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Posts Tagged ‘garden’

  
Last summer, a friend of mine brought me a baby pool for my dog that he found on Freecycle. 

Meghan loves to get in the baby pools at doggie daycamp, so I quickly pulled out the hose and began filling the pool.  

It didn’t take long to discover a large crack in the bottom of the pool.  Argh!!! The pool would not hold water.

What to do?  The pool was too large to fit in my car, so I couldn’t haul it to the dump.  My friend who brought it to me did not want to take it off my hands.  I was stuck…

…until I decided to try the pool as a planter.  Maybe it would work for carrots and beets, two things that don’t grow well in my mostly clay soil.

Fast forward a year, and I’ve finally gotten my act together to create my new planter.

 
I placed the pool on several layers of plastic, in an area of my back yard that gets afternoon shade.  According to the seed packets, this is necessary in a hot climate like mine.  

 
I then cut quite a few more holes for drainage.

  
I then mixed up some soil, sand, compost and manure. 

  
I pulled out the carrots, beets and parsley demi-long.  I think I ordered that last packet by mistake, as I have no idea what it is!

  
Carrots are on the left, parsley demi-long in the middle, and beets on the right.

We’ll see how my pool planter works.  Meanwhile, it’s time to pull out the new, leak-free baby pool so Meghan and I can cool off.

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060A few weeks ago, we had several days of sub-freezing temperatures, and my fall/winter garden took quite a hit.  The only survivor is a patch of baby collards.

While I know the kale and mustard will come back once the temperatures warm up a bit, I found myself missing being able to add freshly grown greens to my meals.  It was past time to turn on the seed table!

I started off planting only lettuce and microgreens.

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Next up was the spinach and turnip greens.

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The seed table is starting to fill up!

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Today I started a big bucket of sugar snap peas; they’re hiding from view, on the bottom shelf.

The plants in these pots and buckets won’t grow as big as those planted in a garden bed, but they’ll be fresh and tender and delicious in salads and smoothies! And hopefully tide me over until the weather’s nice enough to grow things outside.

What’s in your garden?

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I have a not-so-well-kept secret. Anyone walking in my yard immediately figures it out: I am not the world’s most immaculate gardener.

In the past few years, I’ve been able to divide my yard into “summer” gardens and “winter” gardens. And, for the most part, I’ve been able to get seeds in the ground on time so they have an opportunity to grow.

But I’m not so good about keeping on top of weeding and keeping the bushes trimmed.  Also, I’ve somehow been unable to clean up most of my winter garden beds after the plants in those beds have died.

The bad thing about my procrastination is that I never get cover crop in the soil to provide more nutrients. But, I’ve found that there’s also a benefit to my laziness: free plants!  Not only do many of the greens re-seed themselves in place — I haven’t bought kale seed for years! — but they also show up in unexpected areas.

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The Asian green above is living in a bed along with spring bulbs, pink yarrow and various weeds.   I planted the original seeds about five years ago; now the seed packet (and the memory of this green’s name) is long gone, but I still get to enjoy free food.

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The mustard greens, above, are growing in one of the pathways in my backyard.  Disregard the other weeds that are also thriving in the pathway.

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I must be especially bad about cleaning up mustard greens,  Because, in addition to the original bed in which they grew and the walkway above, a large patch  has sprung up on the side of my yard nowhere near any of my garden beds.   Yum yum!

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Besides greens, I find a lot of cornflowers in random places.  Usually, they sprout in the spring, but this poor guy got confused by our warm fall weather.  I hope the plant makes it through this current patch of cold temperatures, but if it doesn’t, I know that there will be more to take its place come spring!

Anyone else have a messy garden?

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About a month ago, I had my dog Nanaline put to sleep. Today, I summoned the energy to bury her cremains.

I dug a hole on the right side of this baby gardenia bush and placed her ashes there. The remains of her sis, Bailey, are on the left side.

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The remains of both dogs had been placed in a fancy wooden box. I threw away the boxes, preferring that their remains be able to disintegrate back into the earth. Even if I move, this yard was my dogs’ home and I’m happy with it being their final resting place.

So while I sat by the gardenia, contemplating the cycle of life, I couldn’t help but notice the fallen leaves that needed raking!

But before attempting that project, I decided it was past time to flip my compost piles.

Now is the time to admit that I’m a lazy composter. I throw sticks, leaves, food scraps and dead plants into my various piles. The rain will tamp the material down, then I add more. Once or twice a year, I’ll turn the piles.

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The photo above is from one of my larger compost piles. It’s hard to see, but there’s some black gold in there!

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I used a screen to separate out the already composted material from that which needs a little more time.

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I then took the not-ready-for-prime-time material and placed it in a newly emptied bin.

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I bagged up the compost to add to one of my beds that still awaits cover crop. My gardening work is never done!

I still have a few more piles to flip, so there will be some compost to place by the gardenia bush. And come spring, when the first white blossoms appear, I’ll once again sit by the bush, enjoy its fragrant flowers, and think happy thoughts about my dogs.

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Last weekend, I finally finished digging my last garden bed! This late addition to the summer garden now houses the extra tomatillo and basil seedlings that didn’t fit elsewhere.

Now that I’m finally finished constructing beds, it’s time to lock my shovel in the shed lest I be tempted to keep digging. It’s also past time to weed some flower beds, dead-head the roses, and basically switch to maintenance mode.

Phew!!!

I have already been enjoying some of the fruits of my labor: mostly squash, zucchini and green beans. And I’m excited to say that in the war against squash bugs, it’s currently MaryNell 1; evil bugs 0. Who knows how long that will last, but I have managed to can 14 pints of hot pickled squash as well as 4 pints of zucchini relish. Oh, and that doesn’t include all the squash I’ve eaten and shared. It’s been a good year!

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Still to come in the garden are corn (pictured above), potatoes and tomatoes:

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I’m looking forward to making some salsa with tomatillos…

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… and jalepenos:

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I can’t wait to try some fresh lima beans …

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… and to figure out how to season purple hull peas without oil or fatback:

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I’ve been harvesting the bush beans for awhile, but just noticed that my yard-long noodles are starting to appear …

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… as are the cucumbers!

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To be honest, I’ve been harvesting pickling cucumbers for the past week. On tomorrow’s agenda: refrigerator pickles!

So while I wait for the rest of the summer goodies to appear, I might as well steam up the last of the chard and snow peas. Writing about all this food has made me hungry!

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I have a very low-tech watering system consisting of numerous soaker hoses snaking through my garden beds.

When it’s time to water, I have to drag my main hose around the garden and connect it to the individual soakers. Then I set my timer and go do something else for thirty minutes. Lather, rinse, repeat…

While this is a much more efficient system than what I used to do (drag the hose out each night to water), it takes about five hours to completely soak the entire summer garden.

Why not get a fancy drip irrigation system with a timer, one might ask. And the answer is because I’m not mechanically or mathematically oriented. I need someone else to figure out what I need and install it.

So until I break down and hire a company to do this for me, I’ll continue with my low-tech version.

While it might be time consuming, I have discovered a secret benefit from my soaker hoses. After I have completed the entire cycle, it manages to rain!

The weather folks can predict rain for days on end, and nary a drop will fall at my house. Down the street, however, it pours… Anyway, today I was tired if waiting for the promised rain and completed the five-hour regimin. An hour later, it rained.

Same thing happened last week. So now I know: when I want rain, I need to water!

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There are many reasons why I garden, but one of the main reasons is having the ability to walk out the door and pick my supper.

On tonight’s menu: an almost totally homegrown meal: Happy Herbivore’s greens quiche made with swiss chard; steamed green beans; steamed squash and zucchini; and a salad with lettuce, radish, snow peas and green peas.

Delicious!

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