Monday, May 31, 2010

Garden Update #3

The garden is amazing me with how quickly last weekends seeds sprouted and how fast everything else has been growing. I guess the extreme heat, humidity, and a good nightly watering have been doing them good. And, to my own amazement, I've shocked my husband who thought this whole garden thing was going to be a waste of time and money. ;P So far I've only had four squares of strawberries (from the root seeds?) not come up and one square of cucumbers which I'm out of. But other than that, every single thing has sprouted and is going strong so far.

The strawberry bucket hasn't seen much growth yet, especailly compared to everything else in the past week, so I decided to move it to a more sunny spot. We'll see if that helps it take off.

Both the zuchinni and the squash sprouted and as you can tell, they are doing phenominal considering I planted them last Sunday!

And a few of the potatoes finally sprouted yesterday! Woohoo! I was a little worried how these would turn out.

Here are the sugar pumpkins I planted up against the house, all four plants have tiny sprouts.

And the two watermelon plants!

And the two jack'o lantern pumpkin plants!

This is kind of a hodge poge area where I tossed extra seelings I had, and then forgot to mark, but I think there is a broccoli plants here and the other is a brussle sprout plant. ;P

And my four melon plants are strewn about in the landscape.

Here's a overall view of my three square foot raised beds.

Box #1 is still going strong. The peas are flowering like crazy, so from what I read, that meas we should be harvesting sugar snap peas in just about a week. We also did our first harvest of lettuce and spinach this week. I made homeade ranch dressing to go over it using chives from the garden and Todd proclaimed it the best ranch he's ever tasted in his whole life! ;P We had some spinach in a pasta dish, but I'm making spinach strawberry salad tomorrow, so I'm super excited. The spinach isn't at it's peak like it was about two weeks ago, but thankfully it's still as good as the stuff from the super market, so we'll use it up while we still can! The dill plant is going crazy! I cannot think of enough dishes to use that all up! Anyone know if I should just trim it back?

Box #2 is just a steady grower. It's mainly plants that were supposed to be planted earlier in the season, before the last frost, but the first plants got ate by rabbits, so this is the second go around. No heads on anything yet though, so we'll see. I also have a giant mystery plant in the middle. I seriously have no idea what it is, haha!

Bed #3 is finally picking up too. My garden plan got a little messed up, so there is a mumble jumble of beans, carrots, lettuce, marigolds, and a zuchinni plant in the north part, but I have the south part under control. ;P The beans I planted last weekend really started strong, the eggplants are getting huge, and the new square of carrots, along with the new square of green onions all have tiny little sprouts starting.

Haha....and while this is not my garden, this is our neighbors, these are "our" tomato and pepper plants that got planted this weekend. Our neighbors just enjoy gardening and no longer can their produce, so they are very generous with what they drop off on our front porch. Not only that, but they remind us almost on a daily basis to come pick and pick away. They only have a few eggplant and zuchinni plants, but they grow about thirty varieties of peppers and tomatoes around their house and nestled in their landscape. So needless to say, this is why I don't grow a single pepper or tomato plant! And why I'm shooting a picture of it and watching it's progress, hehe!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Garden Update #2

I'm 99% done with the garden and all it's associated projects. I decided to wait for the most humid and hot day of the year so far....go figure! But Todd and the kids had a blast getting the inflatable pool, sprinkler, squirt guns and slip and slid out while I was doing it, so at least it kept me a little cool every time I got srayed or a bucket of water dumped on my head!

Here is the three raised beds as of 2pm! We added two trellises to the 4'x4' boxes and added chicken wire around the 3'x6' box since rabbits ate all my plants in that bed only!

This is box #1. The Amish snap peas are doing great! I had a really hard time getting the trellis in between the middle, but they were happy once I started working them up the trellis! The spinach and lettuce are also in DESPERATE need of being picked over. I've got two salad on the dinner menu this week and two pasta dishes for the hopefully that should keep them manageable!

This is box #2. I was lucky enough to find some pretty large cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprout plants at Meijer this weekend for cheap, so I figured why not. Well try to grow them and see what happens.We also added leftover chicken wire from the compost pile around the bed to keep the rabbits from coming back and having another feast!

This is box #3. The pole beans are going crazy! I also noticed quit a bit of the romaine is coming up as well as the carrots. The eggplant has also gone crazy and the leaves are getting huge compared to the tiny little seedlings we planted just a few weeks ago!

As for the structures, here is a picture of the whole trellis. We actually found out Lowes carries cement remesh panels, which are much cheaper than the 100' roll others use. The panel is 3 1/2' x 7' for only $6.39. These panels fit perfectly inside the beds and then we attached them to t-stakes with zip ties.

This is a good picture of the chicken wire we placed around bed #2 to keep the rabits out. The hardest part was keeping the top of the chicken wire from bowing out, so we needed lots of stakes. Thankfully we found some wood stakes in the shed as well as a few scrap pieces from the deck railing. May not be pretty, but it works great!

I also didn't plan out my garden before ordering seeds, so I already had watermelon seeds as well as pie pumpkins and jack o'lanterns. So it wasn't until I planned it out that I realized there was no way I'd have room for these in the raised beds. So after thinking it over, I decided what the heck, I threw some dying herbs in our beds last year and they did great, so why not try a few plants in there was well. I also picked up a few melons at Meijers last night as well. So below are the freshly planted melon seedlings.

Along the pack of the house, we put in the watermelons and sugar pie pumpkins. I also threw in an extra brussel sprout plant and extra broccoli I had.

And over here is the pumpkins. Currently they are marked with tiny toothpicks so I know where to water, but this is still on my to-so list....figure out a way of marking all of my plants. ;P

This is our potato bin. The "seeds" came in a variety pack I bought with onions, strawberries, and asparagus, so I figured I'd give them a try. I read online that they could be grown in a trashcan, so I figured, why not try a plastic bin I already had in the basement. So we cleaned it out really good and drilled several holes in the bottom for drainage.

I also ordered zuchinni and squash plants without really looking into how they can be grown in a square foot garden. After finding out how much room they really need, I decided to try container gardening for these. And wanting to keep cost down, I figured I'd try using some galvanized tubs I had leftover from our wedding 5 years ago! Again, we cleaned them up and drilled holes in the bottom. Again, not finished just yet though. We have an old wood ladder under the deck which I'm going to make into a trellis for these.

And last but not least, another idea I saw online was growing strawberries in a bucket. I was able to get the bucket for just $2.99 at Home Depot (as if you can't tell ;P). I then bought a 6 pk of strawberry plants. Tod used his 1" spade drill bit and made 16 or so holes in the bucket. I then placed the 6 plants inside the bucket, weaving the vines out through the holes and filling it up with compost as we went. I'm hoping we have lots of strawberries in another month or so!

We're super excited about the progress we've made so far and all the work we've put into it. The ony thing left we have to do, that I didn't mention earlier is a small herb garden on the deck. I want to grow some basil, cilantro, and parsley in a 3 basket planter. Hopefully I'll get around to that one night this week!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Saving on your landscape!

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, Todd owns a lawn and landscaping business. So thankfully for me, that means free labor for boosting curb appeal (which also boosts your property value). But really, landscaping is easy and anyone can do it. So much easier than most DIY projects like learning to hang drywall. The biggest money saver though is buying young plants at places like Lowes and Home Depot. They have a yr warrenty (so save your reciept) and in just a few years, it'll look just as good as the plants you want to pay 4X as much for at the nursery! Here is a prime example!

This was the picture in the listing for our house. It had sat on the market empty for close to a year! It was UGLY! Original landscape from 1979 and hadn't beentouched since then. The beds wre overgrown, no mulch had been laid, even the weeping cherry was growing into the roof of the house! This was March 2007.

That same weekend we started removing the landscaping because it was just so ugly. That July, we gave the house a fresh coat of paint, got some new shutters and new lighting. We also took down the giant tree. Then in Oct 2007, after any threat of drought had passed, we put in the new landscape. We watched out for end of the year auctions and got some killer deals on a few plants. We also found hostas and daylillies for free on Craigslist. Note how small the plants in the landscape were at the time we planted them! But we had faith!
This is our landscape now, just two and a half years later. And this is after a good pruning where Todd cut everything back to size. The trees, both the weeping cherry and maple are doing great. The daylillies and hostas are already going to have to be divided this coming fall ad the hollys are growing tons of berries now. The privets along the garage were going crazy but considering they can be used for privacy, we cut then back quite considerably to keep them from getting overgrown.
An addition this spring was the small retaining wall around the weeping cherry. This fall we hope to get a nice size bed built around the maple tree extending towards the front left corner of the house.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Our First Garden

I've wanted a garden for years and finally the timing was right. We started falling in love with fresh from the garden vegtables last year after tending our neighbors garden for two weeks while they went to Florida. We also saw the joy Luke got from picking the tomatoes. We figured now was a perfect time to give gardening a shot! I did a lot of reading and decided the Square Foot Garden method seemed to be most kind to beginners. Todd still has a very "half cup empty" outlook on this whole garden thing, so I'm really hoping we get some beautiful produce from it!

Here is our three raised beds. Two on the ends are 4'x4' and the one in the middle is 3'x6'. Todd made them from composite decking leftover from our deck project last fall. They turned out great! And the grids were made from the roping we used to measure of the deck as well, so another free item w had around the house! I ordered most of our seeds from Seed Saver Exchange, but I must admit I never got around to starting seeds indoors. Being pregnant with #3 has me totally worn out. So I did have to buy a few seedlings from the local garden center, but all in all, we're still on plan.

Bed #1 on May 1st. This bed is planted with Amish snap peas, strawberries, Longfellow cucumbers, spinach and lettuce. I also have a border of dill and oregano by the cucumber, thyme by the strawberries, and marigolds by the peas. These are supposed to naturally ward off harmful bugs and disease.

Bed #2 is now a disaster and needs to be replanted....hence the reason I'm using photos from May 1st! This bed contained sweet onions, red onions, shallots, garlic, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. There is a border of oregano around the cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli, a dill border by the onions and broccoli, and rosemary by the cauliflower. Problem? I got a little cocky. Our neighbors have had gardens for years and had no problem with animals eating the seedlings. So, I figured why go to the extra effort, it'll be fine! Wrong! Sometime between Friday and Saturday, a rabbit ate all the broccoli/cauliflower/cabbage! Some of it is totally gone, some is just the stems eaten all the way to the soil. Not even sure if it's worth replanting these at this point with the temperatures getting warmer. But I can tell you....chicken wire is being wrapped around every single bed this week! I'm not opening a buffet line for nature!

Bed #3 still needs to be finished, but will eventually be planeted with carrots, lettuce, golden zuchinni, Kentucky Wonder pole beans, empress beans, Black Beauty eggplant, and more garlic. This bed also has a border of marigolds by the eggplant.

We still have a lot to do not only for our vegtable garden but also the gardening for all my flowers around the house, so this weeks to do list is rather long. I hope my energy returns as I cruise into second trimester towards the end of this week.

-put chicken wire around all beds
-make trellis out of cow panel or cement rebar for peas, beans, and cucumber
-set up trelis along house for pumpkins, melons, and more zuchinni
-drill holes in galvanized tubs/rubbermaid tub/strawberry buckets for drainage
-finish planting in bed #3, containers, strawberry bucket, potatoes in rubbermaid tub and along house
-put flowers in planters and hanging baskets around the house (thankfully I bought these all over the weekend, just need to plant them!)