Friday, December 3, 2010

A Day Before The First Snow

This may be the last post this year about the garden, unless I make it back there for some reason after it snows.  These pics were taken last night after work knowing that we will be getting our first snowfall of the season tonight.  I've heard anywhere from 2-6 inches when it's all done, so I guess we'll just see.  In the west garden the chives, thyme and parsley have been left for dead.  I'm not sure what will come back next year, but whatever does will probably be potted and controlled a little more than running wild in the garden.

The east garden, the strawberry patch, has been mulched with hay for the winter.  I did take the string trimmer out and we cut the tops off the plants, careful not to cut too much or damage the crowns.  Then we covered it in a layer of hay for the imminent winter snow cover.  It didn't take much, only 40 square feet of garden, so maybe half the package we bought from Ace.  I'm not sure what we will do with the hay in the spring.  I guess we'll see what it lookes like in the spring.  I'd like to say 'have a happy winter,' but I hate it too much.  So how's this; I hope you survive winter well!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Waiting For The Frost

I may be late posting but I did have my wife take these pics a few days ago, on the 16th.  I'm not sure how much longer I will continue these bi-monthly updates.  Maybe until I can walk out there myself, or snow...

Again a close up pic of the strawberry bed.  I'm becoming fearful that Kate doesn't want me to see the runners that have hit the lawn.  That's all I need, they would be like any other weed in my lawn.  I hope my leg finishes healing soon so I can walk back there myself.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Early October

Tis October and officially autumn now.  Kate has dried tons of herbs but there will be much gone to waste.  The chives are especially hard to dry.

The strawberry bed still looks lush and green.  That may change very soon.  If it didn't frost last night then it probably will tonight.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Nights Are Cooling

It's mid-September and the herbs are looking a bit overgrown.  Kate said she was going to pick the rest of the basil tonight.  Temps will be in the upper 40's overnight the next few nights.

The strawberry bed is still healthy.  It may be time to look up the best way to winterize the area.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Welcome to September

While I may be a bit incapacitated right now, the blog must go on!   Kate went out and took the pics for me this time.  As you can see it is nothing exciting, it's all just a bit bigger if anything.  The food dehydrator is working on a full batch of basil right now and earlier this afternoon (after these pics) a friend left with a big bag full of stuff.

The strawberry bed in the east garden is still looking good for next year.  Updates have been rather boring lately, but I'm still glad I'm doing it.  It's our first garden, after all.  I will probably continue this somewhat next year.  I'm sure we will be doing things a bit differently in the west garden, perhaps early and late yielding plants as well.  And the strawberries, well, I'll predict right now a bumper crop!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Not Much Change

The middle of August is here and, well, there hasn't been much change.  The herbs may be a bit bigger, still a rediculous amount.  I think Kate has a food dehydrator picked out to save a bunch of it for future use.  Perhaps we can give some away for the holidays this year?  I'll have to suggest that to her.

The strawberry plants continue to thrive and multiply.  I hope this is a real good sign for the spring.  When I think back to how we started with plants in a grid and squirrels constantly digging them up, I am very pleased with their progress.

Below is a close-up pic.  Kinda looks like a jungle in there, huh?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

August Is Always Kind Of A Slap In The Face...

It says 'Hey!  Summer isn't gonna last forever!'  On the other hand, football season is nigh!  Anyway, again I'm a bit late for the twice monthly update.  All who care, raise your hand!  That's what I thought...

The west garden is feast and famine.  At the top the herbs are bigger all the time, it seems.  The bottom is barren, the lettuce and the garlic fully harvested.

I think we'll have to get a food dehydrater (or the like) to store herbs for future use.  We have tried to give some away but it seems like nobody cooks with fresh herbs very often.  Oh well, too much bounty.  What kind of problem is that?*

The strawberry garden is still thriving, sending out as many runners as ever.  Containing them is proving to be a daily task, yet the bottom could fill in a little. 

Maybe we will plan ahead a little better next year and find things to plant early, then later and get two rewards for the same area every year.  I better get to like veggies a lot more - or find a steak plant!

*Edit:  I should point out we have been eating our share.  Kate has made her own spaghetti and other sauces and seasoned many other wonderful dishes as well.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Garlic is Ready

I was worried the garlic bulbs would rot in the ground once the tops were all fallen over and mostly brown.  Kate wasn't so worried, but she picked them a couple days ago anyway just so I wouldn't worry about it, I think.  It is probably as ready as it would ever be.  They aren't huge bulbs, but all seem healthy and edible.  I may have to follow up in the future with the dishes she makes using food from the garden.  Or maybe not - we had a lot of lettuce and how many pics of salads could you stand?!!   :-)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ides Of July... Almost

Oops, the middle of July passed and I almost forgot a garden update.  As you may know, I am trying to take pics at least every 2 weeks or so to follow the growth of everything.

The west garden is showing it's age a bit.  A couple days ago I cut the last of the lettuce for our neighbor.  What was left was old, rough, and had been beaten down by recent rain so I cut it down to the nubs.  I'll be surprised if we get anymore out of it, we already got way more than the package said to expect.  The garlic is about ready as well.  The stalks started to fall over under their own weight a while ago, as they brown up they will be picked.  As for the herbs, well they have turned into little bushes.  I'm not sure we expected such a yield.  I'm sure my wife has a plan to dry most of it for later use...

The strawberry plants in the east garden stopped flowering quite a while ago and seem to have turned their energies into new shoots.  They have been growing out in every direction.  All the better for next year...

Now I need to look up what kind of mulch should cover this area over the winter.  Perhaps something easily removed as in straw or hay?  I have time to figure that stuff out yet, though.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

End Of June Update

Here's the end of June update for the gardens.  There's really not much to report - it is just a garden, but it is our garden, our first garden at that.

The west garden is still thriving.  The Red Ruben Basil is the same, no growth but still living.  You can't even see it behind the sage from this angle anymore.  Kate dug up one of the garlic plants just to check their growth.  They are healthy despite being beaten down by rain but, of course, not ready yet.  All the other herbs we have been using as needed.  It's just neat to go out and cut what you need for dinner.  The lettuce along the bottom has to be near the end.  There is still some to cut and eat, but it is getting more and more scraggly looking.  That's okay, it has been cut several times and we have enjoyed eating it all spring.

The strawberry patch in the east garden is very healthy.  They seem to have stopped flowering and are just sending out runners like crazy.  Hopefully they grow, grow, and grow some more so it gets really established.  We are still looking forward to fresh strawberries next spring!

There's not a whole lot to write about the gardens right now.  I do try to update every fortnight or so just to watch the growth.  It is kind of neat to look back at how small it all started.  We always have the harvest to look forward to.  Kate will have to dry some herbs this fall so we can use them all winter long!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mid June Growth Update

It's been almost 2 weeks, so here's just a quick update to show the growth.  Everything in the west garden is healthy and thriving except the Red Ruben Basil.  It's not dying, but it's not thriving either.  The lettuce has been cut, eaten, and cut again but still is growing well.  As long as it grows, though, it will be eaten.

The strawberry plants in the east garden have recovered nicely from the early squirrel attacks.  Some are obviously stunted, yet are healthy and growing.  The one in the lower middle didn't make it so there are 2 dead spots.  The larger plants are starting to send out runners, however, so hopefully it will all be filled in sooner than later.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Anyone Want Some Lettuce?

Boy, do we have lettuce!  It is grown, ready to pick, and delicious, but we haven't even made it through one row yet.  It stays good in the fridge for quite a while, as well.  The lettuce is the first we've consumed from the garden so far.  All else still looks healthy - even the Red Ruben Basil will make a comeback, I believe.

In the east garden the strawberry plants are still growing well, there has been no squirrel or any other critter doing any damage.  Some are still struggling a bit, but are still alive.  My wife has had to trim the blossoms quite often lately.  Hopefully it will pay dividends next year.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Replacing Strawberry Plants

Lori, a friend from work, brought me in some June-bearing strawberry plants for our garden.  She said she got them but has no place to put them, so I thought it was nice of her to think of us!

At one time we thought we had lost 12 of the 24 strawberry plants planted due to the squirrels.  Now, though, several are showing signs of life and trying to come back.  After filling in some spots with the new plants, there is only 1 dead spot in the grid, top row second from right.  If you click the pic you'll see the large version and might even be able to pick it out!

The west bed is looking well still.  Most of the herbs look healthy if not growing much.  The Red Ruben Basil has me a little worried, however.  The garlic is still thriving and I find myself wondering how big they will get by fall.  And at the bottom, the lettuce looks like its ready to be picked...maybe.  We've never grown lettuce before so we'll have to look that up online, I guess.

Well, so far so good, I say.  Even when I was building it, I didn't realize how much enjoyment we would get from watching things grow.  Even better, we have only just begun!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Basil Replacement

Just a small update today.  I planted a new basil plant, the one right in the middle.  We had Sweet Danny Basil there first, but it didn't survive.  Here's a listing of all you can see here:  Along the top is regular Chives, Italian Parsley, and Garlic Chives.  Across the middle are 3 basils; Red Ruben Basil,  Cinnamon Basil and Sweet Basil.  The two herbs below are Sage and Thyme.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Frost Warning

... the last 2 nights.
Thankfully, we had some ratty old sheets on hand to cover the gardens.  I'm not really sure if it did frost either night, but we were prepared just in case.

In the east garden, the strawberry plants are low enough I just had to lay a sheet over everything.  Simple enough.  By the way, we are still looking for some more plants to fill in the gaps made by the squirrels.  I'm sure we'll get some more soon, there is just alot of other things on our minds lately as well.
The west garden was a little trickier.  I wound up using a bunch of unused flower pots upside down over most of the herbs in the top half.  Then some sideways tomatoe cages among the fragile new garlic shoots so the sheet wouldn't break them - and I didn't harm a one!  The lettuce on the bottom is low enough I let the sheet just lay over it.
This is May!   It's not supposed to frost anymore! I don't think there's anything to worry about, but the weather has turned cool and damp lately.  I'm sure we will have some nice growing weather soon! (X-fingers!)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Early Growth and Squirrels

Here is the left (west) garden box.  The herbs in the top half are still alive except the one in the middle, one of the basils.  Below that, no sign of life from the garlic yet.  Along the bottom you can see two rows of lettuce just starting to grow.

And here is the right (east) garden box, the potential strawberry field.  The dang squirrels like to dig them up so we have to do some replanting now and again, but most are looking healthy yet small.  If you look close, you can see the blanks in the grid where the squirrels killed some.  Hopefully we can replace them soon.  It would be nice to have a lush, growing strawberry patch!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Strawberry Fields Forever

I snapped this pic when Kate paused to retrieve the last few strawberry plants this afternoon.  So that's about that, then.  I must still purchase some netting to protect them eventually, but we don't expect more than a sporadic yield this first year.  Hopefully they are firmly established next year and give us a fair bunch.

Now we water, weed, wait and hope for the best...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Plants Arrive!

When I got home from work yesterday, I found a larger box by the door that I wasn't expecting.  I guess I wasn't sure how they shipped plants, but I found out! 

At right, my wife starts to go through her new plants.  In these bags are small potted plants, some garlic bulbs, and what appears to be a bag of strawberry plant roots.

Kate has decided to go with more of an herb garden, which is fine with me. I've never been crazy about green beans and carrots. The different herbs she grows I know she will use in her cooking all the time, plus we can dry that stuff out and use it year-round.

So, the far garden bed is herbs on the topside (right side in pic) and garlic on the bottomside. Bonus!  We got some free lettuce seeds with the order so Kate made a small row of lettuce along the far garden's bottomside.  I'm crossing my fingers for the lettuce!

Here is where I sat and wrote where things were planted,  the 'Supervisor's Chair,' as neighbor Dave called it.  I haven't said much about him yet (here or on my main blog).  He is a very nice older man, a widower, right next door.  Between Jane and Dave I hope we never have any other neighbors.  Both are very nice, helpful, yet not nosy or intrusive.  Hopefully we have been the same.

The strawberrys bound for the other garden bed are chillin' and will be planted very soon.  Rain is coming this weekend so I hope that helps the plants and doesn't wash them away!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fencing In The Garden

The fence was not my favorite part of yesterday.  It took up way too many hours of yesterday.  This was probably my least thought-out area.  I developed this idea using leftover bracing just recently.  I'm not sure what I thought I would do before.  I'm still not sure exactly what I'm gonna do about a gateway into the garden... 

Above is the (finally) mostly finished product, at least for this year.  I can plan a better fence/gate next winter.  All that's really left is to make the gate a little more feasable of an entryway for my wife to get in and out, and maybe a little more dirt to top it off.  I think we are supposed to get some rain tomorrow, so I do expect a little more settling of the dirt.

If you have any suggestions on how to easily connect and disconnect 2 chickenwire fences I'd be happy to listen in the comments!  I may end up having to build a gate yet.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Ton of Dirt

A ton and a half, actually.

Today, one week after I had originally planned, we finally got the twin gardens filled with dirt.  I was hoping it would only take about 20 bags each, boy was I way off.  We went through 80 bags, 40 in each, and more will come as it settles in.  At about 40 pounds per bag, I threw around 3200 pounds of dirt today.  Wow.  My back is sore, yet not injured.  We'll see what it feels like tomorrow...

One of the next things to do is the fence around it.  I've just been making this up as I go along so we'll see how that turns out!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away....

Well, I've had the 30 bags of dirt since Monday but haven't had a chance to fill the garden yet.  It hasn't rained all day every day, but always in the afternoon and evenings when I would have a chance to do it.  Hopefully soon.  I have a few extra days off coming up and would like to get some serious R & R instead of work work work.

Also, I've been looking ahead to fencing and netting.  Both will be a necessity with all the critters in the neighborhood.  My wifes plants will be arriving soon so now's the time!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Installation Successful

Last night (Wednesday), Our friends Bridget and Zubin were kind enough to come over to help move the boxes to their permanent destination behind the garage. Moving and placing them only took a few minutes, and it was so easy with 4 of us it was almost silly. So since it was so nice out, probably the warmest so far this spring, we planned on a few drinks and grilling out brats (and a veggie burger). It was alot of fun!

Today after work I went out and leveled them, top to bottom in the above pic from yesterday.  They slope down to the left away from the garage for drainage.  I also filled in the ruts I dug out around and under the sides so they would just fall into place.  I think we're gonna get rain Friday night and Saturday which I hope will be good to settle the dirt so I can pack it in on the sides again.  I'm hoping all is dry enough for Sunday so I can start the filling in process.  I'll have to stop procrastinating and get the new wheelbarrow put together by then!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ready for Installation

The twin garden boxes are fully assembled and ready to install!

That will wait for another day, however.  While I believe it would be possible for me and Kate to install it ourselves, it definitely wouldn't be the smartest thing to do. They have a little heft to them so I'll see about rounding up some help for Friday afternoon or Saturday. I had thought about assembling them in the yard, but it was easier to square them up on the flat surface.

So far I'm pleased.  There will be some digging and filling I'm sure, but I hope they set down right where they should sit very easily.  Then all that's left (for the construction part) is maybe break up sod a bit more and fill the damn things with alot of dirt!  Hopefully less than 20 bags, probably more.

Each box is 5' x 8', outside dimensions, so each is a bit less than 40 square feet.  There will be a space between them of about 2 feet.  I've had this as a general plan for a while now but mostly I built and revised it in my head as I progressed.  I had felt hurried before this weekend, but I think we're about on track to have it ready in plenty of time for whenever people usually start planting.  My wife has her plan for that, I have focused on the building so we'll see what she does next...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Starting The Assembly

Sometime around noon today my wife started doing a thorough vacuuming of the house, prompting me to get out of the house and get started on building the twin gardens.  I proceeded to make big pieces of wood into smaller pieces of wood then putting them together again.  I almost bought sawhorses but I thought I could make do with the old box shelves I had instead.  Turns out the trash bins were even better for my back because of the height. 

Below is a mock-up of one of the boxes. Only the sides are assembled, the 2x6's ,2 at the top and 1 at the bottom, are not attached yet.  The one at the bottom of the pic will actually be attached at the top of the sides.  This is the high side that will be next to the garage.  The bottom 2x6's on each side on this end may be trimmed to fit the landscape more or else go underground.  That will be determined in the backyard.

That's as far as I went today.  Tomorrow morning I need to run back to the lumberyard for some studs to use as bracing, more screws, and 1-10' treated 2x6 that I somehow shorted myself on my lumber list.  If you look to the left you'll see the new wheelbarrow, still unassembled, that will help us fill the boxes with dirt. 

It's finally starting to take shape!

Sod Off!*

My plan has been to till up the areas where the twin gardens will go, even though the sod will be several inches below the final surface of the garden. That turned out to be rather unfeasable. The large rear-tined tiller that will go through sod required a trailer or open truck to transport, of which I have neither. So I decided to try a smaller front-tined tiller and break up the top layer of sod with a shovel first. Since I reserved one for this morning, I had to go out last night and do a little work. The soil was actually not as hard as I had feared and I soon realized that just digs with the shovel should be fine after all. First thing this morning I cancelled the tiller and saved some money.

Above is what the area looks like today. I pretty much mapped it out (with my wife's help) with a shovel and a tape measure. This morning I finished the edges and turned alot of the sod near the garage, the area that will have the least dirt added above it.  All in small bits and at an easy pace to avoid the usual back issues.  As a happy coincidence, the timber edging the garage aroud the corner is a perfect length- no cutting or removing it!  I may break up more sod if it seems necessary later, but I want to have the wooden box out there to see what it looks like.

That was last night and this morning, this afternoon I started building the boxes.  More on that to come...

*Apologies to readers across the pond if the title is offensive.  If you say that to someone here they would probably be mostly amused at the odd saying.  I thought it was a clever title for this post, is all.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Turning Leaves

Some snow has melted in the backyard, where it gets good sun so yesterday I went out to turn the leaves. Last fall's leaves from the back yard I put in a small area behind the garage. The intent is to compost the leaves and kill the grass where I expected a small garden to be. Since then my wife's plans have gotten grander and I've bought into it. Last year I expected to till up that area and that would pretty much be that, maybe put a fence around it if needed. Building a raised bed garden has increased the work and planning to be done. It's not level ground so it's more than just building a box.

Here's what it looks like as of yesterday. I should pick one spot to take pics from so I can show the progression. That might be an idea...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Planning the Raised Bed

It's a good thing I haven't posted what plan I've thought of yet, I've changed my mind about 7 times now. It's safe to say the plans have yet to be decided upon. Still plenty of time. Heck, we could possibly see 8-9 inches of snow early next week, or as little as nothing. Right now that system is coming in from southern Cal headed to St. Louis or North. They never know..

I think I know the garden Kate wants ideally, it kinda depends on what I am most comfortable building in that space. I'm thinking of time, labor, and material cost as well. I want to do it early but not in mud, either. on the plus side, I may get a new power tool out of this!

These are some of the firsts we will be experiencing in our first spring in our first house! All the other plants will be coming back in so there will be some plant drama with that as well.

This is actually fun!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

This Space Reserved

Last spring we bought our first house. This spring we will be building a raised garden bed and starting up our first garden. This blog will be a self-indulgent chronicling of this project, successes and failures. See you in the spring!