[identity profile] gryphynshadow.livejournal.com
Today, I did a lot of work on the garden. I'm very proud of myself, and also quite pink and sore. :)

I had planned to be up by five thirty this morning, so I could take advantage of the cooler temperatures. My body had different plans, however, so I slept in till eight thirty.

Despite my late start, I did get my entire list of chores to be done in the garden cleared away. I've earned my afternoon/evening off!

I loosened the soil in the EarthBoxes in the driveway. Then I emptied the three that are missing pieces (the irrigation tube, and some of the underpinnings for the grate system in the bottom), mixed their soil with more sand, and rebuilt them. I used some PVC from a section of the sprinkler system in the backyard that we're taking out to replace the upright irrigation tubes, and set bricks in the bottoms to hold up the grate. I mixed compost into all the boxes, and then mulched them all with 5 inches of leaf litter.

I raked the leaf litter I used for mulch from the kidney shaped bed in the backyard -- the one we haven't done anything with yet. We still need to clear that bed out, and take out the giant honeysuckle of doom, and its leaning half rotted T post support. However, that wasn't on the list for today, and can wait for another massive gardening spree.

I worked up two beds on the North, North-East side of the house (and found another buried flagstone, while I was at it.) I used some of the lovely black rich dirt from there to fill 11 peat pots, and repotted the tomato seedlings.

Side note on tomato seedlings: tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers are all in the Nightshade family, and they all have one characteristic in common. They will all root from the stem, if buried, or in contact with soil. Gardeners use this characteristic to their advantage, when growing potatoes, and if they're wise, when growing tomatoes. For potatoes, as they grow, you 'hill up' the plants -- bury them, leaving the top six inches unburied. Every bit that you bury will become roots, and the roots will produce tubers. And it's the tubers that we eat!

Same deal with tomatoes, only, we don't eat the roots. When you start tomatoes from seed, before you set them out in their final location, you need to repot them. Move them from their little seedling trays into larger pots (not too much larger, just a bit will do). As you move them up, position them so that only the top with the leaves is above the soil -- bury the stem. Do this (according to Earl at the gardening class) twice before you put them out. Bury the stems to promote strong root systems. In harsh climates (and ours is harsh, especially right now), strong healthy root systems will support the plants better, creating healthier plants in general, and an increased yield.

So, today I potted up 11 tomato seedlings. I've got 3 Cherokee Purple, 4 Arkansas Traveler and 4 Bush Celebrity.

Also, if you're using the peat pots that you fill yourself with soil or potting mix, when you repot or transplant your young plants, peel off the peat pot. Yes, they will break down and biodegrade, eventually. However, it's the 'eventually' part that is tricky. I've set out plants from the home improvement store in those, and been able to get the peat pot back out of the ground at the end of the season. Peel the pot off so the roots of the plant can expand into the surrounding soil. It's what roots do, so why discourage them?

Lest you think I set up two garden beds and then did nothing with them, let me assure you that I did indeed make use of them. They now each have one cucumber seedling, and two okra seedlings in them. I'll let those get a good start, then in August, I'll set garlic out around them, and if I'm feeling frisky, some bush beans as well.

The EarthBoxes are ready and waiting for their tenants! By next weekend the tomatoes should be big enough to go into them, and the week after that will be pepper and bush bean time. Also in two weeks, I'll be setting up the bean tripods, and starting pole beans in the backyard. I still need to prep the beds they'll be in, and when it comes time to plant, I'll need to set aside space for the spinach, later in the season.

The garden is changing, on a daily basis, and it's so much fun to watch all the young plants growing! (The spaghetti squash is up to six inches tall already, and the first zucchini hill is 4 inches tall!)

Here's hoping everyone's fall gardens are healthy, productive, and fun!
[identity profile] gryphynshadow.livejournal.com
Today I got to spend a bit over three hours talking about gardening online with a friend! That was tons of fun. I feel like such an expert... :P  Really, it was more, lookie what I found, and look over here, and so and so said to do this, and I read that you can do it like this...

It was fun, and if anyone else wants to IM with me about gardening stuff, I am SO THERE!

After that, I went out to the garden to do a little cultivation. I wanted to break up the half circle bed, to start getting it ready for the beans that'll go in there. I must say, I love the new hoe we got. :) I broke up that section, cut out and pulled out some tree roots (the tree has been cut down, so they're just relics), and worked in some of the compost I'd spread in there.

Then, I went into the sunroom to start some more seeds. I put in tomatoes, okra, cucumber, and three varieties of pepper. I'd picked out, from the new seeds we got in, the squashes to direct sow. So, I went out to sow them.

I'd used sticks stuck in the ground to mark where I'd put the stuff I'd put in on Monday. I figured I'd put the new stuff near it's five day older brothers, just for convenience. I looked for my stick markers, and I found them. I also found something else...

My seeds came up!

All of them!  The cucumbers, the zucchini, the spaghetti squash, and the melons! All up! In five days!

I nearly died of the happy.

So, my baby plants have been joined out there by a golden variety of zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, an acorn squash, a butternut squash, and hale's best melon. Two hills of each. :D

(oh, there is something out there eating my new baby plants, too. I'm a bit irked by this... the spaghetti squash babies had holes, and one of the hills of melons had been eaten down to one tiny plant... die, pest, die.

After I got the new seeds in, I pruned back the tomatoes. A lot. I took one completely out, as it wasn't doing well at all, and pruned one down to just a stub (I want to see if it'll come back, since it had a couple of suckers I left on...) I took cuttings from everything, and stuck them in recycled jars and bottles with water to try to root them. Cherokee purple, arkansas traveller, rio grande and rutgers. Here's hoping!

I'm so silly happy about my seeds coming up, I think I'll just float on the endorphins for a while...

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Suburban Permaculture Project

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