any sort of substantial harvest. My zucchini plants have little itty bitty zucchinis on them and are beginning to bloom. Some of my "mystery" tomatoes are blooming and beginning to set fruit. My sugar snap peas are also beginning to bloom. Everything else is growing along well, but it will be a while before harvest.
All things considered, my "farm" is really quite small, but I can almost guarantee you that it's the biggest edible landscape in this entire suburban neighborhood. ;) And I have more plans yet to come. :)
This is a design that is more original. I think I saw a plant/vine holder that looked like this and/or something to dry your laundry on that looked like this which could fold. Even doing this much, though, was enough for me, and I definitely wasn't going to even attempt to make it fold. It's sturdier than the other one, and because it doesn't need to be "planted" into the ground, the legs probably won't rot off as easily. ;) Like with the other trellises, screws would make it sturdier, but I used nails because that's what I had, and it's a little bit easier. So, substitute as you see fit. As with the others, I place the heavier/thicker branches towards the bottoms and the thinner/more lightweight branches towards the top.
Mock Folding Trellis
4 Thick "X" branches-- as straight as possible
Length: 40" Diameter: 2 1/2"
4 Thin "X" branches
Length: 40" Diameter: 1-2"
4 Thick Short Cross Bars--as straight as possible
Length: 42" Diameter: 2 -- 2 1/2"
4 Thin Short Cross Bars
Length: 42" Diameter: 1 -- 2"
5 Long Cross Bars--as straight as possible
Length: 60" Diameter: 2 -- 2 1/2"
1 1/2", 2", 2 1/2", and 3" nails
Maybe some garden wire
Drill, varying drill bits, hammer, and saw
1. Take 2 Thick "X" branches, cross one over the other at the middle so that the bottom of the legs are about 30" apart and the bottom to the top measures about 30". Twirl the branches around until you find the best fit. This will make the first end piece. The measurements do not have to be exact, what's more important is that the two end pieces are nearly identical. Drill 1-2 pilot holes and nail them together using medium-large nails.
2. Place a Thick Short Cross Bar over the bottom of the "X" about 4-5" above the bottom. Drill 2 pilot holes on each side and nail medium-large nails in. Do the same with the top Thick Short Cross Bar. You can use garden wire to reinforce the branches/keep them in place as you're nailing it together.
3. Cut the bottom pieces of the "X" so that it will be flush with the ground when stood upright. Now you have your first end piece.
3 a. Follow steps 1-3 for the second end piece. You can place the second over the first for measurements to make sure that they are nearly identical.
4. Lean one end piece against something so that it is basically upright, or have someone hold it for you. Place the other one about 50" away. Place one Long Cross Bar across the two so that it hangs over the two end pieces evenly -- about 3" on each side. Hold the other end as perfectly upright as you can and drill pilot holes and nail it in. Do the same with the other end piece.
5. Nail in a Long Cross Bar on the other side, then one in the middle and two on the top.
6. Thread a Thin "X" branch over and under the top, middle, and opposite bottom long cross bars whichever way fits best approximately 17" (in other words one third in) in from the end piece and nail it in.
7. Do the same with another thin "X" branch in the opposite direction to for an "X". Place a Thin Short Cross Bar across the bottom of the "X" hanging over the two bottom Long Cross Bars and nail it in. Place a Thin Short Cross Bar over the top of the "X" and nail it in.
7 a. Follow steps 6-7 for the last "X" which should be placed about 1/3 in from the other end piece--approximately 17" in from the end.
Drill pilot holes and reinforce any areas that seem to be weak. Ta-daaaa. :)
SpringChicken asked me to share my expertise on making trellises with trees form your backyard. I wouldn't really call myself an expert, but I'll share what I know. ;) I basically got this first design from the book "Making Arbors and Trellises." It is a wonderful book with many excellent designs using tree branches, but mostly real wood. It also has a design for a simple teepee trellis. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to learn more about making arbors and trellises. I got my copy at the library, so you may be able to find a copy at your library as well. These homemade trellises made of tree branches from your backyard are probably not good for heavy perennial vines such as grapes, as they are lightweight and rot faster than regular trellises. In fact, one of the "legs" that I "planted" last year rotted off, so it's only 1/2 as sturdy this year. ;) I have used mine for annuals such as cucumbers and sugar snap peas.
The dimensions that I give are the ones that I used, but you can certainly change them to suit your needs/preferences. As you can see form my own trellises, the actual size and shape and placement of the wood can vary quite a bit. And remember, you can always cut the wood down, but it's a lot harder to put it back together, so estimate high, especially for the zigzag pieces. I drilled pilot holes for the larger nails and thicker wood so that the wood wouldn't split and the nails would actually go through. A pilot hole is a hole that is a little bit smaller in diameter than the nail/screw. As a general rule, place the heavier, thicker parts of the wood towards the bottom and the lighter, thinner sides towards the top. Ideally, use exterior nails so they won't rust as fast. More ideally, use screws rather than nails, which hold together better, but I used nails, because it's what I had, and it was a bit easier.
Basic Square/Rectangular Flat Trellis, with optional fan top
2 "leg" branches
Length: 45" Diameter: 1-2"
3 Cross bar branches
Length: 50" Diameter: 1- 1 1/2"
10 Zigzag Diagonal branches
Ranging in sizes from Length: 21" -- 36" Diameter: 1/2" -- 1 1/2"
1" nails, 1 1/2" nails, 2" nails, 2 1/2" nails
Maybe some garden wire
Drill, Hammer, Saw
For fan top:
1 curved "green" branch
Length: approximately 52" Diameter: 1" - 1/2"
5 fan branch pieces
Diameter: 3/4"- 1 1/2" Length: ranging from 13"-15"
1. Set the two "leg" branches on a flat surface approximately 43" apart. Place the 3 cross bars over them approximately 10" apart from each other leaving about 3-4" over hang on each side and about 20" of "leg" on the bottom, and 2" on top. Drill pilot holes as necessary and nail them in, starting with the bottom piece, then the top, then the middle, readjusting as necessary so that it is square.
2. Place 5 zigzag pieces over the structure diagonally, adjusting until you have a pleasing design. Drill pilot holes as necessary and nail them in where the branches overlap.
3. Flip the structure over and place the other zigzag pieces diagonally going in the other direction. Drill pilot holes as necessary and nail them in.
4. Cut off the excess zigzag pieces at the bottom so that they are straight across and will be basically flush with the ground when you "plant" the trellis. Cut off the excess top pieces if you want it to look neat, or want to put on the fan top.
Note: My trellis without the fan top is actually a little bit taller, because I know I wouldn't be putting on a fan top.
5. "Green" wood is wood that has been cut from the tree no more than 24 hours earlier. Green wood is flexible and can be bent into shape without breaking. The thinner the wood is, the easier it is to bend. Willow is one of the most flexible woods. I don't have willow trees, but if you do, you could probably use a thicker piece of wood that I did.
Bend the wood from end to end to make sure it will fit. Nail the thicker end in first and reinforce with garden wire if necessary. Nail the other end in.
6. Flip the structure over and add the fan pieces, starting with the middle one and work you way out. Cut them down to the correct size as you work. Reinforce with garden wire as necessary.
Voila! Be forewarned that if the branches that you used for the legs of the trellis are freshly cut that when you plant them into the ground they may start growing leaves as mine did last year. ;)
Here's the blueberry patch that I've been working on so furiously for the past 6 months. As you can see, I've refined the design a bit, and it's looking better. It will look even better, I believe, as it grows in, and I get everything else planted in there. My neighbor gave me some hostas which I at first planted in that little corner, but have since moved as it was too sunny for them there.
Here's the flower garden with all the daffodils that my mom planted years ago. They have multiplied and filled in quite nicely over the years. I planted some crocuses in there too last fall.
Well, my gardens are beginning to take shape. I've been hardening off what I started inside and planting some of the flower and veggie plants. I think I have finally achieved a pleasing design for my blueberry patch after a few missteps. I've been digging up and clearing the garden beds of weeds and debris. My neighbor's 3 year old son loves to help me dig--not because of gardening, but because he loves worms. I personally could do without them other than that I know they're good for the soil. I'll be glad to have everything planted and mulched where my main concern will be to merely water everything. I have so much else to do that has been neglected during this harried gardening period. And, of course, I hope to take many pictures of a bountiful harvest. :)
A visitor to my neighbor's house (other neighbor) boldly offered to buy my trellises. I tried to explain that I don't do business things. And she was like, "oh, right, I know... how about a donation?" I explained how I made them from trees that I had cut down in the backyard, and we have a limited number of trees. She seemed like a nice enough person, but sheesh, some people just need to learn that everything isn't for sale. Does she not have trees in her own backyard?? What's wrong with a little grimy manual labor anyway? And in case she didn't notice, my trellises are already being used. Hmph.
Here are some pics of *most* of my indoor plants and seedlings which I have started from seed for spring this year. All were started from seed, except for that succulent in the big white pot there. Many of them are still waiting to sprout.
I'm at the point now where I'm trying to acclimate some of the hardier plants to the outdoors, just to make room for my growing collection. It's getting quite crowded in here, but if I don't overdo it like this, I'll probably wish I had all summer. So, hopefully it will pay off. ;) Even though I am starting so many annuals, I have quite a few perennials too, so perhaps I won't have quite the same madness in here next year. I've also winter sown quite a few things, as well as direct sowed flower seeds, sugar snap peas, lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard. The local nursery gave me some plain large and small black plastic pots. I felt that even though they were within my budget (free), they should still be pretty, so I painted them. I'm also sanding and painting that room, which is why there's dust all over the floor. ;) This is a coleus that I pinched the heck out of at its growing points so that it would grow in more fully. The pic is kind of blurry. It has grown in since then, quite well. One of my Malva Zebrinas has begun to bloom indoors!! Only 2 months after sowing. A marigold has bloomed too, but I don't have a pic of that just yet.
I came. I saw. I took pictures for ya'll. ;) The theme this year was New Orleans. I knew that before I went, but had forgotten by the time I got there, and thought that maybe the theme was music as there were so many trumpets, musical notes, etc. My neighbor was volunteering there this year, and was kind enough to give me one of the free tickets that she got for volunteering. :) I looked for her while I was there, but couldn't find her. It was very crowded. I did manage to find their seed store. ;) They were selling seeds from several different companies, so there was a pretty good selection and opportunity to compare prices somewhat. I restrained myself a great deal and only bought 5 packets of seed-- fuchsia, cyclamen, snapdragons, coleus "Fairway Mosaic," and cat grass. I brought an extra roll of film, thinking that *maybe* I would need it. I could have easily gone through another roll of film, and wished that I had brought more, but I'll know for next year. I actually had a hard time getting pictures of anything more than the backs of people's heads. ;)
After taking in the show, I had a little lunch at the Reading Terminal Market, which is like a farmer's market with a bunch of little restaurants. That was really crowded too! I went around noon, so no wonder. All in all, a nice little trip. :)
For those of you in the area who are interested, the flower show is going on through Sunday, March 9--tomorrow. My pics really don't begin to cover all that is there, so it's worth the trip, if you would like to see it in person.
I'm putting the best pics here, and the rest are in my photo album.
Well, the marigolds are starting to set flower buds indoors just 4 weeks after sowing. Sheesh!! I had no idea they grew that fast. Oh well. It will be nice to have some pretty flowers indoors while I'm still waiting for spring.
Two of my coleus are starting to look very nice. They take quite a while to get started, but the longer they're around, the faster the new leaves grow. So they're growing at a decent pace by now.
I finally located some Epsom salt at the pharmacy, after have looked in several nurseries for it. 4 lbs. for 3 bucks. Not too bad. I've already put some on some of my more well established plants. We'll see if it makes any difference. So far, at least, it hasn't killed anything. ;)
I just sowed a bunch of tomato seeds-- beefsteak, cherry, Italian heirloom, and Italian market. Hopefully my crop will be better this year since I'm starting them so early, and I think I have a bit better of an idea of what I'm doing this year.
My one daylily which germinated about two months ago is really starting to take off. It must have been establishing a good root system in all of that time. Now sets of leaves are starting to poke through on the other side of the pot. And the new leaves seem much thicker and sturdier that the first set of leaves. I'm still waiting on the rest of my daylily seeds. Just because they haven't germinated yet, doesn't necessarily mean that they're duds. ;)
I have 58 hosta seeds. I most sincerely hope that all or most of them germinate and grow. I could so easily use 58 hostas around the yard.
What can I say?? I wish it was warm out! I'm so itching to get outside and move around at least a bit. But at least I'll be somewhat prepared this spring. ;)
Well, I went to the nursery yesterday to look for manure, straw, Epsom salt, and 6-cell starter pots. They don't carry Epsom salt, they didn't currently have manure and straw, and they don't normally carry 6-cell starter pots, though they said they might be able to order them for me. BUT they did have a pile of old plastic pots that they let me rummage through for free. I got a bunch of 3" and 4" square pots, plus 2 giant pots which will be good for tomatoes. Plus I bought a bag of 10-10-10 all purpose fertilizer. So, all in all, I'd say it was a worthwhile trip. I'm planning on painting the big pots and maybe some of the little pots so they won't look like cheap black plastic, even though that's what they are.
As for my indoor garden, I've counted and I have a little over 150 plants started. I've been rotating them under the lights and in the windowsills since I don't really have the number of light fixtures to accommodate all plants 24/7. I realized about a week ago that those coily long-life light bulbs that go in regular table lamps are actually florescent. So I've been using those to increase and enhance my indoor garden. One of my main problems so far seems to be that my cat loves to eat my hollyhocks. I've started a pot with 10-15 hollyhock seeds just for him. I hope that will be enough to keep him occupied.
In addition to my indoor garden, I've winter sowed about 150 seeds outdoors. None of them have yet germinated, but I'll keep you posted. :)
As promised, here are some pics of my seedlings and makeshift light stands.
This is some grass that I grew indoors for my cat. I got the idea when I saw seeds in a catalog for "cat grass". It said that cats need a certain amout of vegetation to aid digestion. And after my cat ate 3 small Malva Zebrina plants to death, I decided to grow some grass for him. He isn't much interested in the grass, but my dog ate some from one of the pots when she had an upset tummy, so it wasn't a total waste.
Leek seeds on the windowsill... haven't yet germinated.
An assortment of pots and seeds. Some have seeds or seedlings in them, some are still waiting.
From left to right... Balloon Flower seedlings, Blue Flax seedlings, and two 3 month old Coleus plants.
From left to right... Larkspur seedlings, a 6-pack of Hollyhock seedlings, a 4 week old daylily in the white pot, you can't really see it in the picture, but it's there, I promise, and two 1 1/2 month old Hollyhocks.
Some of you may be wondering why I'm starting seeds so early here in chilly zone 6b. Well... I have my reasons, no, really, I do. For one thing, I'm hoping that some of my perennials will flower this year. I'm even secretly dreaming that my foxgloves will bloom this summer, though being biennials, that is very unlikely. Another reason, some--not all--of the seeds that I'm starting are said to take anywhere from a few weeks to months to germinate. So, if they do take that long, then I may only have one or two sets of true leaves on them by the time Spring rolls around, even though starting them so early. With the annuals, I'm hoping to get a full summer's worth of flowers out of them, so I guess I'm erring on the side of having too many big plants to deal with indoors rather than having them bloom only to be killed by a frost a little while later. So... that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it. ;)
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