It Actually Rained!!!

sb158 | March 8, 2011

it-actually-rained

Isn’t that amazing? Seriously, we haven’t had any significant rain in months, but a cool front came through Saturday morning. We got a good downpour, and things are looking much better for it. With this clay muck, it was too muddy after the rain to do anything garden – related.

Sunday I went to the local big blue box store, and bought some more “dirt” and stuff. Also bought a pink jasmine vine, but that was my daughter’s fault. She said it smelled really good and was really pretty. Then she said, and I quote, “You need this plant!” Who was I to argue with that? LOL…

I needed the dirt and stuff to start building a new bed. The “volunteer” tomato that sprouted ages ago in the compost is blossoming already; it’s ready for a permanent home! I looked at tomato stakes, but couldn’t believe the price they were charging! Why in the world do they think I’d be willing to pay $32.00 just to hold up a tomato plant? Was going to build a 4-sided cage, but changed my mind real fast! I have the PVC pipe from my arbor thingy, so I spray-painted 3 pieces green, and made a “tomato teepee” instead. Forgot to take pics today, but will try to remember tomorrow.

After I made the teepee, I marked out a 5′ circle, then dug a nice big 2′ wide and deep hole where I want to put the tomato. To fill it, I used the same 3″ alternating layers of greens, browns, and soil with which I make the lasagna beds. I’ll plant the tomato in the lasagna bed; the good stuff in the hole should give the tomato plenty to grow on!

I poked a bunch of holes in the circle with my digging fork, sprinkled on some organic amendments, then covered the circle with cardboard. I soaked it real well; tomorrow I can start building the “lasagna bed” around the tomato plant. I’m thinking the best way to go is to leave the tomato in its pot right where I’m going to plant it, then build the bed around it. Once the bed is done and settled a day or two, I’ll unpot the tomato and plop it right in it’s custom-fitted hole!

In keeping with the permaculture concept of diversifying plantings, and supplying a plant with what it needs, I’ll plant some flowers to attract beneficial insects, some nutrient accumulators and nitrogen-fixers to feed it, and something to act as a windbreak to keep that south wind from sucking the life out of the poor thing. Not entirely sure what will be the final bed configuration, but I hope I plant the right stuff to help the tomatoes grow!

For right now, tired from a long day in the garden, and planning another one tomorrow, so….

Gnite, y’all!

Melting, Paul James, and One-Straw-Revolutions

sb158 | June 6, 2010

melting-paul-james-and-one-straw-revolutions

Yea, I’m going to whine about the weather again. We’ve been under a heat advisory all weekend. It’s been miserable. Except for going out early morning and in the evening to water, the garden is on it’s own. I ain’t even going out there if I can avoid it. I even changed my desktop to rotating winter pictures for a psychological attempt at cooling off. Not working, but worth a try, right?

So far, nothing has died of heat stroke; I hope this mess ends SOON!

Okay, done whining; on to the important stuff. Have you ever watched Paul James, the Gardener Guy, on HGTV? He had the best garden show for real gardeners, but they dropped him and put on all those landscaping guys. All well and good to landscape your yard, but how do you grow all that stuff after the landscapers have gone? I found his website and went to check it out.

He mentions a book called “The One-Straw Revolution” by Masanobu Fukuoka that inspired his gardening and changed his life. In the course of looking for that book, I discovered a concept called Permaculture. The basic idea is to create a self-sustaining ecosystem of your own, similar to the way nature would do it, only quicker. It’s all tied up with Peak Oil, climate change, and ecological disaster. I can’t say as I believe all the dire predictions; after all, who even wants to think about the kind of world it will be if all that stuff actually happens? Just in case it is even remotely possible, I’m going to plan my garden at my new house, whenever we actually buy one, to mitigate the ugliness as much as possible. Self-sustaining homesteads can’t be a bad thing, right? If you want to find out more, you can download The One-Straw Revolution here in pdf format.

So, once I’d discovered the concept, I needed to find out how one creates such an ecosystem. The book “Gaia’s Garden – A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture” was recommended as being especially helpful. It has been an absolutely fascinating read! Download the pdf yourself and see. Gotta warn you, though, it is a big (34M) file. It tells you pretty much everything you’d need to know, in a very easily understood, entertaining style. You can buy both books, and countless more, all over the web. Gonna do that soon as I can!

If you’ve got the time and interest, a wander around all the permaculture links on the net can be very educational. Inspiring, too, when you see all the things these design principles can accomplish, like turning several acres of desert in the Dead Sea Valley into green, producing farms. Totally amazing!

Lovely, you say, but why post about it? Why not? It’s my blog, right? LOL. The point of all this is that, when we do finally find the right house, in the right place, I’m going to give this a try. I guess I’ll make a separate page for permaculture-related stuff, and try to document the process as we go along. Wish me luck!

More Blue & White, Watering, and Shopping

sb158 | April 10, 2010

more-blue-white-watering-and-shopping

Uh oh. Knew I shouldn’t have done it. But I had to. Needed to buy a dog chain that the puppy couldn’t break if tormented by evil cats, and it was just there. Couldn’t help it. It’s an addiction…

I bet you know what comes next. The garden dept at Lowe’s. Yup. Almost as bad as a book store. I needed stuff to make Al’s container mix, and a little batch of gritty mix for the herbs. When all was said and done, I spent about $80.00, cuz I needed seed-starting mix, vermiculite, perlite, orchid bark mix and on and on. Then of course there was the new hose nozzle – old one died – and, oh yea, the creeping lemon thyme, Provence lavender, marjoram, and rosemary I just had to have. And the garden magazine. And the seeds. Only 3 packs, I swear…SIGH…

To make things even worse, I had to lug all that potting soil, etc, to the truck cuz the helper lady was helping a lady even older than me. So I’m trying to manhandle that cart thing in the vague direction of my truck, and I wandered off without the bag with the dog chain in it. The whole reason (so I told myself) I went in the first place. Naturally I didn’t remember until I was pulling in the driveway, so I had to turn right around and go back after it. Was still there, no problem, but…

Oh well. Once I got home, I made a small batch of gritty mix and planted the herbs. I put the marjoram, lemon thyme, and creeping thyme I already had in one of the ceramic pots Hubby got me on clearance last fall, but I also took a little piece off each to try another experiment. Hubby bought one of those cheap little charcoal grills for something or other, but I think he only used it once. The top (pretty red) was just taking up space in the laundry room, so I took off the handles and grill supports, lined it with a piece of coco fiber mat to keep the soil marginally cooler, and filled that with gritty mix, too. I put the little pieces from the other herbs in it, and will plant the common thyme seeds I bought today, maybe tomorrow. We’ll see how that goes.

Once I got done with all that, it was getting dark, and I was starving. Forgot to eat lunch today, and breakfast was a long time ago. Called it quits for today, and made a left-over roasted chicken sandwich.

I know it ‘s way late, but one little corner of my raised bed is close enough to the house that it gets some shade even in summer. I had a foot or so of space once I pulled out the borage, so I decided to take a chance and plant some lettuce and spinach. Between the house and the swiss chard next to it, the spot may get enough shade to let them grow, at least for a while. Some of it’s already sprouting – so far, so good. Also planted some carrots. May not do well, but all it cost to try was a few seeds.

Just a couple flowers:

Tired and gotta get up early to ride to McAllen and have breakfast with Hubby’s nephew and his wife. That’s all she wrote, for now…

Hallelujah and Thank You

sb158 | June 23, 2009

hallelujah-and-thank-you

We’re finally getting some rain and (slightly) cooler temperatures! Not nearly as much as we need, but, at this point, I’m thankful for whatever we get. I expect my plants will grow a foot overnight!

Here are some pics I took about a week ago that show how much the garden had grown while I was in Colorado. Compare them to these pics.

Pics within (more…)

Squeaking In Under The Wire

sb158 | May 12, 2009

squeaking-in-under-the-wire

Whew! Can’t believe it, but I’ve worked my tush off and just about finished everything I needed to do before I leave for Colorado. Darn near killed myself out there working in that ridiculous heat, but I did get a nice tan out of it…

My shade arbor is done, SWCs filled and planted, including the pole bean seeds that are supposed to grow up the poles and shade my tomatoes.
Here’s a pic, (more…)

Plan B, Part I

sb158 | May 9, 2009

plan-b-part-i

It’s working! Cool!
I’ve mentioned that I had an idea for a shade arbor for my tomato SWC’s in previous posts. I got started on it today, and to my great surprise, it’s actually coming together just like I see it in my head.

This post is pretty image-heavy, as I’m posting pics of the W-I-P: (more…)

Got An Answer! Thanks, Jim.

sb158 | April 27, 2009

got-an-answer-thanks-jim

A very kind blog visitor identified my Mystery Shrub as Ruttya fruticosa. Found some cultural information here and here.

Apparently it’s easy to propagate by seeds or cuttings, so I may try that down the road some time. Got too much other stuff going on right now to deal with it.

Yesterday we went to brunch with my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and his son and wife. (more…)

Bean Cages and Lettuce Boxes

sb158 | April 25, 2009

bean-cages-and-lettuce-boxes

When I posted last night, I said I’d build a Bean Cage in the next few days, but I had to do it today. It’s been a while since I grew bush beans, and I forgot how fast they grow. When I checked on them today, the first sprouts had already grown as tall as the little green cages. My cage isn’t pretty, but I do hope it works.

Here are a couple pics of my pitiful-looking bean cage. (more…)

Trying To Keep Up With It All

sb158 | April 22, 2009

trying-to-keep-up-with-it-all

Whew! This is really the first chance I’ve had since I last posted to post again. I’ve either been busy doing, instead of writing, or too wiped to even type. That heat out there is gonna kill me yet, I swear.

I’ve been planting babies into the garden, like cukes, stevia, and bee balm, or tomatoes into SWCs. (more…)

Monster Mud

sb158 | April 2, 2009

monster-mud

No, not the Creature From The Black Lagoon, though he might well have been made of it. Monster Mud is Joint Compound mixed with latex paint. Burlap, or some other material, is then soaked with Monster Mud and applied to a form to make whatever you want with it.
I first read about it on the Hypertufa forum at Gardenweb, as I’d been thinking about making some containers with hypertufa. Googled it, and found some very interesting ideas. Check it out here.
Sounded alot easier than messing with concrete, so I figured, what the heck, I’ll try it. One of the forums I read said to use masonry sealer to waterproof it. I have no idea if it will work, but I’m having fun trying it.
Here are some pics I took of the WIP. Warning: This post is image-heavy. (more…)