Garden 2015

Posted by: PerryMK

Garden 2015 - 02/22/15 06:12 PM

My garlic is still looking good and hopefully I can start digging it up in April.

Remember how I talked about saving seeds? Well, I planted my saved potatoes. I should know in a few weeks if they will grow or not. If all goes well I will be digging potatoes around May. If not, I will purchase started plants fro the nursery. No idea what though.

I decided to plant porch tomatoes (it gets too hot here for garden tomatoes) and also Serrano and Banana peppers for sauce. This year I am trying to start from seed for the first time. I bought a grow light with stand and the tomatoes took right off. All but one of the peppers failed to germinate initially though. So I bought a seed heat mat and within 24 hours a few of the peppers germinated! I bought a cheap cart from Harbor Freight to hold it all off the floor (Im paranoid about heat mats malfunctioning and being a fire hazard) and then removed the center beam with light lowering apparatus from the grow light stand and attached it to the cart with a couple of zip ties. I am using a towel to help keep the heat in the germination tray and will transfer the plants to under the grow light as they sprout.

All very exciting!

Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Garden 2015 - 02/25/15 11:38 PM

I like that set up. Good work on that.

I was hoping to get some potatoes planted this week too but we've had snow on the ground for almost two weeks now and the forecast is for more cold and maybe even some more snow tonight and tomorrow.

We've got to get a break soon though, and when we do I'll start getting things ready.

Thanks for inspiring me!!
Posted by: PerryMK

Re: Garden 2015 - 03/07/15 03:54 PM

All the saved potatoes that I planted have sprouted!
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Garden 2015 - 03/15/15 01:26 AM

Our weather just broke here, so I'll finally be working on my garden tomorrow. Things are still awful wet, but I'll get some stuff done out there.

My daughter, Lisa, just informed me tonight that she's got about 75 trees coming from the Dept of Conservation. She and her boyfriend have a big place, but that's a lot of trees so I'll be planting a few of those here too. She told me their website where she ordered them said:

"The best time to plant trees is ten years ago."

I couldn't agree more.

She's really become quite the gardener. She's wanting to figure out a way to make a living at it so we've been brainstorming some ideas. She's got the gumption to make it happen.

Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Garden 2015 - 03/15/15 01:27 AM

How's your germinator working out for you?
Posted by: DTape

Re: Garden 2015 - 03/15/15 05:07 AM

Still over a foot of snow covering my garden. Even when it finally melts, the soil will be soaked for quite some time. The raised beds will be ready sooner. I am hoping to put in a row of blackberry canes this year.
Posted by: PerryMK

Re: Garden 2015 - 03/15/15 06:44 AM

As of this weekend everything is off the heat pad and under the lights. I added a second light fixture to what you see in the photo. It turns out that some things germinate readily, like tomatoes. Others require the help of heat, like hot peppers. I transferred two of the tomato plants to an Earthbox self watering planter on the front porch. The rest of the tomatoes will be given away Monday. Some of the peppers should be ready for the garden in a week or two, some might take a little longer.

The potatoes are growing like gangbusters. Hopefully I will have plenty of spuds this year.

My success at seed saving potatoes has thinking about saving seeds from peppers and tomatoes, but first I should see how they turn out.

As an aside, I've been reading about expanding on the self-watering planter. The same concept has been applied to raised bed gardens but probably not well suited for large scale or commercial applications. A few articles can be found with a google search. I haven't seen much in the way of published books though except for one Kindle. I'll wait for that one to be a free download. I did find one undergraduate capstone project touching on the subject but it wasn't quite what I was looking for. Self-watering raised bed gardens, also called wicking gardens, is a neat idea when one has room for more than just a planter like an Earthbox but not enough room, need or desire for a larger garden. I think they would be well suited for small space and urban applications.

Posted by: hikerduane

Re: Garden 2015 - 03/18/15 02:03 PM

Received my Park Seed order last Saturday. Hope I can get stuff in early this year. Always seems to be something in the way. This year, remodeling my mobile home. Flooring is all that is left.
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Garden 2015 - 03/22/15 02:31 AM

My daughter decided to start a "Organic Gardening" service. It's an idea I had a couple years ago and something we've talked about since, and she's doing it. It's pretty much the same as a lawn mowing or landscaping service, except we'll be doing veggie gardens.

She's expanded on the idea of setting up and maintaining veggie gardens by offering Herb gardens, Bee, Butterfly, and Hummingbird gardens, and even Pet gardens. Plus, she's setting up a "Veggie Swap" between her clients so they can share what they've got a surplus of, and offering to bring surplus produce to local "Food Banks" for charity. That's pretty cool.

She's calling it "Victory Garden Works".

I told her I'd help her if she wanted to give it a shot so I'd already committed myself, but it wasn't really all about her. I've know for a few years now that I need to get away from sitting on my butt programming all day so this is really a blessing for me. I'll still code, but I'll spend as much time gardening as I can to help get this going with her. I'm really looking forward to seeing how it works out. It'd be great it we can turn it into a full time job.

She's already got 3 customers signed up, and they're all very excited about this too. I'm hoping it will really take off. I'd love to find a niche where I could work outdoors, and at right at home a lot to boot.

I got three good afternoons in on my garden this past week. Got things cleaned up good and a nice thick layer of burro processed organic hay compost on top of my raised beds. Lucky for me I spent some time putting the garden to rest properly last Fall and it's really paid off this year. The soil is richer than it's ever been, and the worms have really been working out there all Winter long mixing the compost and mulch I put out there.

Her and I made some new hoop tunnel row covers and we're starting some plants from seed to sell to her customers. I got about 100 set out so far, a mix of all non-GMO, organic, pole beans, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, watermelon, cantaloupe, squash and cucumbers. One of my burros, Lewis, stole two packs of seed off the tailgate of my truck and ate them, paper envelope and all. Turned out to be both packs of the Tomato seeds we'd bought. I told him he was an ass. He agreed. What can you do with that?

This year we made the hoops with 1/2" PEX and I tied string between the hoops to help keep them propped up straight, and then covered them with 3.5 mil visqueen. I've done this before with stuff I had lying around but the PEX works really good for this and should last a really long time.

I'll start seeding leaf lettuce and radishes under a few more covered rows tomorrow which should be table ready by the 1st week in May. We'll start hitting the local Farmer's markets as soon we've got produce to sell.

I'll take some more photos over the next few days. The weather forecast is pretty sweet so I should have time to get all my raised beds covered and planted or starting seedlings like the one below. I'll try to capture the progress, but I tend to get caught up in the work and forget to take pictures. This year I have some motivation to do that though. I'll be making a web site for her business so I'll need photos of what we're doing.

Posted by: PerryMK

Re: Garden 2015 - 03/22/15 09:35 AM

Sounds like an awesome business idea your daughter has there. I've had similar thoughts but am not sure I am the right person to convince people to pay me to do such things. I'd likely be giving away too much time and not diligent enough about collecting payment. But when I was 14 or so and living in northern Manitoba there was a Canadian youth work program and I landed a summer gig helping a retired couple care for their yard. It included mowing, tending the garden, and whatever else they might need a hand with. They were healthy enough, but just wanted to spend more time enjoying and less time maintaining, and could afford to pay a teen a few hours a week to help out. I loved it.

There was an article in todays paper about vertical gardening on a warehouse scale.

I've been dealing with a bad cold that morphed into an allergy attack but really need to spend a couple of hours mowing today. First mow of the season. I seldom get allergy attacks, maybe once every two or three years. We had some rain last night so hopefully the pollen won't be too bad while mowing.

I will also need to move a few peppers from under the lights and into the ground. Maybe later this week depending on how I feel.

Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Garden 2015 - 03/23/15 12:39 AM

Thank you Perry!

I think it's a great idea too, and she's got the gumption to make it happen. We live in an area with a lot of retirees, many who have some disposable income, so I think she'll do good here.

She really needs to do something like this. She manages a clothing boutique now, and it's a good job, but she's really always been an outdoorsy person and can get a little grumpy if she's locked inside too much. Probably my fault for dragging her around with me romping through the forest so much when she was young.

This business wouldn't have worked when I was her age, but people are a lot more aware now, and the GMO thing is yet another reason that motivates people. All three of her customers are women. They all want a garden, and want to get out and work in it, but they know how fast they can get out of control and the idea of someone keeping up on it with them is pretty appealing. They're not so concerned with saving money on the food though, and when you calculate that out there's some headroom to have someone come in and help manage it for you.

That vertical garden is pretty cool. I've seen a few new articles on similar indoor grow operations for salad veggies, but nothing close to that big. We've got a few people here that have set up big hoop and plastic greenhouses. One of them has two that must be at least 60'x25'. They supply local grocers and restaurants with leaf lettuce, spinach, herb, etc.

I have another daughter who lives in Destin, and her husband has been suffering with allergies too. Must be something blooming hard down there this year. Things are just budding out here. Looks like we're in for another short cold snap soon, but it shouldn't last long. We had snow in early April last year so it wouldn't be a surprise. Our average last frost isn't until April 21st, so I'm doing pretty good getting started, but leaf lettuces and radishes should be seeded right now, and potatoes should have be planted right now too.

I didn't get anymore seed started today, but I did get compost on the rest of my raised beds and some clean up work done. Supposed to be pretty nice tomorrow so I'll focus on getting some more seeds in containers and other stuff planted.

Here's a few more pics:

The far left row is Asparagus. It should be coming up pretty soon. This has done way better than I expected. I think I planted it 4-5 years ago now and it as low maintenance as anything you can grow.

And here's a pic of my two crew members. They're always very interested in what I'm doing in that garden. Of course, they know I'm growing treats for them too. They're pretty picky though, don't like asparagus at all, but they love tomatoes. Go figure?

Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Garden 2015 - 03/23/15 03:29 PM

My mouth is watering at the thought of garden-fresh asparagus! It looks as though the burro has spotted something interesting in there!
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Garden 2015 - 03/23/15 10:28 PM

Originally Posted By OregonMouse
My mouth is watering at the thought of garden-fresh asparagus! It looks as though the burro has spotted something interesting in there!

Mine too OM!!

I don't know if asparagus you buy in the store is organic, but it's hard for me to imagine why it wouldn't be. Mine comes up before the bugs come out, and I've never seen a bug on it. I'd like to try growing it from seed, but so far none has volunteered. I need to read up on propagating what I've got.

I got a few more hours out there today. I planted a bunch of peas and tomatoes in little starter containers I've saved from years previous. I've never tried growing tomatoes from seed before, so it's an experiment. It will get down to about 35 on Wednesday, so they won't be sprouting for a bit yet, and a cold snap could stunt them, but I want to see how it goes with them under the hoop tunnels. If the soil warms enough to keep the seedlings healthy it will be a boon, if not it will be a learning experience.

It's been in my plan since I started this garden to grow some melons, and this year the garden is ready. I started digging out the dirt in between the rows this afternoon and I'm going to mix a bunch of burrow compost with it and pile it up in a mound where I've got some space left on each end of the garden.

I found a baby turtle in there while I was digging. He looked okay so I put him under some leaves. I'll check tomorrow to see if he's still there. Now that I think of it I should've relocated him far away from the garden eek
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Garden 2015 - 03/28/15 09:16 PM

Our first round of thunderstorms this season found some weaknesses in my row cover. I made a few adjustments and it held up better in the second round the next day, but I still have to make a few more to get it right.

Supposed to be getting sunnier and warmer for a couple days so I'll be back to the garden if the forecast holds up.
Posted by: DTape

Re: Garden 2015 - 03/31/15 05:17 PM

Got seeds started indoors. Peas in the ground as`are seed potatoes. Here's to garden 2015!
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Garden 2015 - 04/01/15 11:54 PM

Originally Posted By DTape
Got seeds started indoors. Peas in the ground as`are seed potatoes. Here's to garden 2015!

I'll raise a beer for that DTape!!

Our garden is coming along pretty good. I've been busting my butt for the past few days on in it. I didn't do much today, but I've been digging the dirt out from in between my rows and building new beds with it. I'm mixing it with compost from my burros, leaves, rotted hay and straw, and adding a little lime, epson salts, and chicken manure.

I've been laying a thick layer of straw/leaves in between the rows to help keep moisture in and weeds out since I dug the trenches when I made this garden. The worms work that into the pure clay in the bottom of the trenches and turn it into very rich black soil. I'm amazed at how much I've dug out of those first two rows, and then next two have even more because I've let them sit a couple more years without digging them out.

I think this is the second time I've done this, but the first time I just piled the dirt on top of the rows. They've grown too big for that again. I have to either shaven them down or wall up the sides. I've been planning on walling up the sides since I made the garden, so I'll probably start that this year with one or two of the rows.

Here's a photo of the dirt being dug from the second trench. You can sort of get an idea how deep below the normal ground level the trenches are (about 6"-8"), and how high the raised beds are here (9"-12"). I've got three more trenches to dig out :

Here's the new beds I'm putting in with the dirt I got from digging them out. I'm using scrounged cinderblock to wall them up. The far right bed one has a thick layer of straw mulch on it. I'll plant watermelons there. With the good rich dirt scraped off down to the clay and the straw piled up to fill the trench, I won't have any weeds growing in between my rows there this year. The few weeds left on the sides of the raised bed have flowers blooming on them that the bees are gathering pollen from, so I'll leave them for a bit yet:

The seedlings are sprouting!

And so is the Asparagus!!

And this is what it looked like just before I came in tonight:

And last, but not least, is a link to the website I'm building for my daughter's business. I'm working on filling in the "Lorem ipsums" in the late evenings and early mornings. It's not done yet but it's close enough to show to friends:

Victory Garden Works
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Garden 2015 - 04/05/15 12:36 AM

Well my daughter quit her job today. She's not been happy managing retail stores for awhile and she decided she wanted to go full on with her Garden Service and instructing Cross Fit classes.

I'm proud of her. It's family thing maybe, but there hasn't been a Stephenson that didn't start a business and work for themselves since at least the late 1800s so I've been sort of expecting she would too.

I've been working on her website and it's pretty close to being complete now, and I've started about another 140 seeds in pots the past couple days and made another covered row to get them started.

We had a tornado ripping stuff up not far from us a few nights ago. We sat down in the basement where I have my office now and watched it go about six miles south of us on the NOAA radar. It really didn't get bad here, but I could here it rumbling and see the lightning from the basement window. Anyway, my hoop tunnels held up pretty good through that, so I was happy about that.

Most of the seeds I planted first are really coming up strong now. No tomatoes yet though. They should've sprouted, but haven't yet, and there are a few other no shows in the flats I seeded.

I think I got enough seeds started now, and I've got three more rows to dig out. I'm going to finish filling in the bed in the photo and then make another like it on the other end of the garden. This is adding a lot of planting area this year, probably around a 100 sq ft.

I'm going full on Ruth Stout on my garden this year. I'm going to pile so much mulch on it that weeds don't have a chance to grow and I'm going to keep piling it on until I fill in the trenches to the top of the rows

We'll see how that works out...
Posted by: PerryMK

Re: Garden 2015 - 04/05/15 01:09 PM

I set a few peppers on the porch for some air. They'll go back under the lights in a little while. Hopefully they can go in the garden in a week or two.

Porch tomatoes in an Earthbox. I have a rainwater downspout cistern hooked up so all I do is turn a knob to water them.

Garden. Planted some of the peppers today, on left. Potatoes growing like gangbusters in the middle. Garlic on the right is almost ready.

Blackberries. Only a couple of years old and birds get most of them.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Garden 2015 - 04/05/15 05:36 PM

Assuming that frame is over your berry patch, you might want to invest in some netting, to cut down on bird depredations!
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Garden 2015 - 04/07/15 02:08 PM

That's looking great Perry!

I love the cistern and earth box set-up. I need to work on something to capture water. My garden is a long way from any of my rooftops to gather it from, and about 15-20 feet above our pond, which is closer and would be great water for it, but I'd have to rig a pump and power to it.

I have a spigot not far from the garden, but it's County water and they chlorinate that. I could make a charcoal filter for the that. I've read up on that and it's pretty easy.

I was thinking the other day of how I might rig up some water bags and let the burros carry water for me. That might be the best option.

And I really love the garlic patch you've got. I have to make one of those! Both you and Packlite have those working great.

I have to get out there today and get to work. Lot's to do yet...
Posted by: PerryMK

Re: Garden 2015 - 04/07/15 04:09 PM

If its only 20 feet an old fashioned hand pump could move the water. Then you'd need a cistern to hold it unless you wanted to water when you pump. That's a lot of work though and a small electric pump isn't too expensive.

I guess I'm ok feeding the birds for now. The blackberry actually grows on the trellis. eventually I'll have to build a large arbor or at least another small trellis.
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Garden 2015 - 05/03/15 03:53 PM

Got a nice salad from the garden just before sunset last night:

And I made a video so you can hear an Ozark Spring Sunset:

Posted by: PerryMK

Re: Garden 2015 - 05/23/15 01:18 PM

Dug up the garlic and potatoes today

Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Garden 2015 - 06/01/15 02:05 PM

You're doing good!!

We took a week vacation down near you, in Destin last week, and it rained here most of the time we were there. And it kept raining every day since. Just stopped today.

So when we got back my garden was choking in weeds. The veggies are doing ok, but it's thick in there. I've spent a few hours these past few days thinning them out, but I've got a lot of work to do yet before I'm caught up.

I'll be able to get out there and get it looking good this week. I've been grinding out code for long hours (except for the vacation) for weeks now and I've been neglecting the garden too much.

My potatoes are still growing. They're flowering now. Looks like they're loving the soil mixture I made up for them, and the thick leaf mulch I put on their bed has kept it pretty much weed free. I have to wait another 4-6 weeks before I dig them up though.

My lettuce has gone bitter, and I need to plant something in its place, but I haven't done that yet. I've got all kinds of tomato plants, most are scragglers that I tried growing from seed or were given to me and were overgrown in their little seed trays. We'll see how they do. I might want to plant something around them in case they don't do well.

I've got a few tomato plants that are getting big. Most are heirloom varieties, so it will be fun to see what they produce. Those alone should supply all we'll want.

Right now we've got wild black raspberries coming in. I picked a couple handfuls last evening. They're always amazing. Cukes are starting to show fruit and I've got some melons and squash that are taking off and starting to flower now.

I'll try to remember to take a few photos and then get them posted.
Posted by: tramp

Re: Garden 2015 - 09/06/15 05:05 PM

A good year. Some of the bounty canned and ready for storage.

Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Garden 2015 - 09/10/15 02:51 PM

Very Nice!!!
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Garden 2015 - 11/25/15 12:18 AM

I still have tomatoes on the vine, and even a couple small watermelons. I put row covers over them a few weeks ago and just checked them again today. Most of the tomatoes are still green, but a few of them are just turning red and a few are ready to pick. The others should ripen pretty good on my window sill. The leaves have all wilted though, so I'll have to pick them all soon.

I can't wait to cut into those watermelons. That will be interesting.
Posted by: packlite

Re: Garden 2015 - 12/04/15 12:05 PM

Looks good Tramp. We've gotten away from canning veggies (other than quasi veggy tomatoes) but those green bean sure look good and bring back memories canning them. We now mostly freeze and dehydrate.