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Fall crops and crop rotations

I planted rutabaga seeds today for a fall crop. I completely blanked on what else I can plant as a fall crop. So I went to the internet. The following is some of the info I found. Also, as I’m planting the fall crop, I’m planting them according to a simple crop rotation to keep my soil and garden healthy. I’ve included sample crop rotations that I’ve found.

Fall Crops

HumeSeeds.com has some good info on fall crops and when to plant. According to them, now (mid-July) is the time to plant beets, carrots, rutabagas, onions, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, fava beans, cabbages, and cauliflowers. They also have a list of crops to plant in August and mid-September.

RareSeeds.com has fall crop suggestions on their home page. Makes it easy for shopping. Just bought some squashes, garlic, spinach, and arugula for my fall crops.:)

Mother Earth News has a great article about planting and growing fall crops. According to them you should start your fall crops indoors (oops!) just like you did with the spring crops to give them not as hot conditions for germination. They also say to provide some shade to protect the young seedlings from the hot sun when they’re in the garden.

Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is planting families of plants in sequence (each year or season) in the same space to help improve the soil and keep pests and diseases at bay. The crop rotation I’m following is pretty basic: roots->fruits->leaf->legume. But I’ve been reading about more complicated rotation schedules that I might want to try in the future.

Mother Earth News has a great article about crop rotation. One take away from it is the Eliot Coleman rotation:

tomato family->peas->cabbages->sweet corns->potatoes->squashes->root crops->beans.

It makes sense to increase the time between crop families in a rotation, I just don’t have the space right now to implement this.

Using both these ideas, I planted (or will plant):

  • rutabaga where the European Mesclun Mix was
  • beets where the spinach was
  • arugula where the sweet peppers were
  • garlic where the peanuts were
  • onions where the borage is
  • spinach where the carrots were
  • carrots where the mustard was
  • cover crop everywhere else

I love the idea of multiple seasons a year to grow crops.

-Lorelei

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Added two new fruit trees

I’ve been visiting the nursery again. It seems I can’t walk away without buying some great plant or two. I went to the nursery to ask a question about a weeping pussy willow tree in my front yard that I’d bought from them. I walked out with two more trees. I seem to have no resistance when it comes to buying plants. Is there a support group for that?

One tree was a columnar tangy green apple. It’ll grow up to 8-10 feet high and 2′ wide. Supposedly the apples are a lot like granny smith apples. My kids will love that. They had several varieties of columnar apple trees ( tasty red, golden treat, and blushing delight) at the nursery. I really love the idea of these columnar trees. I’m going to see how this one does and if it does good then I’m going back and getting more.

The other tree was a dwarf peach. It’ll only get around 6′ high and 6′ wide. I bought this because I wanted another fruit tree, other than apple, and it can self pollinate (meaning I only need one).

I don’t feel guilty about purchasing these. I had cleared away some brush on one side of my yard, freeing up some nice sunny space. (That’s where I discovered the mulberry tree.) So, I have the space for them.

I still haven’t cleared all the brush out on that side of the yard. Dreaming of what else I could put there….

-Lorelei

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Garden/homestead doings

I’ve been busy doing stuff. Haven’t we all?;) Now, get your minds out of the gutters. The stuff I’m referring to is homestead related stuff. I’ve been: adding plants to the garden, adding supports for those plants, putting in protections, setting mouse traps, weeding, harvesting, making plans, and enjoying watching everything grow.

There was a sale at the local big box home improvement store. So, I picked up some more plants for the garden. I got a curly leaf parsley, flat leaf parsley, black cherry tomato, rhubarb, and lemon balm. For $2.00 a plant, I couldn’t resist.

Black cherry tomato

Black cherry tomato

I haven’t had much luck with tomatoes. In the past I’ve started them from seeds (inside, well before last frost date), but they just wouldn’t ripen before the first frost. I wasn’t going to grow one this year, even though I drooled all over the pages of tomatoes in the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog. I love tomatoes. My eldest might eat a tomato every once in a while, but it is a long time between whiles. So, essentially no one else in my family will eat tomatoes. With all this in mind I didn’t buy seeds. I didn’t even plan a space for tomatoes in the garden bed.

Well, when I saw this black cherry tomato on sale for $2.00 I couldn’t resist. The black cherry tomato was one of the tomatoes in the catalog I was particularly drooling over. Of course, this tomato didn’t just cost me $2. I had to get a pot and a tomato cage for it. I choose a nice pretty blue, self watering pot and a contrasting orange colored cage. Turns out the cage was too tall for the pot. So I switched it out for the green one I had set around my peas.  With this plant being already well grown I hope it’ll ripen in time. All the ones I started from seed before were never this big by this time of year. Finger’s crossed!

I put the parsley’s and lemon balm in cinderblock holes in the garden bed. I think with the addition of these three things I now have something planted in every cinderblock hole. Though I’m still waiting for some of them to come up. Those spots only look empty<—I keep having to remind myself of that. I see those empty seeming holes and want to fill them with something.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

I made a small raised bed for the rhubarb at one end of the berry patch. I used stones found on my property to make the bed. I’ve read that rhubarb likes cooler weather so I’m not sure how well this’ll do here. Where I grew up everyone grew rhubarb. We had several plants around our yard. I used to snap off a stalk or two and eat them as a snack while playing outside. Since this was for sale here, I’m hoping it’ll grow. I don’t know, might be too much to wish for, but for $2 I couldn’t resist.

That small patch of dirt to the lower left, outside the corner of the stones, is where I transplanted some wild garlic that was growing where I put the small rhubarb bed. I’m not sure why I did that since we have that stuff growing everywhere. Maybe my thought was since I was purposely putting it there it would be a dedicated patch of wild garlic for harvesting? I don’t know.

Thornless blackberry

Thornless blackberry

I bought a thornless blackberry bush from a local nursery. Though, I was hoping to find a thorned, normal type. I could have sworn I’d seen some for sale somewhere, but just couldn’t find one. I looked at the big box stores and the nursery. Maybe I started my search too late and they were all sold out. This was the very last blackberry bush at the nursery. That was one of the reasons I bought it. The other being that I wanted to start growing blackberries and didn’t want to wait another year. Maybe next year I’ll find a thorned variety and be able to add it to the berry patch.

I added this one to the berry patch. After that I put up stakes and tied garden twine between them at different heights to support the blackberry and raspberry bushes. I might change this out to another support if they start to grow really big and bushy.

Copper tape around the bed and tomato pot

Copper tape around the bed and tomato pot

I put pest protections in the garden today. I installed copper tape. I’ve found I have to do this since I found a snail in my garden a couple of times. I’ve read snails and slugs don’t like to cross copper so I bought some copper tape and put it around my garden bed–and the tomato pot, just in case. It was pretty easy to put on. I just pushed it firmly in place with my fingers as I ran it along the edge of the garden bed. Then I went over it again, but this time firmly pushing with a small plastic tag (like the type that close bread bags you get when you buy bread from the store) to get rid of air bubbles and flatten any folds. I used that tag because it was the same width of the copper tape, 1/2 inch.  I did the same around the tomato pot. I hope it works.

Peanuts coming up

Peanuts coming up, before the roosters got to them.

Protecting the peanuts

Protecting the peanuts from the chickens.

I found most of my peanuts pulled out of the ground this afternoon. I know they were in the ground earlier today because I was showing them to my youngest earlier today. I think my neighbor’s chickens did it since they were in the back yard when I got home from picking up my eldest from school. (That is a big giveaway.) Plus some of the spinach next to the peanuts were torn up.

They only ate the actual peanuts, not the green plants growing between the peanut halves. So, I replanted them hoping they’ll be able to recover from being pulled up. Then I put a wire cage over them and put a rock on top to, hopefully, discourage the chickens from displacing the cage. BTW: the cage is actually a metal wire basket I got from the dollar bins at Target. I bought a couple of them to use for when I build the root cellar. Guess I’m getting use out of them before then.

I also put the row cover back over the whole garden to protect all the rest of the plants from those darned chickens. I don’t want to keep the row cover on the garden all the time so I guess it is time to go get the tulle/netting cover.The tulle/netting should let in more light and rain than the row cover. Just need to price them to see which is cheaper.

Mouse traps I bought.

Mouse traps I bought.

Speaking of raiding pests. I bought some mouse traps to catch the mouse that raided my basement pantry. Being a bleeding heart I don’t want to kill a mouse (now if my cats want to volunteer and kill it, I’m all for it). So, I bought these live catch mouse traps. I baited them with peanut butter and put them on the shelves. We’ll see if they actually work. I’m going to check the traps everyday to see if it has been caught.

In the meantime, I still haven’t gotten an enclosed shelving unit to replace the open shelves I’m currently using. The enclosed ones I’ve found are too expensive and/or too big for the space. I’m still thinking about just building one myself. I just need to figure out how I would build one. At first thought I seems like it would be something simple to do, but then I start thinking about it and how it would go together and…probably making it more complicated than it really is.

Speaking of bothersome things. There is this nasty thorny vine that keeps trying to grow in my yard. I have no idea what it is, but it grows very fast (seems to be a foot a day). It grows straight up and tries to choke whatever tree it is growing next to. Well, today, I declared war with it. I noticed there is a big patch of it growing behind my property in no man’s land. It is growing up into the trees back there and looks horrendous. And trying to spread to my property. It was so bad back there it looked almost like a brier patch! I climbed over the back fence with a pair of leather gloves and the clippers and went to town on it. I emerged a couple of hours later a bit scratched up and with hair sticking out wildly, but I got it all. I even got the stuff over in the area behind my neighbor’s house, not just behind my own. I’m going to try to keep track of it and not let it get to the point I found it in today.

Red potatoes coming up.

Red potatoes coming up (the little green things in the foreground).

Russet potatoes looking good.

Russet potatoes looking good.

I’ve been really enjoying watching everything coming up and growing. I go out to the garden every morning to check for pests, weeds, and admire how the plants grow. Since I’ve never grown most of what I planted this year this is all new to me. I think my kids are sick of me saying, “Look at how the _____ is growing! Isn’t that cool!?” Even if they are, I’m still going to show them.

Yesterday, I harvested some spinach, mesclun mix, mustard, and two small radishes (eating the radishes and putting the greens in with the other greens I was harvesting) and made myself a small salad for lunch. Put a little vinagrette on it and it was delicious. I didn’t even really notice the spiciness of them this time.

Having this garden is really making me want more. Today, I started planning to expand. I did some sample layouts in the yard, using the garden hose, of where I’m thinking of putting another garden bed. I’m going to show my husband what I want to do and hopefully he’ll see it will still leave lawn area for play. I’m already dreaming of what I want to put in it.

Well, hope this post wasn’t rambling too much. I just had a lot to say today.

-Lorelei

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The Beginning

Welcome to my blog!

This is to record my attempts towards being more self-reliant in an urban setting. I have dreams of turning my small patch of land into a productive space using permaculture principles.

This is my first time blogging so please bear with me as I figure out how to add images (unsuccessful so far for this post), remember my grammar, and get the words and ideas from my head (where they seem so eloquent) to this page (where the come out reading like a tech manual for how to chew gum).

Thank you for reading this and I hope to have something more for you very soon.

-Lorelei

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