[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
I have to find the software before my camera can attempt to upload photos to this temp laptop, so this is a pathetically picture free entry, which is why I've been delaying it.

I really hate talking gardening without inundating you with pretties.

Maybe I can come back and add the pictures later and it will look like a real entry. ;)

Lucy has been spotted multiple times in the neighborhood. If there were some way to catch her I would, but alas.

The chicks are grown enough to be in the pen now, but so tiny compared to Top Chicken, who is still my most reliable layer despite being a year older than anyone else in there. The bantams, Fluffy Buffy, Tiger, Nana, and Raven, are adorable in their difference, and absolutely frightened of everything except people. Rooster is huge, but has not yet crowed, so we'll see. Rooster thinks sie is a duck; plays in water and walks on the female ducks. Little Red thinks that Rooster is the bestest thing EVER. They are inseparable, they even sleep together. 0.o

The ducks need their own entry, because watching multiple marriage, fowl style, is just hysterical.

The tomatoes are doing well. I've gotten four large tomatoes off the Patio tomato, the Roma has a ton of fruit on it, several of which are starting to ripen, and the various heirloom tomatoes are looking good. I have baby tomato plants doing fairly well in my kitchen window, taken from the...thing...the little branch that tries to grow that you pull off...I forget what that is; I've been putting the ones from the heirloom varieties in seed starter mix and seeing how many want to become new plants. 8 so far are looking good. No idea whether they are Mr Stripey, Homestead, of Black Krim though, because I don't label things sufficiently. ;P

I think I have proven the fact of companion planting. One bed has two tomatoes, a Black Krim and a Homestead (I have four Homesteads, two Black Krims). Those two tomatoes are INSANELY tall. I've had to tie up the cages, because the plants were tipping over the cages and crushing the other bedding plants. Why are those two so tall and such a darker green then their compatriots? I strongly suspect it is because there are two basil plants and a tansy in that bed. Tansy to keep away insects, Basil to make nightshade happy. There will be more basil here soon. Oh, no! Don't throw me in that brier patch! Anything but that! (A reference the current generation of children will not get-along with clapping to save fairies).

The peppers are doing well. I've harvested several banana peppers already, and have lots of bells on the plants getting big. The beans have a few *tiny* little beans growing out of previous blossoms, 4 or 5 that I noticed today. I'm still harvesting some arugula, though it does keep blooming in the heat so it is a bit more tart than usual. Fortunately I like that.

The blueberries are suffering. .The rain barrels are empty now, so they are getting hose water. They do not like it ("or it gets the hose again" just floated through my head). Our water is EXTREMELY alkaline. :( Various suggestions and internet searching has me now putting the hose water into an empty rain barrel to about half full, letting it sit for 48 hours, then dumping in a bottle of apple cider vinegar just before I water via soaker hose. That seems to be helping a bit, as they have some tiny new leaves coming in again. ~whew~ May be able to save them yet.

The squash and zucchini and the volunteer plants have TONS of blossoms all over them. I really hope things get fertilized so we can see what the volunteers are. :P

The potato plants are finally starting to peek up a bit. I have some more to throw in and then it is time to cover them again. :P

Mental note for for future: Do not plant anything next to the chicken pen that you aren't growing to feed *to* the chickens. It just does not work.

Other problem seems to be spider mites and some sort of tiny white mites which are attacking the tomatoes and *decimating* the marigolds. I have made up a garlic and pepper tea, and we'll see if that helps. ~crosses fingers~

Strawberries are doing well, though now that the tomatoes are high they are very much shaded. :)  Okra is just sad. Like a lot sad and very tiny. And the beans by the back are being eaten by something...I suspect something that roams the night since I've now had several mornings of "huh, I now have one less plant than I had before, how annoying is THAT!?!".

We bought mallard deritive ducklings at Easter. Yes, that was dumb. Dang they are fun though. It has yet to be determined whether they will go straight to the freezer at adult weight, get their wings clipped and go loose in the yard, or have a ramp built and be encouraged to enjoy the creek while still considering our yard for nommy treats.

They really are fabulously fun. We have the play yard set up and a casserole dish has been temporarily made into a pond so we can sit in with them and laugh at how ridiculous they are.  Looks to be a Mallard (Jane the Strange-Peaches duck), a Peking (Sunny, Monkey's) and a...something that looks like it is a mix of both, with pink AND black on both bill and feet. That would be Peepers, my duck. Monkey likes to hunt pillbugs so that Peaches can hand feed the ducklings. I prefer to sit until a fly lands on me then lean slowly forward until the mallard, Jane the Strange, notices... she eats the fly right off me. I find this amazingly satisfying for some reason.

The whole thing strikes me as odd...like adopting a kitten when you don't want a cat. At least we can eat them when they get bigger though. Try that with a kitten and you get in all sorts of trouble. ("If you're so evil: Eat. This. Kitten!")

The lack of rain has been hard on just about everything. I do not enjoy living in the Sims game.

rosebud;!;!;!;!;!;!;!;!;!;!
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Today, K came over and helped out. This, coupled with the help from Big Event and the random tree removal folks, means that despite my plummeted mood (hello, Depression, who invited you?) things are still toddling along.
cut for pics and such )

Harvest

Nov. 11th, 2009 03:58 pm
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Of the many different garden chores, I rank harvest right up there as the most fun. Sure, planting is neat; all that possibility, the different shapes of the seeds, but really, we garden to get produce right? :D

Today we got a basket full. :)

Happy Harvest to you all!



Beans!

Oct. 10th, 2009 01:04 pm
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Worked a tiny bit outside in the omg-it's-cold this morning. We put up a  temporary top to the end of the chicken pen (the garden_ladies motto: better half ass than not at all) to give them some dry area the next time it rains. (I was very worried about my ladies last night, all damp from rain when the temperature dropped like a stone).

Then we poked around the garden. This has definitely been a "live and learn" sort of year.

*The tomatoes on the side of the house: nothing. no blossoms, no fruit. The ones in the driveway: working their asses off.

Lesson learned: Sometimes if something isn't doing well, you just need to try a different spot. Don't be so attached to your chosen location you aren't willing to start over.

*If you have quarterly pest control on your house, please note that certain plants will not appreciate what happens if you spot ants inside and the pest people treat the outside perimeter of the house. While the okra doesn't care, many kinds of squash will be massively unhappy with the results.

Lesson learned: next year, most plants get put at least 6-8 feet from the edge of the house, to allow for pest treatment.

*Many of the plants are doing better now that the heat has dropped off and the rains have come, even in the face of weird temperature fluctuations. Meanwhile some friends had a garden doing much better than ours which was semi-shaded by grape vine. And another acquaintance in town had much better luck than we did with his tomatoes, basil etc....and was using a steady drip irrigation system. 

Lesson learned: Summer in Texas is now harsh harsh harsh. Very high temps and months on end of drought are not what even "Texas adapted" plants are used to. Since I personally think we are seeing the effect of global warming, and not just some once-a-decade drought, perhaps it is time to start adapting some techniques from traditionally harsher climates (I tend to think Africa, b/c I'm most familiar with some of the systems tried there) during the summer.  Hopefully we can take a shot at semi-shade gardening next year, as well as a more steady drip irrigation system.

*I have spent this year thinking of myself as the "money management" for the garden, and GS as the "effort and expertise". Perhaps it is time to renegotiate. I say this because, quite frankly, we are looking more and more like a long term sort of affair (crosses fingers and knocks on wood to distract self from inner commitment-phobic panic)....and because this morning I took great joy in helping her pick beans from the garden, and wasn't bored and antsy while she talked about the squash, melons etc. I think I would like to be a bit more hands on, and not just in the "I do the fencing" sort of way. Add in the fact that our budget has shifted in such a way that if we *want* to have money for things, we are going to have to work together to achieve that goal.....and, well, might be time to take another look at our assigned functions.

Lesson learned: just as in a garden, a home and a relationship can often function better if everyone's roles aren't too strictly segregated.


And now, the beans!



[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!

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