What's wrong with this picture? I built Garden Alcatraz...four rail wood fence, hog wire, chicken wire and half of the fence has electric wire on top and on the bottom to keep the horses off. The "cute liitle bunny wabbit" is in WITH the vegetables! UUGHH! I know the fence works, because I spent 15 minutes in 95 degree heat chasing him around and he couldn't get out through the fence. A couple of characters from my childhood that were the "villians" in some of my favorite stories came to mind as I was sweating and swearing, "Kill the wabbit, Kill the wabbit!", in pursuit of this furry little nuisance, Elmer Fudd and Mr. McGregor. Boy, how things have changed...I now despise Bugs Bunny and Peter Rabbit!
Why grow your own vegetables? Just take a look at our first tomatoes. As I sliced some up for dinner tonight, I had to remind myself that I wasn't chopping sirloin for stew. Unfortunately, this photo doesn't even come close to the incredible deep, dark red of these amazing tom's! Call me crazy, but they were so beautiful that I left them on the cutting board like a bouquet of flowers to be admired, until everyone got a good look, before I tossed them in the pot. I just love pretty food!
The "Great Potato Experiment" has drawn to a close and we came to a few interesting conclusions. If you recall back from blog post, dated 3/14/2011, I planted some seed potatoes in a garbage can cut in half. I also planted a handful directly into a raised bed. I waited for the green tops to flower and start to die off pretty good before harvesting.
As you can see in the pictures below, I easily pulled the garbage can off the potatoes and broke apart the mound. There were a decent amount of potatoes, but seemed smaller than the ones that I planted directly into the ground. Also, I found significant ant damage to many of the potatoes in both circumstances. Will treat soil with DE (Diatamcious Earth) next time I plant. If I had a garden with limited planting space, I would recommend using the garbage can situation. But I think next spring, I will devote more bed space to my plantings. I still will use the garbage cans. Another factor in regards to potato size may be that I need to get them planted sooner. It got very warm down here early and that may have effected the potato. We have eaten about half of them, and they were extraodinarily creamy and yummy!!!! Just as I had hoped. The thought of eating our own organic potatoes made us "giddy"! Grocery store potatoes are one of those vegetables that are inundated with chemicals.
Kale seed pods
I don't care if you have a million dollars or zero dollars, everyone loves a deal! Free being the best deal of all! Since I don't till the gardens, one of the benefits is that we are starting to get is "free" plants. This year, we have about 5 tomato plants, basil, kale, onions, cantalope and tons of my favorite, the beautiful Cleomes that all came back on their own. Not tilling the beds, allow any seeds from plants to regerminate. I am also collecting seeds from many different plants as the season goes on. Asparagus, kale, radishes, sunflowers, and cleome so far. The procedure thus far has been to clean the garden beds of dead or "past" plants and start to re-energize them with compost for a few months. ie: horse manure, chicken poo, grass clippings, leaves and table scraps. Everything gets layered on top of each other as time goes by and just sits for months. I don't turn or disturb it. I do try to top it off with a layer of grass clippings or leaves. Over time, it creates a "skin" and come spring, (or planting time) I just make a little hole, drop a seed or plant. A great by product of this "technique" is that I have noticed there are many fewer weeds. I have just pulled all my pea plants up and will now be composting for a month or so in these beds. They should be in great shape for fall plantings
After getting back from a weekend of goat showing and not eating as well as we should, it felt so good to grab a basketfull of veggies from the garden and chow on a huge raw veggie salad topped with a balsamic vinaigrette. Totally makes all the hardwork worth it when you see your kids happily crunching away on a completely organic meal rolling their eyes as if it were an ice cream cone. No lie!
I planted, what I thought was a "ton" of peas, but I have found we are all munching on them raw for snacks and using them on our salads. I don't think we will have that many to freeze, which is what our goal was in the first place! Next year, they will get double the space. They deserve it! Totally yummy!
The garden has officially left the starting gate! Finished getting in my last seeds and seedlings today (with the exception of eggplant - next week). Finished planting zucchini, yellow squash, bush beans, pole beans, okra, tomatoes, peppers, basil, parsley, sweet potatoes and cucumbers. The peas, asparagus, radishes, lettuces, kale, beets and perennial herbs are well on their way growing nice and strong. It was a beautiful day today, a little cloudy and breezy around 70 degrees. I couldn't help but feel a little bad for my loved ones living in Massachusetts getting a nor easter today....but then the moment past as I pulled off my sweatshirt!
Check out how wonderful my experimental potatoes are coming along! I'm told when they start to flower you can harvest, but if you wait a couple of extra weeks, you will get more of a baked potato size.
Our resident nosey body, Monty, is always curious when we work in the garden. Polka always follows just in case there may be something for him. Whenever I walk the fenceline to check the electric, Monty walks with me...not to close... but always interested in what I am doing. I always make sure to explain to him what I'm doing! You never know, right?! Or maybe they just enjoy watching humans work!
FYI - HONEY UPDATE - Her due date is this Sunday
The great thing about gardening is that you can easily put on the hat of scientist and the garden is your laboratory. Potatoes are one of those food items if we don't buy organic, we don't buy it. Commercial potato growers spray massive amounts of chemicals to kill the foliage before harvesting the potato from the ground. Potatoes have a soft, porous skin...you do the math. So to say the least, we were very excited about growing our own. Our feed store got in a few sacks of "seed potatoes", and I picked up some red and gold for planting. You can't use the ones from the grocery store, because they are treated with an agent that prevents buds from sprouting. (Another reason to buy organic!) It was suggested to me by a friend not to cut them and plant them directly into the soil, rather cut them and let them air dry (out of direct sunlight) until they harden up a little on the cut sides. It is supposed to reduce possible rotting when planted. I quartered them, placed them on trays and let them sit for about a week on my kitchen table. The above picture is what they looked like prior to going into the ground.
Another nifty idea is to plant them in stacked tires or a garbage can. As you can see, I opted for the garbage can which I "sacrificed" by cutting it in half and removing the bottom. I've heard, it makes harvesting very easy, just tipping over the containers and pulling out the taters! I planted 2 levels of potatoes. If this method is successful, we will be able to easily double or triple our plantings with more barrels, since they free up so much garden space planted this way.
Fingers crossed, hopefully we will be harvesting our own organic potatoes!!
Stay tuned!! :)
True love is waiting 2 years to eat asparagus from the garden! I planted asparagus from seed two years ago and this is the spring we will get to finally eat some! Asparagus is one of those wonderful perennial vegetables that you can count on for up to 20 years. The front load investment is that you need to let all the spears grow without cutting any for the first two growing seasons so the rhizome can fully develop and get strong for a long life of harvesting. You still need to be careful even when you are harvesting not to over-harvest the plant and leave some of the spears to grow out. I have 4 beds planted, which should be enough for our family. (For me anyways!)
Could not be any happier...out pullin' weeds from our vegetable beds getting them ready to plant some seeds. Putting in some carrot, radish, spinach, lettuces, brussel sprouts, peas, beets and potatoes! Our vegetable garden is wedged between the horse pasture and the chicken coop. It was a wonderfully warm day today with a breeze. There are definitely moments that work isn't at all "work-like".
Worked this week pulling everything in that is not going to like the upcoming below freezing temp's we are going to get this weekend. I pulled an overflowing, 6 gal bucket of bell and banana peppers! Love those peppers and, yum, so good for you!
Getting all the beds cleaned and doing our final week-wack, so we can do one last mowing for the year! Yeah!!