Lasagna’s Almost Done…

sb158 | March 24, 2011

lasagnas-almost-done

So we have been house-hunting, and even put an offer on a place. Don’t think we got it, though…there was a previous offer, and we really didn’t want to get into a bidding war and pay a price we’d regret down the line. Liked the house and yard, but there’ll be another down the road. We just have to keep looking.

We really are looking, though, because the grandsons keep getting weird symptoms and nobody really feels well. We’ve been doing some research; it seems like formaldehyde could be causing all of the weird stuff. I still don’t know what to do about the garden, because I have no idea how long it will take to find a house.

Meanwhile, between all the real-life distractions, I’ve been planting the lasagna bed in bits and pieces. So far I’ve got 3 tomato plants, some Genovese Basil, parsley, chamomile, marjoram, and 2 bell peppers. I’ve planted black-eyed pea, lima bean, and peanut seeds. They are partly for eating, but also for nitrogen fixing. Why not let some plants fertilize other plants? And I’ve always wondered how peanuts grow. Still have more to plant in there, and I’m getting to it as I can.

Took a couple pics today; pardon the paper sticking out from under the mulch. After the seeds sprout and grow a bit, I’ll cover it all over with more bark mulch so it’s pretty again. Pine mulch has the unfortunate habit of falling down and covering the spots where the seeds are planted.


Lasagna bed


Lasagna bed

My sister-in-law wanted some details, so…
I started by marking a 5′ diameter circle where I wanted the bed. That’s enough room for a bunch of plants, but not too big to reach the middle. After I wet the ground, I stuck a digging fork every few inches to crack the concrete. Then I put down a bit of organic fertilizer and covered the circle with cardboard. Soaked the cardboard real well, then put on a thin layer of dirt to hold it down. After that, I started layering. First layer was some of my unfinished compost, about 1.5″, topped by another 1.5″ of composted manure. Covered that with a layer of shredded paper and soil conditioner, then a 2″ layer of topsoil. Sprinkled some fertilizer on that and soaked all the layers thoroughly. Then I repeated the layers until the whole mess was about a foot deep. After that I made sure to soak it all thoroughly using the milk jugs to be sure it moistened all the way through. Waited a few days to let it all settle, then started planting. To plant in it, I mix up a good potting-type mix with some fertilizer, then dig a hole bigger than I need. Fill that around the plant and water in well, and you’re good to go. To plant seeds, I basically stick the trowel in and rock it back and forth to make a hole, fill that with the potting mix, and plant the seeds in that. So far it’s working.

Keep-It-Alive-Till-Harvest Mode

sb158 | June 26, 2010

keep-it-alive-till-harvest-mode

We’ve had three weeks of temps in the mid-to-high nineties, with humidity to match, and heat advisories all the time. You can imagine what that does to a garden. I’m babying most things along until I can harvest whatever’s still surviving out there. Cukes and watermelon in the containers have just about had it. I do have several cantaloupes almost ready to harvest, and keep checking every day to see if any are ripe. The Gold Bar Melons do keep chugging along, but even they are looking a bit weather-worn. They better taste good, because they have set a bunch of fruit. My volunteer tomatoes still have a bunch of fruit ripening, even set a few new fruits.

Haven’t gotten so much as one zucchini; I think it’s a pollination problem, or the heat. I do hand pollinate, but still no fruit set. No green beans, either. They either get some dreadful disease and die, or something eats all the blossoms and half the leaves before I see green bean one. I did plant some Contender bush beans that are still looking good; I’m still holding out hope. Probably futile, but you have to be an optimist to try and garden, especially down here!

The jalapenos, on the other hand, seem to be enjoying the heat. Got several fruit, which is way more than I had last year! The Fruit Basket bells in the hanging baskets even have a few fruits.

So all is not lost, but it’s still very discouraging. I think that I’m done with self-watering containers. Haven’t had much luck at all to date. I’ll probably do like Annie’s Granny and use them in the raised beds like she has. They might work for a fall garden, but the summer heat is just too much for any plant to survive.

Still house-hunting, too, which kind of messes up fall garden plans. Don’t want to start fall veggies, only to have to either haul baby plants if we do find a house, or leave perfectly good veggies in the garden. What would you do?

Not much else to say, I guess. I’m pretty much in “Survive-Till-Cooler-Weather” mode myself. I have had quite enough summer already, even though it’s just barely started. Sigh…

Did you say kvas?

sb158 | June 1, 2010

did-you-say-kvas

I know it’s been too long. I have been gardening – in the 90+ heat and humidity – which is why I haven’t been blogging. When I’m done for the day, all I want is a shower and a rest! Still house-hunting, too. We’ve seen some nice houses, just not “THE” house yet.

Lots going in in the garden, as you’d expect this time of year.

The volunteer tomatoes keep pumping out fruit; I’ve collected more than 4 3/4 lbs of tomatoes so far. And they taste so good! My under-the-shade lettuce is still hanging in there, but I doubt for much longer. Now that I’ve gotten rid of the stupid little green caterpillars and the snails, we actually get to eat some of it.

BTW, that Sluggo snail and slug stuff works. I’m finding dead snails all over the place.

I have a few cukes almost ready to pick, some zucchini getting there, and even a watermelon, some cantaloupes, and another kind of melon coming along. Would have had some green beans, but bean borers keep getting into them.

Oh, if you’re still wondering…in my previous two posts, I mentioned using Gold Bond medicated powder to dust the cucumber and melon leaves to keep the cucumber beetles from killing them. It sure seems to work. We had a couple of rains, which washed it off. If I forgot to reapply, I had holes in the leaves. This reminded me very quickly, for sure. I kept the plants dusted for about two weeks, then decided to stop and see what happened. They must have migrated to somebody else’s garden, because I haven’t found any new holes in several days.

I planted another succession square of bush beans recently. One day I noticed ants crawling up the stems from under the mulch, and the poor seedling looked nearly sucked dry and dead. Next day, I noticed the ants on the next bean seedling over. I happened to have the powder in my hand, so I just dumped some down around the stems of the affected plants. Figured it would annoy the ants, if nothing else. Let me tell you, they did not like that at all. Acted like I had dumped poison on them. So naturally I dumped some around the stems of the rest of the beans too. No more problems with ants in the beans. Cool, huh? Too late for the first two seedlings, but the rest are okay so far.

I still wander on over to Gardenweb every so often. Popped in on the Organic Gardening forum recently and saw a post titled One of the best recipe 2. I figured any topic that needed two threads had to be interesting, so started reading at the beginning. The Original Poster is a girl in Russia, who uses a traditional Russian drink she calls kvas to water her plants. It’s essentially 6 Tbsp rye flour, 2 Tbsp molasses mixed in a gallon of water from which you have let the nasty stuff evaporate for 24 hrs. You put it in a closed jug, shake it frequently, and do not open for 3 days. The stuff ferments into something that Russians swear is very healthy for you to drink. Apparently plants think so too.

I gave it a try, thinking it surely couldn’t hurt. Go read the thread(s) and decide for yourself, but I gotta tell you, my garden sure seems to love the stuff. I foliar feed it at 1 cup per gallon in my sprayer, sometimes combining with cornmeal tea, baking soda spray, or garlic/pepper tea as necessary, about twice a week so far. Plants looks so much greener, seem more able to handle the heat, and seem to be making more fruit than previously. All in all, the garden is doing much better (knock on wood) than it did last year.

In conjunction with our house-hunting, I’ve been doing lots of garden-related reading to help me decide what kind of a garden I want when we actually do get a house. Yes, I’m still daydreaming about it…

I’ve come across some very interesting ideas, about which I will post soon. Until then…

So The Veggies Are Growing…

sb158 | May 14, 2010

so-the-veggies-are-growing

I’ve been trying to update all week, but things have been blowing around too much. We’ve had 35-40 mph winds all week, with occasional gusts even higher. It’s hard to get decent pics in all that wind. The wind finally “calmed down” to 20-25 mph today, so took quick pics between gusts…
Pics and more inside

First Ripe Tomato, Bean Flowers, and a UFO…

sb158 | May 4, 2010

first-ripe-tomato-bean-flowers-and-a-ufo

Woo hoo! I managed to save my first ripening tomato from marauding mockingbirds by the timely application of bird netting, and picked it yesterday. It’s not a real big tomato, but it’s the first this year, and it’s mine!

Pics and more inside

Flood Watches, T-Storms, and Bug Issues

sb158 | April 17, 2010

flood-watches-t-storms-and-bug-issues

I mentioned in my previous post that we’d had rain all week. Up until yesterday, it was nice gentle showers with some space between. Since yesterday, we’ve had some toad-stranglers and really loud boomers. Up to 3″ an hour; flash flood watches and warnings all over the place. I’m hoping it stops soon, before it drowns my entire garden. Feast or famine around here, I guess.
In between floods, I’ve been running out to check on things. My poor swiss chard is being consumed by snails and God-only-knows what else. I have to get some Sluggo, ASAP. I spotted what looked like a cucumber beetle (I think) before it flew away today. While I was snail-hunting, I spotted some icky-looking stuff on the backs of the chard leaves. Looks like eggs of some sort, but I have no idea what. I’m posting a few pics, in hopes that somebody knows what they are and how to fix it. Don’t want to kill them if they are eggs of some beneficial bug.

So, any ideas?
Pics and More Within

Blooming, Planting Out, and Dividing

sb158 | April 3, 2010

blooming-planting-out-and-dividing

Since today was marginally cooler, breezy, and, most helpful, fairly overcast, I decided it might be a good day to plant out the baby cukes and watermelon that have sprouted so far. Keeps them out of the hot sun while they settle. Planted out Marketmore and Tender Green burpless cukes and Crimson Sweet watermelon. I put all the sprouted seedling of each in the containers; if they all survive the move, I’ll thin in a few days. Despite the clouds, I still covered them with the cube-things to keep the sun off and minimize wind damage.

Mouseover to see bigger pic.


Baby Marketmore cukes

Then I decided I’d divide the mums (yea, I know, should’ve been done ’round about February) while I was taking advantage of the clouds. I bought two cushion mums last fall (clearance is a wonderful thing); they bloomed themselves out and grew all winter. Pretty much took over the container. Hate do do this, but to divide, you gotta massacre all those pretty mums-to-be. It actually hurt… Here’s a couple “before” pics:

And then (Guh! Feel like Norman Bates here) I took the pruners to all those buds. Still wincing. Here’s an after:

Dug out the plants; divided the yellow mum into 2 plants, but the burgundy mum seems more vigorous. Divided that one into 4 little plants. Now they look like this:

Thought about this last night when I should have been sleeping. Decided the mums would look nice in a 24″ window box with the extra gazanias I transplanted a few days ago. So here they are in the new home:

I put the other two new mums in gallon pots, then moved pots and box to a shady spot and started praying I didn’t kill anything.

Meanwhile, I put one of each back in the original pot. See, plenty of room for more plants now:

So, more it is. I planted a couple Scarlet Runner, French Filet, and KY Wonder pole beans in the back. Put a couple Hestia half-runner beans in front to (hopefully) trail nicely down the pot, then stuck in a few Medinah bush beans behind the mums. No idea if mums make good companions for beans. We shall see what we shall see.

The red Nikki Mix nicotiana is blooming. While I’m talking about annuals, I’d recommend you try the pink Laura Bush petunia (pics here) I got from Wildseed Farms. The catalog description says “Very low maintenance and forgives neglect.” and “Flowers are delightfully fragrant.” Both are true. They grew all winter with no help from me, and they smell absolutely wonderful. If I’d known they were such great flowers, I’d have planted a bunch more. You better believe I will come fall.

I think I’ve rambled on long enough for one day. TTYL…

I REALLY hate those little

sb158 | July 12, 2009

i-really-hate-those-little

(insert vile epithet of choice)______________. Fire ants, I mean. Bungled into two separate nests of the little _______ yesterday, with very unpleasant consequences. I’ve mentioned before that the french filet pole beans weren’t doing well, but I don’t think I mentioned the sick zucchini. It’s in one of the containers by the arbor thingy, and it’s only grown a few leaves and two male blossoms since I planted it before I went to Colorado. Whoever heard of a zucchini NOT growing, at least before the squash vine borers get it? So I decided to pull out the french failures and try some scarlet runner beans. I started to move the mulch away to plant the seeds, and was viciously attacked. Got away with only two bites that time; not so bad. I read somewhere that ants don’t like molasses, so I poured about a cup of molasses into a gallon of water and drenched the container with it. I also dumped a bit of Amdro in there. The ants might explain the sickly zucchini and failing beans, at least in part.
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Picnic Tables and Garden Progress

sb158 | July 9, 2009

picnic-tables-and-garden-progress

I told my daughter I’d take a pic of Hubby’s (almost) finished picnic table, so here it is, Jen:

Mouseover to see bigger pic; click the thumb to see the really big pic.


Just needs to be stained and it’ll be done. Already had a couple offers to buy it, too!

 

As for the garden, just been keeping up with the routine chores. It’s been hot, so watering is critical, and been cleaning aphids off my peppers every other day. Been cleaning them off everything, actually, but they seem to really like the peppers.

Got a few more cukes coming along, one will probably be ready tomorrow, the other the next day, and more shortly thereafter. I did harvest an actual ripe Heatwave tomato, too, and more are starting to ripen. The Silvery Fir Tree tomatoes are a major disappointment. The tomatoes are tiny, and split every time we get a little rain shower. Admittedly, that’s all too rare, but still…

As soon as the few tomatoes left on the plants ripen, I’m pulling them out and replacing them with another variety of bush tomato I started a few days ago. They haven’t even sprouted yet, and won’t be ready for a while, but I’m hoping they’ll do better than the others.

And now a few pics of garden progress since my last post:

 

The Kentucky Wonder pole beans I planted to grow up the arbor thingy are finally doing so. The french filet pole beans are not doing well at all, and the bush beans are even worse. The Contender beans bit the dust a while ago. They look like they have some sort of disease, and something still keeps eating just the leaves. KY Wonder have some disease resistance, so that may be why they are doing better. I bought some bush beans that have good disease resistance, and have them germinating in paper towels at the moment. I’ll put them out soon as they sprout. The other ones will probably end up being my post for Garden Blogger’s Death Day this month.

As if keeping up with the watering, harvesting, and debugging weren’t enough, it’s already time to be planning my fall garden. I’m supposed to have planted tomato and pepper seeds to put out come late August for my fall garden. I did start the tomato seeds, but am undecided on the peppers. Mine are just now starting to blossom and fruit, and should last until frost, if we ever actually ever get one. Unless, of course, the aphids eat them before then! If I start more, I may have to pull producing plants; if I don’t and the aphids kill them I’m SOL. What would you do?

I have to be thinking about all the cool season crops, like lettuce, parsley, potatoes, etc, and still find room for the fall hot weather crops. Gonna be a tricky juggling act, for sure. Then there are all the perennials I want to start, too…and the herbs…Oy, giving myself a headache thinking about it!

That’s about all the garden news, so here’s a personal note…

Today is my middle daughter’s birthday, so Happy Birthday, Chrissy!

My son and his girlfriend were here from the Thursday before the 4th until yesterday. He’s moving back here, as he’s applying to a local police force. My brother-in-law’s son has a relation on his wife’s side who is already a cop there, and he says they really need people. So I guess Mike will be staying until he actually gets hired, goes to the police academy, and actually starts working. Be nice having him here; he’s my “baby” and I like having him around – most of the time!

Whew! Think that’s just about enough for this post. Didn’t start out to write a novel; hope you didn’t get too bored!

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…)