veg update

The raised bed is doing well despite my not giving it much attention – wahoo!

Raised bed growing (and in some cases being eaten)

Some of the lettuce seeds grew and are ready for me to be harvesting them. I’ve got to remember to actually do it one of these days.

Raised bed growing (and in some cases being eaten)

Some of the carrot seedlings show signs of having been nibbled on – I’m not sure what did it, but I thinned them out anyway so hopefully a few will grow.

Raised bed growing (and in some cases being eaten)

The cukes are off to a good start. I need to give them some tomato cages pretty soon so they can have something to cling to.

Raised bed growing (and in some cases being eaten)

This pumpkin plant seems to be very happy!

Raised bed growing (and in some cases being eaten)

The cauliflower looks like it has been a delicious snack for something, too. More thinning required here, obvs.

I am excited to see if I get any actual edibles from this garden this year. I’ve been trying to be diligent with watering since we’ve had such a dry month of June. Here’s hoping!

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surprise sprouts

The seeds I planted in the raised bed are sprouting! We’ve had pretty great weather for this – warm (hot!) and with a good amount of rain (we’ve also been watering with the hose as needed, of course).

Raised bed sprouts

I’m excited to see that things are growing, anyway, though. Growing things from seed is always fun for me. I also wasn’t sure if any/many of the seeds might get eaten by critters, but so far my fence seems to be working. There are some blades of grass making their way up through the soil (I really should have mowed it lower before starting! oh well) that I will need to continue to pull out, but not a lot of weeds yet. Hooray for that!

The surprising bit is this:

Actual leaves sprouting on the thought-dead tree!

There are a couple of leaflets poking out on the thought-to-be-dead Harrow Sweet Pear tree! These were definitely not there last week, so maybe my paying extra attention to this tree (though I didn’t actually take any action aside from lamenting its inactivity) helped spur it to growth?

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seeds in the ground!

Last week I did not get time to put the seeds in the raised bed in the evenings as I had hoped – and then we had a freeze warning! In May! Bleh, Michigan. Luckily after the snow stopped on Sunday morning, it turned into a beautiful day and I was able to get the seeds in that afternoon.

Firefly Cottage

To recap, the things I’m growing this season will be somewhat limited – living with the means of the space I have here, and I’m not feeling ambitious enough to care for more than one bed this year. Even as it is, I’ve packed in a ton of stuff into this one bed! The list:

Bean ‘Blue Lake 274’
Cabbage ‘Early Golden Acre’
Carrot ‘Danvers Half Long’
Carrot ‘Scarlet Nantes’
Cauliflower ‘Snowball x’
Cucumber ‘Marketmore’
Lettuce ‘Iceberg’
Pumpkin ‘Connecticut Field’
Romaine lettuce ‘Parris Island Cos’
Spinach ‘Bloomsdale long standing’
Sweet pepper ‘Marconi’

Most of these seeds are from my big Dollar General seed sale binge last fall – the seeds were marketed for last year but I’ve always had good luck with using seeds over many years past their original selling date. The Marconi Pepper seeds I received from a swap from someone who had saved them from their own garden – I can’t remember who sent them, but thank you, swapper!

Firefly Cottage

I found these plant markers that I had picked up at the ReStore quite a long time ago, and they work very nicely! I think I still have some similar ones left from my previous garden downstate, but I am not sure where they are right now. I think these look nice and hopefully the Sharpie will stay legible. I’m so looking forward to growing edibles again!

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rabbit proof

I hope, anyway! This weekend we did a ton of work getting the raised bed ready to go. I had a bit of a rough week last week because I had to work a different schedule with extra hours and I was really burned out by the end of the day Friday.

Raised bed with rabbit fence installed

I finished filling the bed with soil, and then we installed a rabbit (and other critter) fence. I dug a trench down in the soil so the fence goes underground to hopefully prevent them from digging under it. We used our new pneumatic staple gun (with the new air compressor) to attach the fence to the posts. It was a nice project to learn how to use these tools.

Raised bed with rabbit fence installed

By no means is this project perfect, but it is functional and will work just fine, I think. The roll of rabbit fence was a bit taller than necessary (I want to be able to step over it myself), so I cut it down a bit. By happy accident, combining two layers of the cut off part was just the right length to make up for the slightly-too-short-ness of the roll itself. I used zip ties to connect the two sections so there aren’t any gaps big enough for something to squeeze through.

Raised bed with rabbit fence installed

Finally, I filled the perimeter of the inside-the-fence area so that I can easily walk around and kneel next to the bed and there won’t be unmowable grass inside. I used our trusty smothering method of laying down layers of newspaper, wetting it, and then putting a generous layer of mulch on top. I don’t love the color of this brown mulch, but it was on super sale so I was willing to compromise on aesthetics (especially as the rabbit fence itself is not gorgeous). I may plant some shorter-growth-habit climbers on the fence to pretty it up a little bit.

I’m getting excited to actually plant some things here! I was going to yesterday, but then we got a frost advisory (and I had a bunch of other things I needed to get done) so I decided to wait. Hopefully I can get things planted in the evenings after work this week.

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soil and toil

This weekend we took out one of the planters in the back yard.

planting bed in back yard

It had a number of issues, including a hosta that was WAY too big for it and the fact that it didn’t get enough sun and was always sort of mildewy on the pavers (gross!). So we decided that it was time for it to move along. I transplanted the hosta to a shady spot on the other side of the fence and also transplanted the Speedwell that was in here to the other backyard planter which gets more sun. I did not transplant any of the maple seedlings or weed tree starts that were hanging out.

Corner bed removed, grass seeded

K seeded this area once we were done clearing it out. We really don’t necessarily want MORE grass, but in the back yard it makes sense as the dogs run around back here. I need to buy more clover seed to mix in back here.

Some soil in the raised bed

Some of the soil from the planter we took out went into my raised bed along with 10 bags of soil I purchased. I need to get a bit more, but hadn’t wanted to over-buy and wasn’t sure how much we’d get out of that planter.

Some soil in the raised bed

It doesn’t need a ton more, but I’d like to bring the soil level up to within an inch or so of the edge, so a bit more is needed. Getting there!

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raised bed garden plan

It’s almost time to plant seeds for my raised bed garden! I’m really excited to be able to grow things to eat again. I have missed having my own-grown fresh veg!

These are the veg/edible seeds I have in my stash right now:
Bean ‘Blue Lake 274’
Cabbage ‘Early Golden Acre’
Carrot ‘Danvers Half Long’
Carrot ‘Scarlet Nantes’
Cauliflower ‘Snowball x’
Cucumber ‘Marketmore’
Lettuce ‘Iceberg’
Pumpkin ‘Connecticut Field’
Romaine lettuce ‘Parris Island Cos’
Spinach ‘Bloomsdale long standing’
Squash ‘Blue Magic F1’
Squash ‘Yugoslavian Fingers’
Sweet pepper ‘Marconi’
Winter squash ‘Waltham butternut’

I’m not feeling compelled to grow EVERYTHING – I’d rather be a little choosier with what I plant and not overwhelm myself. I’ve definitely overdone it before! I’m also not starting anything indoors this year. My seed-starting set-up still lives with my sistrah, and I’m not sure where I’d put it if I brought it back (the basement is still a bit of a disaster area after our whole waterproofing thing) so I’m not getting into that this year at least. I know a lot of gardeners get frustrated with direct sowing because things take longer, but I have done it that way before and I’m fine with it.

So the varieties I am planning to actually plant this year are:
Bean ‘Blue Lake 274’
Cabbage ‘Early Golden Acre’
Carrot ‘Danvers Half Long’
Carrot ‘Scarlet Nantes’
Cauliflower ‘Snowball x’
Cucumber ‘Marketmore’
Lettuce ‘Iceberg’
Pumpkin ‘Connecticut Field’
Romaine lettuce ‘Parris Island Cos’
Spinach ‘Bloomsdale long standing’
Sweet pepper ‘Marconi’

I may put in some Winter squash ‘Waltham butternut’ later on – it’s fine to summer sow this variety so I can always put it in a little later. I also have a few varieties of Marigold seeds which I’ll likely plant along the border of the raised bed.

raised bed plan photo raised bed 2016-04-21_zpsdky1lh3s.png

I think this is a pretty reasonable plan! I’m going to try to give the cucumbers and pumpkins tons of room to grow, but also train them vertically with some metal supports. They both like to grow vigorously in my experience and will take over whatever space you give them! I also have some metal trellises in storage at my sistrah’s, which I need to get back in order to support the bush beans. I’m going to try to plant in succession for the lettuce and spinach, and see how long I can keep them going before it gets too hot and they want to bolt. Hopefully I can get a few harvests – I can never have enough salad greens in the summertime!

So this is my plan. What are you growing in your veg garden this year? I still need to figure out a plan for herbs – anyone have a brilliant setup that you love?

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raised bed DIY

This weekend we put together the raised bed we had purchased materials for. It isn’t a complicated construction project – basically a rectangle involving only one cut.

I opted to purchase a wood decking product rather than actual wood in order to save money. I’d love to go with cedar for everything, but it’s so pricey! Our local Home Despot also didn’t have the size boards I wanted in stock in cedar.

Raised bed

We got some nice corner brackets and grabbed some self-driving screws to go with. In theory, this works great.

Raised bed

In reality, though, this decking material is AWFUL. It didn’t grab the screws at all – it basically just shredded into a pulp instead. GRRR. The screws fell right out as soon as we put them in!

Raised bed

So we grabbed some nails, which worked to attach the corners, but as you can see also caused some small cracks in the decking. This stuff is supposed to be guaranteed to work with any fasteners you’d use with wood, but clearly that is not the case. It will be okay, but it’s definitely not the result I was looking for. I’m glad we only got enough to do one bed this year! I’ll definitely not purchase any of this stuff again.

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Veg bed plans for 2011

Okay! As promised, here are my plans for the veg beds this year. I saw a post the other day that recommended a (new?) site called Olioboard for putting together garden beds. I tried it and it works pretty well. It was easy to use and worked like I expected it would – and it’s free!

This is the first raised bed (the one that lives on the left side of the back garden):

Raised Bed - left - plan 2011From back to front, left to right, we have:

True Gold Sweet Corn (all the way across)

Emerald Giant Sweet Pepper x2   Anaheim Hot PepperPurple Beauty Sweet Pepper x2

Rocky Top Lettuce Mix .      Iceberg Lettuce .     Bloomsdale Spinach .    Calabrese Broccoli

 

I’m hoping that I haven’t squished too much into the bed – I have definitely done that before. I think I’m okay on this one, though. The bed is approximately 8’x4′ (I think), and I think I’ve allowed for enough room. Not entirely sure I’ve done that on this next one, which lives on the right side of the back garden:

Raised Bed - right - plan 2011Here we have, from back to front, left to right:

Tom Thumb Popcorn (across half)                     Strawberry Popcorn (across the other half)

Early Russian Cucumber .          Chadwick Cherry Tomato .        Marketmore 76 Cucumber

.                                   Mule Team Tomato .                Brandywine Tomato

Atomic Red Carrot (across half)                                  Muscade Carrot (across the other half)

 

I think this will be not too crowded, as long as I keep the tomato and cucumber vines in check. I also have the long veg bed along the fence. I’m switching up the spots where I’ve grown some of the same stuff in past years, so no part of the soil gets drained of something that a particular plant really likes. Here’s the long bed along the fence:

long fence veg bed - plan 2011The left column, which will be on the fence side of this bed, has, from top to bottom:

Golden Sweet Snow Peas

Contender Bush Beans

Blue Lake Bush Beans

Fin de Bagnol Beans

 

The right side column has, from top to bottom:

Black Beauty Zucchini

Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin

Sugar Baby Watermelon

Early Prolific Straightneck Squash

Charentais Melon

Oxheart Tomato

Blacktail Mountain Watermelon

Buttercup Squash

Zucchini Cocozelle

 

I just threw these into this plan, no reason for the order, because they all get the same relative amount of sun and nothing will be shading them, and I’m not sure if there’s any benefit to growing them in a particular order. Hints and tips appreciated, if anyone has any.

So that’s the plan! Roughly, anyway. I’ll also be planting some pretty red lettuce and cabbage in the front garden, hopefully, although last year I tried that and they never came to much. Here’s hoping they’ll turn out better this year. I’m going to make an updated map of the front garden using this software – keep an eye out for that here soon.

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