Posts Tagged With: raised garden bed

We would starve (this is also about growing potatoes)

Today, after harvesting this meager potato crop, I came to the conclusion that my family would starve to death if we were forced to rely on my garden as it is now. I know this is my first year intentionally gardening/producing food, but it is still quite the eye opener for me how little food I’m getting from my garden. But I have plans to improve so hopefully we won’t starve if it ever came down to it.

Whole harvest from Russet potatoes and red potatoes I planted.

This is the whole harvest from the Russet potatoes and red potatoes I planted.

Growing more potatoes

This coming winter I will make potato towers to grow potatoes next summer. Using potato towers is a method of growing potatoes to get higher yields. I hope to build something like in this YouTube video. The idea is to keep adding soil to your potato plant as it grows. The tower contains the soil you keep adding. The plant will produce new roots/potatoes from the buried parts of the stem.

I’ve heard this method doesn’t work with all potato varieties. According to Veggie Gardener.com and Sinfonian’s Garden the best performing potatoes using this method are late season varieties like German Butterball, Butte, Yellow Fin, and Bintje. Veggie Gargener.com also has instructions for building a potato tower.

Expanding the garden to get more produce (so we wouldn’t starve)

In addition to building potato towers, I’m hoping to build a couple more garden beds.

I’m still hoping to make another raised bed next to the raised bed I already have. I already have plans in my head for the new bed. It will be (once I am able to convince my husband to let me take that space for gardening) a U-shaped bed with more than double the growing space than the bed I have.

I’m, also, working on plans to build a garden bed in the front yard for growing food. My front yard gets much more sunlight than my back yard. I’m hoping to have it multi-tiered with ornamental plants in front (closest to the street) shielding the edibles. My plan is to grow pretty edibles, like amaranth, there.

I’m also planning on expanding the berry patch. Adding more raspberries and blackberries.

For now, I’m just glad we aren’t reliant on my gardening efforts for our sustenance… and that there are grocery stores. Hope your gardens are producing more than mine.

-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

Categories: garden, garden protection, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Singing in the rain

We’ve gotten a lot of rain today and more, severe, storms are expected tonight. It was raining so much today we had standing pools of water in the yard, even right next to the garden. I’m really glad I switched to a raised garden bed. An in ground one would have been flooded today.

I’m loving the rain. By the mud splattered all over my kids I think they were loving the rain, too. And I’m sure my garden is too, but parts of my garden are looking a bit beaten down. My beets and swiss chard are looking particularly beat down.

Beets and swiss chard

Beets and swiss chard looking a bit flattened.

Since severe storms are expected overnight tonight I decided protect the garden by putting on the row cover. I remembered seeing a picture on Pinterest of someone using pieces of hose to attach covers to pvc hoops and decided to try it. I cut up an old garden hose that I’d accidentally cut while weeding a while ago- and never thrown away. I guess I can get a bit overzealous in weeding and am a bit of a packrat. The hose walls were quite thick so I used a tin snip to cut it. The hose segments fit over the cover and pvc quite perfectly.

Garden with row cover on.

Garden with row cover on using hose segments to attach to the pvc hoops.

The row cover is 20 feet long by 5 feet wide. Well, five feet isn’t wide enough to go completely over the hoops. I had to get creative. I decided cut the row cover and piece it back together. Unfortunately, as you can see in the photo above, even then it still wasn’t enough to completely cover the garden. The open section you see is on the lee side of the garden so I’m hoping this’ll be okay.

I needed to attach the top section to the side sections. And the side section to the side section. So I used a method I’d seen used in Native American tipis. I cut segments of straight branches from the honeysuckle growing in my yard. (I use honeysuckle because, since it tries very hard to take over my whole yard, I use any excuse to cut it back. And it is pretty strong and straight.) Then I used the tin snips to cut small holes in the row cover and stuck the sticks through. Weaving them in and out, a bit like sewing. What do you think? Is there a better way to attach the pieces? Besides actually sewing with needle and thread?;)

Attachment

Pieced together.

I overlapped the side sections and wove them together at both ends of the overlap. Maybe overkill, but I didn’t want them coming apart.

Stick attachment

Close up of the stick weaving.

Row cover pieced together.

Row cover pieced together.

I hope it holds through the expected storms. Fingers crossed!

UPDATED after the storm, the next morning: The hose pieces and sticks held through the storm! And the beets and swiss chard are looking better.

The row cover after the storm. Most of it held. Only a couple of the hose pieces fell off.

The row cover after the storm. Most of it held. Only a couple of the hose pieces fell off.

-Lorelei

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The garden is growing!

Yeah! The plants in my garden are doing what they should. Most have germinated and are growing. I want to share it with you.

Here are the radishes. You can see the bulbs sticking up from the soil. Growing quite nicely in both locations in the garden.

The radishes. Cute radish tops.

Radishes. Cute seeing the radish tops peeking above the soil.

The little green sticks in the background, to the left of the radishes, is the corn coming up! And to the right is the salad mix. When it gets a little bigger I’m going to start harvesting the leaves. In the foreground is cucumber. One little seedling is poking out from the peat pot I sowed it in and then put in the ground.

Here are the russet potatoes. I’m excited to see the greens starting to come up. You can’t quite see it in the photo, but there are three stalks of greenish purple potato sticking up from the soil. The little plant to the right, closest to the camera is the biggest potato plant. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the potatoes, having never grown it before. I used an organic russet potato from my kitchen that had started to sprout. I just cut it up into pieces with a couple sprouts per piece and planted them.

Russet potatoes coming up.

Russet potatoes coming up.

The big plant in the background is borage. I’ve never tried growing it before, but everything I’ve read about it made me want to try it this year. Its pretty blue flowers and leaves are edible. The leaves are supposed to have a cucumber-like flavor and the flowers a honey-like flavor.

Here’s the whole garden with the hoops installed!

Garden growing!

Garden growing!

Garden growing.

Garden growing.

It seems the yellow bell pepper seeds I bought are duds. None of them have germinated. I’ve been trying to get the seeds to germinate since January. Every week I plant more seeds (at first inside and now outside) and not one has germinated. It is disappointing since I bought them from a reputable seed distributor.

Oh, I just discovered while making this post that I can make my photos different sizes in the posts! So cool! Expect more different sized photos in future posts.

-Lorelei

Categories: garden | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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