Sunday, March 31, 2013

Low Raised Bed

I was perusing the current edition of Mother Earth News, just minding my own business, and came across the article How To Make Cheap Garden Beds by Cheryl Long.  I am completely all for this.  If you know anything about my property you know it is nothing but rocks.  Big rocks, little rocks, heavy rocks, round rocks, white rocks, brown rocks, etc.  I have only ever built completely raised beds for gardening and hauled in dirt.  I currently have 12 beds mostly 4 feet by 8 feet. 

As I read the article I stumbled upon the phrase "low raised bed."  Hmm, I might be able to do this.  I found a test area and gave it a try.  It was a lot of work but I now have a low raised bed which measures 7 feet by 2 feet.  I dug up the soil and got it all loose 4 inches deep. 

Let me tell you what's going on in the pic.  At the bottom right side is what needs to be dug up.  Notice there's still some green weeds growing.  Next to that is a "small" rock that needs to be dug out.  To the left is the tilled up soil mixed with very small rocks.  In the upper left is what was finished and covered with mulch.  In the upper right are not so small rocks I tossed to the side and form a border along the fence line.  

Now the mulch can decompose and start improving the soil.  I am going to try planting some extra seedlings there in a month to see if the bed is usable this season.

I wonder where that pot went.  Ah, there it is.  Whoa lady, you're gonna need to get through me to get that pot.  I need that pot... You're gonna have to scratch me.  Pot.  Scratch.  Pot.  Scratch.  Fine, you win.

Today was the first official harvest of the season.  I did a health pick of all the greens and it added up to quite a bit.  I have spinach, swiss chard, 3 lettuces, and fennel.  It was one gallon bag's worth.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Researching Greenhouses

I've been battling with things in the garden for several years.  The more garden blogs and pics I see the more I want a greenhouse.  This seems to be the way to go to get plants grown and healthy enough to put outside.  This is one of my downfalls of gardening with seed.  I invariably put things out too early.  Usually I'm running out of room in the house or the weather pretends it's going to behave.  

Greenhouse by Exaco.    There's no prices on the website.

Greenhouse by Duramax at Lowe's.  This one is under $1000 and is the largest so far for our budget.  70 square feet.  I'd like to be able to attach shelves along the sides.  I don't know if this is possible.  If not I'd have to buy metal shelving units to maximize space.

A one piece unit from Solar Gem.  No prices on the website.  I've emailed them.  I'm not sure how much I like the look of this.  Obviously I can't attach anything to the sides and I would have to have shelving units.

The biggest consideration for choosing a greenhouse here is wind.  It would be pure foolishness to consider anything with soft walls such as polyethylene.  I might as well throw my money out the window. 

I have awhile to consider what I will get.  It's pretty much too warm here now to have anything growing in a greenhouse.  It would only be used for storage or protecting plants at night from critters.

My only other choice is to carve out space somewhere in my house for 3 months out of the year and just be more patient with growing inside.

What's Cookin?

Now that all the labor intensive work is done in the garden, I'm mostly watering and doing damage control.  I've set a small goal to plant something everyday.  Today I planted some okra seeds and coleus seeds indoors.  I need a greenhouse...  In other news I decided to buy Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child.

I've checked this book out of the library several times just to read.  It's an invaluable resource.  I'm happy I'll be adding it to my library and I'll be able to write notes in it.

Tomorrow I'd like to try making some strawberry jam with the little one.  Strawberries are on sale cheap and I love have homemade jams instead of buying them.  Now I just need to see if I have some jars...

Ball Canning Website

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Gloomy Day

I did not want to go outside today.  I did not want to work on the garden.  The freeze made me feel frozen.  I was tired of gardening.  I was tired of planting.  The skies are so very cloudy.

But outside I went.  I was reluctant and petulant about it.  I grumbled at the cats.  I pulled all the dead plants out and reseeded.  I planted new tomatoes plants.  I left some of the zombie plants in the ground.  They have a knack for coming back to life.  I started some more cucumber seeds indoors.

" As God is my witness, as God is my witness they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again."-Scarlett O'Hara

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Death and Destruction

Disaster hit last night.  I feel a little sullen about it.  It's the chance one takes with early Spring gardening.  The late freeze.  Not everything was killed, but enough that I will have to sow some more seeds. 

Eggplant.  50-100% killed.

Beans and corn.  30-60% killed.

Cucumber.  Under 20% killed.

Tomatoes were also 50% killed.  Luckily beans grow very fast.  The tomatoes I will just rebuy some new plants.

I haven't posted a pic of Onslo in a long time.  He's still dumb because he keeps eating dirt.  There's just something about new dirt he can't resist.  He's gross.  He's still a good little guard dog.

A Bit of Fennel

I finally broke down Friday night and harvested one of the fennel bulbs.  This is what fennel looks like.  At my store it costs $2.98.  It has a unique lemon/licorice scent.

Since it was only one bulb I sauteed it in some butter till soft and lightly browned and ate it with some bread. 

My usual favorite way to cook fennel is chopping it up along with some butternut squash, onion, and red bell pepper.  I cook it in a pot on the stove until it's softened.  It can be combined with many other vegetables or grains, and spices.  It's considered a comfort food at our house.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Final Planting Day

I slugged through today as best I could.  Still getting over the plague and all.  I was up and out in the garden around 7 this morning.  It looks like we got a little more rain.  The lemon tree looks like it will stick around for a little longer.  I can relax a bit because the lemon tree and nectarine are still alive after one month of my nuturing care.  We'll just see how those apple trees feel about it.  So far the Fuji apple tree seems happy and is blooming.  The Golden Dorsett apple tree looks like it's happy being a stick.

Whoa!  Look at those beans.  The instructions said to plant beans and squash once the corn was six inches tall.  This is two days of growth for the beans.  I think they are going to overtake the corn.  I had some old tomato cages sitting around so I put one around each bean plant.  I'm not worried about the squash since it should spread across the ground. 

The eggplant is planted.  There's actually 2 eggplants.  I'm not a big eggplant eater.  I like the color.  I pulled that pesky leaf out from under the wire and fixed it so it can't try to hide under it again.  

I planted it in this bed I just threw together yesterday.  I'm not sure it will work but I wanted to try.  I used 2.25 plain fence boards from the store.  The boards are 8 feet long.  I used 2 for the long sides and cut one board into 2 foot sections.  I used 2 of those for the ends.  I had some extra 2x4 pieces laying around.  I used those for the corners and put together using 2 inch screws.

The last of the tomatoes are planted.  Please, please, please let them grow.  I love tomatoes.

Here is the last of the cucumber project.  I'll take a full pic once they start growing up the lattice.  I really wanted to be done with planting today even though I was a little wary about planting these today.  While putting them in their hole I noticed they had a nice root system already.  I hope I get to make pickles.

Beans, Squash, Waffles, and Ding Dongs

I wish the title implied this was a better post.  I was finally down for the count yesterday with, hopefully, the last of the Winter illnesses/colds.  I didn't work on anything and slept most of the day

A few days ago I had planted beans and squash with the corn and those are starting to come up.  I kept real careful records and don't know which ones are beans and which ones are squash.  I do remember they are beans and squash...with corn.  Yep. 

The lovely Mr. Man got me a present.  We had talked about how I have never had a waffle iron and wanted one but never remembered when I was at the store.  We would have bought one on Amazon because we're lazy, but it's cheaper at the store.  Mr. Man broke down and bought me one from the store.  It wasn't too hard to learn to use and by the 4th waffle I was a pro. 

Have you ever found yourself calling someone a ding dong?  "Oh you silly dingdong!"  It turns out there is an actual person named Ding Dong.  Ding Dong Feng to be exact. They live in Beijing, China. Who knew?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Homesteading For Beginners Series

I was over on the Facebook and came across a trailer on YouTube for this Homesteading for Beginners Volume 4.  It is so stinkin cute!

All 4 volumes can be found on Amazon.

Apple Tree

Nooo you can't go into the garden.  You must stay with meee and pay attention to meee and pet meee.  Yes kitteh, I know you're there.  Really, I must do all this work now and when I rest you will sit on my lap and tell me about all the injustice you have suffered.

I'm currently working on a post about my cucumbers but for now I will post about other things I'm doing.  In the back garden I have this lovely statue.  Well, she used to be lovely.  I'm not quite sure of the hardships she must have suffered because she's now missing an arm and her head fell off.  She's still smiling and it becomes sort of quirky and silly.  I'll leave her there.  She's keeping some onions company.

This shed is almost done.  It needs to be painted.  In the meantime I worked on this spot to give it a little happy color.  I planted Mexican Heather and petunias.  Even though it gets so horribly hot, I planted these due to the position of the shed.  At just after noon the shed starts to create shade and shields these plants.  I'm also going to use the shed shade to help grow my cucumbers.  Anyone else use this strategy?

I wanted to plant an apple tree this year.  So far we have a nectarine tree and a lemon tree.  The little one and I made a pilgrimage to the store and got this Fuji apple tree.  I planted it pretty easily and then read the tag.  It needs a pollinator.  This means it needs another apple tree to be able to pollinate and make baby apples.  We'll be going back to the store today.  The tag says a Golden Delicious apple tree is a good match.  I like those apples, too, so I guess that's what I'll get.  But that's it!  No more fruit trees this year! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I Love Spring!

I just love Spring for all the wonderful surprises it brings.  It brings them everyday, too.  I can't think of another season which things change so rapidly.  Can you?

The lifeless and boring lavender has woke up and is getting fuller and now wants to flower.

The little one planted these.  She has an amazing green thumb with sunflowers.  If they grow to their intended height we will surely be the envy of the neighborhood, with many 10 foot tall sunflowers around the property.

Oh alien flower, what are thou?  You have raised your majestic and strange head.  We will know you soon.

I'm having some great results with fennel.  I've never grown it before.  It sort of wintered over before growing bigger.  The deer don't seem to like it.  I shall plant it everywhere.

Bronze tipped lettuces are yummy though they tend to look like they are turning brown and dying. 

I like this lettuce for it's shape, not necessarily it's taste. 

Aha!  You are a Poppy, little alien flower.  I'm so glad I didn't dig up all your friends.  Now we will have lots of Poppies blooming.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Last Friday the little one and I had some serious shopping to do, I mean really serious.  There was a princess party and she needed a real princess dress.  Where else to go but the Disney Store.  Once there I was sooo incredibly lucky because she found the dress she wanted right away.  (Disney, you need to have a dressing room since I'm spending this much for a dress.)  I had a coupon for 20% off and we made it out of the store ALIVE! 

Now I'm not opposed to shopping.  Though I hate the traffic I like going to different stores and seeing all the new things out there.  This is also where I have a problem:  new things.  A lot of things I see aren't really new.  A lot of stores I see are regurgitating the same tired things year after year.  There are certain stores I can't stand to go in anymore because there's simply nothing new and the quality is becoming subpar.  The husband likes to go to Old Navy but this is one of the stores I no longer like because of quality and boredom. 

I had also received a coupon in the mail for 50% off at Maurice's.  Now that's a coupon I can like.  It was also by the Disney Store.  This store has a wide array of sizes and is crammed full of stuff.  The helpful store manager told me how the store was organized and I went off looking for something to use my coupon on.


While I was looking around the little one and the manager conspired against me and got me to try things on.  The dressing room was great!  It had this little couch and I wanted to get some tea and a book and just stay in there.  

In the end they convinced me I needed this lace edged camisole top and these capri jeans with a very sparkly behind.  How cool are those going to look in the garden?!  I also got some new sandals.  (Warning:  Only slender feet will fit into their sandals.)  

My bill was like $2 because of all the coupons and promotions.  I couldn't even keep them straight.  I'll get something in the mail, and email, and the end of the month, and once a year, twice if it's a odd number year, and on and on and on.  I can also stack them all on top of the store's regular sale.  So they should be paying me to take clothes out of their store.   

Friday, March 15, 2013

Garlic, Sage, and Chard

I decided to make this easy sounding recipe in the crockpot.  It called for some cloves of garlic.  One clove of garlic had a green tip growing.  I can plant this!  I looked it up on SuperduperGoogle.  Easy peasy.

I let it soak in some water while I went out to town for a bit.  Ok, for awhile because I was at the garden center...again.  When I got back home I planted it 2 inches deep with the green sticking up.  We'll see if it works. 

At the garden center I found this strange plant.  It's sage with variegated coloring.  I'm not particularly good at growing herbs but I'll give anything a try.  I found the salvia plants I wanted.  I planted 5 salvia plants along the fence line.  I also picked up some Mexican heather for the husband.  I also am continuing my obsession with tomato plants.  There's always that one vegetable or fruit I can't get enough of.

Here's a cute little guy volunteering in the garden.  The yard has mostly prickly pear cactus.  This is the only cactus of this variety I've seen.  I'm not sure what the little white puffs are.  Probably spiders...sigh.

I decided to take a few leaves of the chard.  I gave them to the rabbits who get very excited and act like a woman getting chocolate. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Seed Blitz

Today the little one asked if we could plant some seeds.  Sure!  Let me drag out all the seeds and let's go plant them all...everywhere.  Let's not label anything either.  I like a nice surprise.  We also planted some experiments.  Ever wonder what you get when you plant beans and watermelon seeds in the same hole?  Us too. 

An unfortunate part of the landscape is having to cage everything in so the cats can't dig and pee all over it.

The onions I recently planted are looking very happy.  The green part is thick and firm to the touch, which means they are settling into their new home nicely.  

 Also in prison is this huge Swiss chard plant.  It's been around for a couple of seasons.  It likes to mock the cats. 

I found a small bunch of spinach growing which I didn't plant.  There always seem to be some surprise volunteers in unexpected places.

I really hope this bed turns out well.  I took all my variety of greens and fennel seeds and mixed them all up and then planted my rows.  I'm hoping it will grow with a variety of color and texture.  

I had been racking my brain trying to figure out what to plant along the fence line.  I want something pretty that grows well and the deer won't eat.  I walked by this bush in our yard so many times.  If only I could find something that grows huge and the deer won't eat.  Hmm.  Gosh, I wish this really huge deer resistant bush would stop getting in my way.  Oh!  I'll be buying some more of these soon.  It's a Salvia bush.  It also attracts humming birds.  I'm sure the cats will like that except humming birds are insanely fast and they like to fly around very early.  

The little one has been practicing with her bow and arrow.  I'm no expert but I would say I'd better like the taste of cardboard if I ever have to rely on her for hunting food.  She also shot a cactus.  Getting the arrow out taught her she should think things through or she might be getting herself into a prickly situation.