Friday, April 30, 2010

Just Pics

What started out as a soggy day...

...ended beautifully!
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Rain=House Cleaning

Refreshing April Shower

Yea!  Someone needs to make it easier to get sarcasm across in a post.  Well, since I can't do much outside today, I'll just clean house.  Friday is my usual day to clean a little more thoroughly anyway, but I would rather pull weeds in 100 degree heat than clean and fold laundry.  I do this on Fridays because Saturday is our church day.  So, each week we take that day to rest.  After all, God did.  Tonight my sister will also be here, so it will be nice ancd clean when she gets here too..  So I guess I had better get off of Blogger and get to work!

Flowers and Greenery

The garden is basically in a stage of not needing much more than watering.  Everything has been planted, the weeds are at bay for now, and things are just starting to come up.  Yesterday there was some okra and potatoes poking their heads out of the ground.  I have said before that I will do whatever I can organically.  This includes pest control.  To help with that I planted some marigolds by the tomatoes and nasturtium in with the squash.  A great book to find out what kinds of thing there are for organic pest control is, Carrots Love Tomatoes.  It is also great for the Oklahoma gardener because its author is from Oklahoma and knows what special problems we face around this area.

Marigolds and Nasturtium
Since the veggie garden is taking care of itself (I still need to put some straw down), yesterday I focused on my flower beds.  All of my beds are in the shade, I naturally (no pun intended) chose shade flowers.  One thing about them is finding enough variety to make a bed interesting.  I see so many that are just green hostas.  I love hostas, but I like a little color as well.  I chose some caladium with different shades of red and pink.  I found some coral bells that look good with those colors.  The foliage is purple and the flowers will be white.  They will not bloom until next year.  I planted some 2 years ago but the ducks ate them last year so they never bloomed.  UGH!  Right now I just have two flower beds planted.  We are making plans to put in a small pond next to the deck.  Then I will plant more around and in it. I also have a few pots on the front porch.

Just so you know, I am a Longhorn, not a Cheater, I mean Sooner.

One of our Oklahoma problem is the wind.  Yesterday we had gust up to 45 mph.  My strawberries in the Topsy Turvy aren't faring too well.  They are really taking a beating.  The peppers and tomato look alright though.

You cant really capture the wind in a photo, but trust me, it was windy!

In Elijah's climbing tree we have a little nest of wrens holed up.  Why they chose that tree with him constantly in it is beyond me, but every year we have a pair of wrens make their home there. 

Easiest bird house I'll ever make!

Our other birds (chickens and ducks) are laying a bounty of eggs.  I have a fridge full of eggs right now.  I do mean full.  There are about 30 dozen chicken eggs and 10 dozen duck.  Just now a friend brought me a bowl of guinea eggs.  They are really cute, if an egg can be cute.


Guinea-Thanks, Deborah!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Same Old, Same Old

Well, we are just sitting around and waiting for something to happen. The mustard is still the only thing that has come up. I take that back, there was some spinach poking through too. Today I just mowed the yard and then watered and fertilized the garden and flower beds.

A couple of days ago we put some strawberries and peppers in Topsy Turvys. I don't normally plant strawberries because they seem to take up too much time and space and we get very little in return. They don't seem to be faring too well in the planters.  They are really getting whipped by the wind.  Elijah wanted to plant some fruit (besides tomatoes he said), so we are giving them a go. I'm tyring to be optimistic about them.

The strawberry fiend, Elijah.  Actually fiend is rather appropriate!

In my flower beds, I added some caladiums.  I will probably get some more later to fill in a little better.  All of my flower beds are in the shade, so it is hostas and caladiums that I use for the most part.  I do have some calla lilies as well.


That's really all that has gone on this week.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Something New

It's a cool April morning. A bit windy out, but this is Oklahoma. Yesterday we had a few showers so everything is nice and fresh. I was able to get all the hay put on the garden, but I will need a few more to finish it. It usually takes 6-7 to do it when we have it fill size (64x33.5'), so we figured 3 would easily do it. This year the garden is 32x33.5' Well, normally packed bales would do it. These were very loosely packed so they don't go nearly as far.

I found my mustard greens are sprouting, but so far nothing else. I have never grown mustard greens, but Jeff likes them so I thought we'd give them a try. Each year I try to grow something new. It may just be a different variety of something I always grow, like tomatoes, or something completely new to me. This year it is the greens, a Russian heirloom tomato called "Black Prince", and some white scallop squash.

This is probably the only way you should ever eat a black tomato.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Resting Up

Well, the garden is, for the most part, finished.  I still need to find some spaghetti squash seed or plants and  put hay on the rest of the garden, but for the most part it is ready to just be pampered.  Today, I took the day off from the garden.  I did go out and take some covers off of my bell peppers.  It was stormy last night, so I wanted to be sure the hail didn't get them.  No hail anyway.  We moved three more hay bales to the garden.  Sunday I hope to get them strung out.  I also bought some strawberries.  Elijah wants a Topsy Turvy for strawberries, so I we decided we would get one of those and see how we fair.  The tomato in the Topsy Turvy didn't fair to well in the wind last night.  We think it got to twirling in the wind and snapped off.  I put a more mature one in today.  I'm hoping this one does well.


I had hoped to keep track of the rain this year.  Elijah had our rain gauge turned upside down.  They don't catch much water that way.  Go figure.

I guess we'll never know!

The 7th is about to begin with a beautiful sunset.  Not my 7th day in the garden, someone else's 7th day.  Besides, His garden was much more impressive!  Now it's really time to rest!

I'm sure it is more spectacular without the tree in the way!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Always A Day Behind...

...Not in what I have to do in my garden, but in what I thought today was. I thought that today was the 21st instead of the 22nd. No big deal. What is a little weird is that while today is Earth Day and I don't normally focus too much on it. Don't get me wrong. I do what I can to reduce, reuse, recycle. I try to be energy efficient (mostly to save money). We plant a garden, raise chickens and ducks, and do as much of that as we can reasonably do in an organic method. We are, however, far from being tree huggers. I guess the weird thing is some of the things I did today as far as the 3 "R's" go.

First, as I am planting my garden today, I remembered that we have an old laundry sink out in the chicken pen. For several years we have toyed with the idea of using it to wash up veggies and duck eggs. (Ducks don't lay in a box like the chickens will, so they are always covered in dirt and poo.) I went and got it and brought it up to the garden, now all we have to do is hook a hose up to and it will be great! I also put it on an old table saw base that was just junking up the yard. It was headed to the landfill.

Two other things I did are for the garden. That involves what I planted. I found some very nicely sprouted potatoes under my sink. We don't eat a lot of potatoes, so it seems we always have several go bad. So I just threw them in the ground. It's a little late to plant potatoes, but they were free and close to rotting. I also planted some onions. These were green onions that had gotten very wilted and so I threw them to the chickens. Guess what, I found something that the chickens won't eat. After a couple of days I decided to stick them in the garden as well. They still had the roots, so we'll see.

I also found a basket in the yard and planted some flowers in it. It sits nicely in the shade and I should get some nice wildflowers pretty soon.

So, as you see, I am not a tree hugger by any stretch of the imagination, but I do what I can, when I can.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A New Appraoch

Finally, it is going in! This year we are trying a new approach to planting. If you have ever gardened, you know that there is a lot of prep work before you can even begin to put in a plant or seed. Several years ago, the spot we chose for our garden was a lawn. Around these parts, lawns are generally Bermuda grass. This grass is a very tolerant grass. It tolerates heat, drought, and traffic. Unlike fescue and rye, in the winter it does not remain green , but turns brown and goes dormant. It is not dead, just resting for the next season of longer days and warmer temperatures. It can grow thick and lush and just about anywhere that isn't full shade. It spreads through runners as well as seed. These runners can be a great thing for filling in bare spots, or they can be the bane of your existence when they get into a flower bed or garden. Bermuda is in fact not just tolerant, it is hard to kill!

Anyway, back to the garden spot. Having been a lawn of Bermuda, we knew we would struggle with keeping it under control in our garden. If you just till it under, all you have done is make it stronger. It sends it's roots deeper into the soil and the runners that are now underground become like anchors. I have pulled these out of our garden that are over two feet long. Our solution? Roundup! It seemed to work like a dream. The summer before we move the garden we would spray the area about once a week. Roundup only works on the green plants, so we would have to repeatedly spray to get the grass that was still dormant or that hadn't made it through the ground up to the sunlight. The next spring we fertilized with chicken poo, tilled it in and planted away. Things looked great until about June. That's when it happened. The Bermuda that had made it through our genocide on grass and a thick layer of straw, came back with a vengeance. Now rooted deeper than before and angry, it was not nearly as willing to give up the fight as we were. By mid July it just became a job of keeping it somewhat controlled while we harvested what it hadn't taken over-tomatoes!

After a couple of years of this battle, we tried a new tactic last spring. Cardboard. Yep, cardboard. We had read about a lady who uses newspaper to cover her garden and then she covers that with straw. Granted, she lives up north where Bermuda and other runner grasses are not used much, but we thought we'd give it a shot. After covering the garden with composted horse manure, we loaded up on cardboard boxes and laid those over the garden. The next thing we did was put wood chips over the whole thing. After the ice storm the year before the electric companies were trimming all the trees around power lines to lessen the damage and wood chips were free for the taking. They even delivered them. I was skeptical. After all we were battling Bermuda, but to my amazement, it worked! We had a few stays come in here and there but they were easily eradicated. We had pretty much a grass fee garden for the first time ever!!

So why a new approach this year? Well, decomposing wood chips drain your garden of nitrogen. Therefore, we have a grass free garden, but also a nitrogen poor garden. Half of it we have turned over to the ducks. They will turn the wood chips over and they will continue to decompose. The ducks will keep the grass rooted out (check out how well they have kept the grass and weeds away from the garden's edge) as well as any grubs or other undesirable pests. This fall we will plant a nitrogen producing ground cover and then till it in the next spring. For the half of the garden we are planting, we are using another no till method. Planting in bags of potting soil. Mother Earth News says you can do it, so we are trying it out. We'll see how it goes!

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

On the First Day

Okay, I am definitely not trying to take the place of the Creator of the universe.  I am just a gardener who is getting started for the 2010 growing season.  So on this, "National Weed Day", I have gotten started on my garden.  Now the kind of weed I am concerned with is far different than the "weed" those who are supporting this day want recognition for, but I will fight just as had against my garden weeds as I will against what this day stands for in the eyes of some.

Now to gardening.  Last night we got our bags of garden soil arranged in the garden.  We will need 7 more to finish it off, but for the most part that is done.  How can I be so sure I will need 7 more?  Do I have some complicated formula to figure the yardage I needed?  No.  We are planting right in the bags.  It's just a form of no till gardening.  We have never used this method before, so we aren't sure how it is going to work.  That is one thing I will be keeping track of in this blog.  Another new thing we are doing is using a Topsy Turvy.  That is part of an experiment for our little boy, Elijah.  We planted one tomato in it and one in a 5 gallon bucket.  We will keep track of all kinds of things for that.  First bloom, first tomato, first ripe tomato, how many pounds we get, and maybe other things as well.

What's wrong with this picture?

No tilling required

Today we got the tomatoes and some of our peppers planted.  Then I put seeds out for the other things.  Here is a list of what we have so far:
Bell (red and yellow) and banana peppers
Romaine, leaf, and Bibb lettuce
Green and black beans
Yellow squash-crook and straight neck

Better Boy Tomatoes

Still to be planted:
spaghetti squash
bell peppers (orange and purple)
2 undetermined veggies

I have asparagus waiting to push through for the first time this season and lots of basil in pots on the deck along with chives that are blooming their round purple flower heads.  I will add to the herbs some rosemary, thyme, and oregano.  Maybe some parsley and a few other things.



We have several days forecast for thunderstorms so I may not be able to get back into the garden for a while, but the ard is mowed, the flowers have been fertilized, and at least some og the garden is in.

Patiently waiting their turn

Life Began in a Garden

I love to garden!  I like to plant flowers and work in the yard, but what I really love is my veggie garden!  I'm not sure why I prefer it over the flowers.  Flowers add beauty and calm.  Some add fragrance that is breathtaking.  A beautiful green lawn is so relaxing.  To be able to walk through a freshly mowed green carpet in your bare feet is blissful.  But a beautiful, well-maintained vegetable garden is something to behold.  It will feed your family (I suppose you could eat your grass or pansies if you like), the smell of freshly tilled dirt.  The satisfaction of seeing a weed-free space that earlier in the day was not.  Whatever the reason, there is just nothing like having a successful veggie garden.

I am hoping to help myself to keep better track of what I do in my garden that works, the things that don't.  So I can remember the things that I planted and what varieties worked best.  I may even keep track of how much I harvest.  We'll see.

I'll keep up with my veggies, flowers, and lawn. 

So let's get started with guarding the garden.

In the beginning.