Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June Update

Things are cranking along. The spring crops are beginning to run their course, and I'm working on replanting some empty squares.

The lettuce is nearly finished. Maybe another week before it's all done. Same with spinach. And I've begun to tap into the last two squares of radishes. I know from last year that radishes planted in June or later here just don't develop, so once this round is finished, I'll wait until Fall for more.

I've erected a makeshift fence to try to keep the squash penned in. It's growing like mad and I have a number of small green squash growing (so I guess the bees did their job). Pulled the single square of turnips that was being enveloped by squash leaves -- got about a pound of turnips from the square.

I have realized the stakes I'm using for cucumbers are woefully too short as the plants are already nearing the top. Oh well, I'll know better next year. But I do have more cucs planted in the pea squares, in hopes that the peas fill finish in time for the cucs to climb the trellis.

I have a number of small tomatoes on the vines now. But I'm still worried about my spacing with these plants -- it's quite a dense mass at the moment and not the easiest thing to maintain.

I will be overseas on business for the entire month of July, so I'm trying to get things squared away so my wife will have an easier time tending to the garden. The good thing is that July is more or less harvesting and pruning with not much planting being done.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


No photos this time -- been pretty busy with other stuff. But the garden is producing nicely now. Steady harvest of lettuce, spinach (though this is nearly finished), radishes, peas, basil, parsley and even a couple small turnips.

I didn't realize how large the leaves of the turnips would get, so had to pull a couple of them to thin it out. Nearly a pound of spinach has been harvested -- the leafminers only put a small dent in the overall yield. Roughly 60 servings of lettuce, 22 ounces of snap peas, a bunch of parsley and many basil leaves have also been harvested.

My broccoli and cauliflower are healthy, but growing more slowly than last year. I was harvesting by mid-June last year, but it's looking more like late June for this crop -- I hope it's doesn't get too hot too soon.

Another small issue -- I thought I planted 2 vining squash, and hoped to train them up 2 stakes. I have 6 squares devoted to them. But as it turns out, this doesn't look like a vining variety. They're getting a little out of control, but are growing like crazy. I'll have to figure out a way to reign them in a bit.

The tomatoes are growing fast now, too. I'm out there pinching suckers nearly every day now. I'm having my doubts though that my spacing and structures are going to be sufficient. I'll try to get a photo next time to illustrate this.

So far, so good. The pests have generally left me alone so far, but I am still spraying BT every 7-10 days.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

First harvest

Well, the only casualty from that frost was one basil plant. I had it covered, but it still turned black and died. Other than that, everything else survived.

As of today, the garden is fully planted -- every square is occupied. I transplanted my peppers, squash and cucumbers, as well as direct sowed more carrots, radishes and cilantro. I also planted some cucumber seeds in my pea squares because I read somewhere that by the time the cucs needs the trellis, the peas are finished. I'm experimenting with that this year, since it would maximize the space and trellis usage if it works.

Harvested our first crops today -- 6 radishes and enough lettuce for 3 servings of salad. I forgot how much better homegrown lettuce tastes versus store-bought lettuce.

I'm still trying to figure out what to do about staking my front-row tomatoes as well as my cucs and squash. They want $2.50/ea. for basic wooden garden stakes at the store. And since I'd need about 15, I'm trying to figure out a free or cheap way to stake the remaining plants. I'd build more of my EMT trellises, but the plants in question are pretty close to their northern neighbors, and I was hoping to go with something smaller and simpler to avoid shade issues. I'll keep thinking. Still another couple weeks before anything is large enough to need the trellis.

Leafminers having a field day with my spinach again this year. Tried covering them with cheese cloth, but the birds destroyed that (I guess trying to use it for nest material). I just hope they leave enough alone for use to actually eat some spinach.


Lettuce, spinach, carrots, onions, broc, parsley, tomatoes:

Radishes, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, beets, squash, cauli, carrots, peas, beans:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Frost warning

It's been a couple days of strong winds and tonight we have a frost warning in effect, with overnight lows perhaps around 30 degrees. I ran out to Home Depot this afternoon and got a couple 1/2" PVC and some plastic and rigged up a makeshift cover for my tomatoes. I knew I was putting them out a bit early, but they were really suffering inside so I didn't have much choice. Hopefully my setup will survive.

The leafminers, my early nemesis, has returned. I keep finding their eggs under nearly every spinach leaf. I may have to cover those squares with bug netting or something this year.

Other than that, things are looking good. The carrots and beets have sprouted outside. Started my squash (which has sprouted) and cucumbers inside. My indoor-started cucs all shriveled up and died after transplanting last year, but I'll try again. I can always direct sow if these fail too.

Peas, cauliflower, radishes, beets...

Makeshift frost cover, onions, broccoli, lettuce, spinach...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Beets, turnips, carrots, radishes....

It's too hot and I'm too lazy to take any pics today, but things are progressing nicely in the garden. Direct-sowed some more lettuce, radishes, carrots, turnips, chives and beets, and had my tomatoes and peppers out in the sun this weekend.

The tomatoes are getting really big, really fast. Too fast, in fact. They're beginning to outgrow my light setup. I think I may have to chance it and set them out early this week. There is no frost in the long-range forecast and I'm confident I could get them covered in time if a frost did spring up.

I'm trying some summer squash this year. I initially bought a pack of bush variety, but changed my mind and got a vining type and will try to go vertical with them.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Planting continues

As of today, I have yellow onions, broccoli, parsley, peas and spinach out in the garden, and tomatoes, peppers and basil under the lights. Cauliflower and first round of lettuce is now hardening and will go out today or tomorrow. So far so good.

I do have a squirrel that seems to like digging around in my beds. He doesn't seem interested in the plants themselves, he's just digging holes. But I'm worried that some plants will get damaged in the process. I haven't actually seen him so I'm not sure how exactly he's getting in. I'll have to keep a closer eye on the situation.

I also may have found a source for free, composted horse manure, already bagged. This will go a long way to reduce my overall costs.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ramping up

As of today, I have onions and peas out in the garden. Parsley is hardening now and will go out tomorrow.

Inside, I have lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, basil, bell peppers and jalapenos started.

Got another few bags of wood chips for between the boxes, but other than that, all major projects are done. I'll get some new photos up once there's more stuff to take pictures of out there.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Done with construction

Finally finished the major construction projects over the weekend. I'm very happy with how things turned out. Really feels like a garden now. The only thing left is to put a latch on the gate.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Nearly finished

After a few more arduous days of work, I'm nearly finished with the construction of the new garden. Filled all the boxes, strung the grids, erected the trellises, layered wood chips between the boxes, and put up the fence. I still need to build a gate, but I'll save that for tomorrow.

Started my peppers a few days ago and will start my broccoli and cauliflower seeds tonight.

All in all, a pretty good couple weeks of work and things are really starting to come together.

Some may remember that I used $0.50 PVC elbows on my EMT trellises rather than the "proper" $5.00 ones. Well, after one season, they are holding up well. A couple popped off while moving them into storage, but they hammered back on without a problem and are holding well.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Filling boxes

I was able to partially fill the last four boxes on Sunday. Still have a little ways to go, but should be able to finish next weekend.

Also strung my grid strings on 2 of the new boxes and planted 4 squares of yellow onions. My parsley seedlings in the basement are beginning to germinate as well.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Spent several miserable hours in the cold, pouring rain this morning leveling and positioning the last boxes. Also started to fill them, but the weather began getting the better of me. I'm about 1/4 of the way done filling them. Probably need to make another run for manure/humus/compost to fill them. Hopefully the rain will let up a bit tomorrow so I can finish. I would have taken a picture but it was raining and blowing too hard. Maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Gathering supplies

Picked up some more bagged manure and made a run to my vermiculite supplier and bought 4 bags. Just need another load of manure and some peat and I'm ready to mix my soil.

Leveled three of my four new boxes. It was a bit of a pain, and they're not perfect, but it should do. I'm sure they'll settle a bit as the season wears on.

Also been messing around with my layout. I think I solved my trellis-shade problem by loading one rear box with tomatoes and either trellis the north row and stake the front, or run the trellis down the middle and grow them up either side. Regardless, I will not be trellising the row of boxes south of those boxes and either set some stakes or put up small trellises (2-3 ft long -- sun will penetrate to northern box) in a sort of ad-hoc fashion as I need them.

So far, I'm very pleased with the progress so far. Another solid weekend of work, and all the major projects will be done. I'm hoping I can even get some onion sets in in time. I had my doubts that I'd make it a couple weeks ago.

Monday, March 8, 2010

New boxes are built

Finished building the new boxes on Sunday. Painted them with boiled linseed oil this time to see if that will extend the life of the wood a bit. I still have to dig the boxes in and level them.

Also picked up my first load of manure (13 bags). Need about two more loads of that to fill the new boxes.

Also realized I have a bit of a problem with my layout plan. I have two adjacent 2x8 boxes running East-West. Directly in front of these is another pair of 2x8 boxes. The north side of all these boxes will have trellises. I was hoping to space these 2 feet apart, but I'm now realizing the trellises of the front boxes may shade the back boxes at certain points of the year. Trouble is, I need the boxes fairly tight to each other to save space, but I also need the trellis space for tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and peas. I'm wondering if 3ft spacing will be enough?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Good progress

Over the past two days, our old metal shed was taken down, the wood foundation removed, some gravel shoveled out, and the ground leveled as well as possible. The ground has a slight slope to it and is not entirely even, but I think it should work. If anything, I may have to dig the high end of the boxes in a couple inches.

Last year's garden was four 4x4 boxes. I am reusing them this year (pushing them together in pairs so will effective be two 4x8's), and also adding four 2x8's which will have trellises along the north sides -- effectively 32 ft of trellis space. Total space will be 128 sq ft.

Last fall, on junk day, I found two huge coils of garden fencing with stakes. I should have enough to build a legit fence this year (rather than my jury-rigged chicken-wire cages I used last year). Gotta love free stuff!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's been a while...

I guess I got pretty lazy with the blog late last season! Anyway, I ended up with just over $300 worth of produce from the garden. I could have done better, but had to shut the garden down a bit early to get some backyard projects underway. Didn't have much of a fall crop.

I moved last season's boxes to a staging area and a new wooden shed was built where the boxes were. I'm in the process of moving the contents of the old, metal shed into the new one. When done with that, I'm taking down the old shed, and that area will become the new garden. Last year I had the boxes sitting on gravel, but this year I can sit them on the native soil, which is quite good. I will also be able to fence in the whole area rather than attaching those chicken wire panels directly to the boxes. That should make working in them a bit easier.

Last year I had 68 sq ft (including 2 SWC's which largely failed). This year will be 128 sq ft. I still have a lot to do, and need to get it done by early March, so I can get my onion seeds planted. I'll post some photos of the progress soon.