Thursday, July 31, 2008

No Show

The pole beans have been a complete no show. I planted some in paper pots indoors today to see if they would sprout.

The bush beans are about eight inches tall. All but two of them sprouted and the two that are not up yet have roots so there is still hope.



I bought some Red Pearl onions at the grocery store last night. I planted nine of them to see what would happen. I have not found out much about them. Some sites say they will never get bigger and some say they are small because they are grown close together to keep them that way. Maybe they will think they are in their second year and make seeds. I am curious to find out.
I have been watering the garden with the water from my fish tanks. I have four freshwater fish tanks to choose from. Of course all but one tank are in the basement so I may not keep it up. So far the plants are happy with it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Grow Guide

I found a really neat site that let me plug in my last (May 10) and first frost (October 15) dates and then it tells me what I can do for that time period. The drawbacks are that it only displays one week at a time and only one planting season, Spring or Fall for that week. I put together the following list for my area.

My Grow Guide
http://www.chestnut-sw.com/growform.htm

February 16th
Sow indoors, New This Week

broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, head lettuce, onion seed, parsley

February 23rd
Sow indoors, New This Week
chinese cabbage, collards
Sow indoors, Ongoing
broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, head lettuce, onion seed, parsley

March 1st
Sow indoors, New This Week
brussles sprouts, eggplant, peppers
Sow indoors, Ongoing
chinese cabbage, collards
Sow indoors, Last Chance
broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, head lettuce, onion seed, parsley

March 8th
Sow indoors, Ongoing
brussles sprouts, eggplant, peppers
Sow indoors, Last Chance
chinese cabbage, collards

March 15th
Sow indoors, New This Week
early tomatoeslate tomatoes
Sow Outdoors, New This Week
spinach
Sow indoors, Last Chance
brussles sprouts, eggplant, peppers

March 22nd
Harden Off, New This Week
leeks (2/16 - 2/22), onion seed (2/16 - 2/22), parsley (2/16 - 2/22)
Sow indoors, Ongoing

early tomatoes, late tomatoes
Sow Outdoors, Ongoing
spinach

March 29th
Sow Outdoors, New This Week
kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, onion sets, potatoes, radishes, turnips
Harden Off, New This Week
broccoli (2/16 - 2/22), cabbage (2/16 - 2/22), cauliflower (2/16 - 2/22)
Transplant, New This Week
leeks (2/16 - 2/22), onion seed (2/16 - 2/22), parsley (2/16 - 2/22)
Sow Outdoors, Ongoing
spinach
Harden Off, Ongoing
leeks (2/23 - 2/29), onion seed (2/23 - 2/29), parsley (2/23 - 2/29)

April 5th
Sow indoors, New This Week
leaf lettuce, okra
Sow Outdoors, New This Week
beets, peas
Harden Off, New This Week
chinese cabbage (2/23 - 2/29), collards (2/23 - 2/29), head lettuce (2/16 - 2/22)
Transplant, New This Week
broccoli (2/16 - 2/22), cabbage (2/16 - 2/22), cauliflower (2/16 - 2/22)
Sow Outdoors, Ongoing
kalekohlrabi, mustard greens, onion sets, potatoes, radishes, spinach, turnips
Harden Off, Ongoing
broccoli (2/23 - 2/29), cabbage (2/23 - 2/29), cauliflower (2/23 - 2/29)
Transplant, Ongoing
leeks (2/23 - 2/29), onion seed (2/23 - 2/29), parsley (2/23 - 2/29)
Harden Off, Last Chance
leeks (3/1 - 3/7), onion seed (3/1 - 3/7), parsley (3/1 - 3/7)

I am not going to put all the information in this post. I did upload the information to GoogleDocs and you should be able to see it here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Garden At Home

When we got home I was glad to see that the beans are sprouting.



That picture was taken yesterday afternoon. Look at them today! All nine in this square have sprouted.



None of the pole beans have broken through yet. These sprouts are the bush beans.

When we got home yesterday there was a yellow summer squash ready to pick.



I don't think it was in the house ten minutes before hubby had it sliced and breaded and frying in a pan.

I picked a second one today.



I also picked three Mortgage Lifter tomatoes. We had them and the second squash for dinner.



Not much happening in the old garden except the potato plants are still flowering.



I am tempted to join in the potato experiment on one of my lists. Some people have just now planted potatoes to see if they can get at least new potatoes before frost. I think the potato experimentation will have to wait for next year though. I may try some in trash compactor bags then to see how they do. I want to perfect my potato box design for next year too.

Busy Weekend

We traveled to our cabin on Thursday and came home yesterday. Right away I noticed that my birdbath was missing it's top. I do not know what did it but the middle of the garden was flattened.



Then I noticed that our groundhog was back. It has lived under the cabin since the slab was poured in 1984. Well, it and it's decendents. It also has holes in the garden and who knows where else. It was out of luck last month as a mama fox took over the hole under the house. She is still around, but has moved to another location. Here is the back door of the hole. You can see the dirt tossed up around the bottom of the house wrap.



And here is the front entrance.



When hubby went to mow he noticed this large dead tree that had lost a big limb.



We have two surviving baby trees. I don't know what one is but this one is a Tulip Poplar. The trees really need to be watered more regularly than we can when first transplanted.



Hubby cut down some more brush this weekend. Can you believe the size of the leaves and thorns on this Greenbrier? The thorns are nearly an inch long!



While hubby was cutting brush I filled in some of the anklebreaker holes. They are the holes left by the roots of the little trees when the lot was bulldozed. The holes are impossible to see but just the right size for a foot to slip into and twist or break an ankle. I mark them with a white stick when I find them so I can find them again to fill them in.



I walked back to the far section of the lot and realized I had not posted the picture of the new chain. It shows up much better than the old one. We replaced it over the 4th of July weekend.



The Osage Orange fruits are just starting to drop. They are the size of an orange and have a citrusy odor but are not good for much. The trees are very tall and if one of the fruits hits you in the head you will feel it! No picture yet, but maybe after a few more fall.

We have a few evergreen trees that we kept. They are all the children of this tree. From this angle it does not even look much like an evergreen.



We have several Redbud trees. This little one used to be in the brush line but we rescued it. It was covered with brambles and vines. It seems to be happy and is covered with seed pods. I would like to grow a few more.



I saw a lot of critters this time. There were some baby Mockingbirds with Mom Mockingbird watching over them. Lots of Robins. They kept getting too close to the baby mockingbirds and Mom Mockingbird kept chasing them away. I did not want to upset her so did not try to get a picture of the babies.

There were a lot of toads out, especially in the morning. Being near the river we have dense fog most mornings which makes the grass wet. That brings out the toads. Here is a picture of one rather large fellow.



I had intended to pull some grass out of the garden, but it was all flat where most of the grass was so I left it for now. There are a lot of flowers blooming.



The Purple Coneflowers and the Milkweed are almost the same color.





I wish I knew the name of these berries. I have been told by several people that they are poisonous and have only seen a Brown Thrasher with one in it's beak. They are quite pretty. If you know what they are, please tell me. They grow on a bush that gets to be about twelve feet high. No thorns. This is one of the few plants we have without thorns.



Last I had the time to read two books. Adventures In Nature by Edwin Way Teale. Amazon did not have a cover photo so i uploaded the cover of mine. I wonder if they will approve it? This is a nice book but I would advise getting it through interlibrary loan if you wish to read it.



The second book I read was Insect Potpourri: Adventures In Entomology edited by Jean Adams. I wanted to read this one especially as my father has an article in it. In Chapter Four: Insects Around The House he wrote the article War And Peace in Wardrobe And Pantry by J. Richard Gorham.



Again, even though Amazon lists the price on this book as $84.95 you are better off getting it through interlibrary loan.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Inch By Inch

I rediscovered John Denver singing this song for Sesame Street and thought it appropriate to add. Enjoy! Lyrics are below.



Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground
Inch by inch, row by row
Someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below
'Til the rain comes tumbling down

Pulling weeds and pickin' stones
Man is made from dreams and bones
Feel the need to grow my own
'Cause the time is close at hand
Grain for grain, sun and rain
Find my way in nature's chain
To my body and my brain
To the music from the land

Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground
Inch by inch, row by row
Someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below
'Til the rain comes tumbling down

Plant your rows straight and long
Thicker than with pray'r and song
Mother Earth will make you strong
If you give her love and care
Old crow watchin' hungrily
From his perch in yonder tree
In my garden I'm as free
As that feathered thief up there

Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground
Inch by inch, row by row
Someone bless the seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below
'Til the rain comes tumbling down

'Til the rain comes tumbling down

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Greenthumbr



I am trying out a new garden journaling site called Greenthumbr, http://greenthumbr.com/
It is brand new and still has bugs to work out but so do I.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Beans In The Ground



Today I planted the first beans. Two squares of Kentucky Blue Pole Beans (58 days) and two squares of Landreth Stringless Bush Beans (52 days).
I do not think we can eat more beans than that :)

I originally thought I would cut the weed cloth to put around the plants to help keep cats out. When I put the paper collars for cutworms aroundd the pole beans, the weed cloth just bunched and looked ugly. I left off the collars for the bush beans and did use the weed cloth. I will see what happens. I can always stick a straw in next to them when they come up.

I soaked each kind in water for an hour before planting. I soaked each bed well too both before and after planting.

I did go to Starbucks and get a bag of Espresso Pods. Lovely little things! I crumbled them up and put on top of the soil and weed cloth.



In other garden news the lone yellow squash is finally producing and has a half dozen babies.



I picked the first two Roma tomatoes. I only have one Roma this year.



This is one of two surviving bean plants. A few more came up but died. We had a horrid windstorm that broke off several plants this spring. This one is still very small but is covered with flowers. No beans yet.



There is a Purple Leaf Plum Tree on the line between us and our neighbor. It had a HUGE crop of plums this year. I hate to see them on the ground going to waste but they are so incredibly sour that I have been unsuccessful in making anything edible out of them. Sad.

Monday, July 14, 2008

First SFG Bed



Today I got the first of my new Square Foot Garden (SFG) beds set up and filled. All that is lacking is the trellis netting and the plants.
The bed is 4 feet wide by 2 feet deep. I have it divided by an additional brace across the center. I wanted them sturdy enough to pick up and move. I am working hard to build them.

I used untreated pine 2x8's. The front piece is 48 inches wide. The back piece is 45 inches wide. That is so it can sit between the two 2 feet long boards on the sides. The center board is 22 1/2 inches long.

I am trying something new and only time will tell if it works. I covered the bottom and inside edges of the boards with housewrap. We covered our cabin over the 4th of July weekend and I had some left over. I thought it might help the boards to last longer if they were not actually touching the soil.

I put commercial grade weed cloth and 1/2" hardware cloth on the bottom. We have had terrible trouble with moles. I also laid a piece of weedcloth between the foundation of the house and the dirt that was put back. Then the weed cloth was folded over under the back edge of the bed. I put another piece of weed cloth under the right edge of the bed and left a piece sticking out. The next bed in the row will sit on this piece of weed cloth too. I did not want to build one ginormous bed as I want it to be moveable should the occasion arise. I had trouble in the past with weeds behind and between the beds and am trying to prevent that.

I know that Mel does not endorse the PVC pipe trellises but the white looks better against the house. Hopefully it looks nice enough that the neighbors will not complain. I used 1 1/4" PVC for the bottom sleeves cut in 1' lengths. There are three of them as my husband thought it might need the extra support. The sleeves are held in place by pipe clamps. The clamps hold so tightly that they would have to be unscrewed for the sleeves to move. The uprights are 1" PVC and are 5' tall. I wanted them higher but my husband was worried they would not be sturdy enough when loaded with plants. I had just a small piece left over from two 10' sections of PVC. The trellis is fastened to the inside of the bed. This takes up some bed space but as it was going to sit up against the house I felt that was the best way to do it. The trellis is easily removed and reinstalled by sliding the legs into the permanent sleeves.

The grid is just pieces of lath held together with screws at the crosspoints. It is just sitting on the bed.

The beds are filled with 1/3 perlite/vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 compost. All ingredients were purchased with the exception of the perlite which I was given. There are 8 quarts of perlite in this bed. I tried it because I wanted to see how it compared with vermiculite. I did not like it and will not use it in the other beds. I also did not like the EarthGro Organic Humus and Manure and will not be purchasing it again. It was more like clay with a little manure mixed in. The beds look different colors because i mixed up the compost in turns and whichever one ended up in the top layer of the bed is the color you see. Both beds have the same ingredients from the same bags.

I will be covering the exposed soil with squares of weed cloth covered with mulch. I will cut x's in the weed cloth where the seeds/plants will go. I plan on a fall sowing of beans and maybe salad greens, onions and garlic for this bed.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fresh Paint

The fresh paint does make a difference! But I do not like painting! You can see how it did look in the post prior to this one and now it looks like this.



I got bitten or pinched by a baby praying mantis while I was painting. He got me in the crook of my elbow. I did not even know he was there till he grabbed or bit me. I don't know which, but it stung a little. I looked and there he was, all inch and a quarter of him. I shook him off into the lilac bush and off he went. I think they are really cool and hope he sticks around.

Here is a picture of some of the boards I took out on Wednesday. The trash company does not have to pick up boards at all so I am disposing of them very slowly.



You can see my yellow summer squash plant behind the boards. That bed will be replaced eventually as well. And so on around the back of the house. Where we live we are only allowed to grow vegetables in the back yard. Also any garden structures must be made of wood, not of a permanent substance like brick and they must be completely within 3 feet of the foundation of the house. I can dig up dirt and plant other things in the back yard, they just cannot be enclosed in anything. The gardens I am doing now are a start.

I got three seed catalogs today. Park Seed, Burpee and The Cook's Garden. They are all their spring or summer catalogs as I ordered them late. Up till now the garden has not really been planned or easy to take care of or very productive. I love fresh veggies and am hoping to change that. I am letting the foundation dry today and tomorrow am going to put in weed cloth in strips along the wall that was painted. I will put strips a foot wide the length of the wall, then shovel in the dirt, level it, fold the edge of the weed cloth over and set the new boxes on it. There is always a gap when the box is set against the wall and I have had trouble with weeds lurking back there.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Hardiness Zone and Planting Dates

According to the map I am in zone 6B for VA and WV both. I am in the dark yellow in both locations. But according to Garden Web's Zip Code US Zone Finder I am in zone 7 in VA and zone 6 in WV. Interesting. According to The Trumpet Vine, http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org/trumpetvine/Fall%20Trumpet%20Vine%2006%20(2).pdf, my frost free date is May 10th. According to the same source, http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org/trumpetvine/Fall%20Trumpet%20Vine%2006%20(2).pdf , my first frost date is October 15.

http://www.growit.com/bin/USDAZoneMaps.exe?MyState=va





http://www.growit.com/bin/USDAZoneMaps.exe?MyState=WV

I am about as close to a major river at both locations too. In VA it is the Potomac and in WV the South Branch of the Potomac. I have yet to see the river from our home in VA but it has actually washed over the WV property once in 1985 and a couple more times has been on the extreme lower edge of the property. The flood in 1985 was a 100 year flood meaning that on average it only floods that badly once every 100 years. You may like the read the book that was written about the flood. Killing Waters: The Great WV Flood of 1985 https://www.tamarackwv.com/catalog/product/KillingWatersTheGreatWestVirginiaFloodof1985,1860.aspx

According to this PDF http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/envirohort/426-331/426-331.pdf my last killing frost is the end of April and the first killing frost is October 19th. This gives me an average of 182 days frost free. I know from experience that there are often several days of warmer weather both before and after the first and last frost. So if I cover the plants I may get a bit more growing time.

Here is a PDF with fall planting dates for my area. http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/envirohort/426-334/426-334.pdf

Here is a PDF to order publications from the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service
http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/envirohort/426-331/426-331.pdf

Other Publications of interest to me from the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service include
Composting 426-325 http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/envirohort/426-325/426-325.pdf
Compost: What Is It ans What Is It To You 452-231 http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/compost/452-231/452-231.html
Sweet Corn 426-405 http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/envirohort/426-405/426-405.pdf
Cucumbers, Melons and Squash 426-406 http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/envirohort/426-406/426-406.pdf
Leafy Green Vegetables 426-408 http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/envirohort/426-408/426-408.pdf
Vegetables Recommended For Virginia 426-480 http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/envirohort/426-480/426-480.html
Tomatoes 426-418 http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/envirohort/426-418/426-418.html
Monthly Gardening Tips http://www.ext.vt.edu/cgi-bin/WebObjects/Docs.woa/wa/getcat?cat=ir-fv-gt
Virginia Cooperative Extension Publications List http://www.blogger.com/post-edit.g?blogID=4984991149650018929&postID=6249095705845523520

This is the last one for today.

I will put all these links in the sidebar as well. I do know how to embed the links but prefer to have them visible :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Snake!

I was out in the back yard. I got all the old boards from around the old raised bed garden dug up. My husband wants to paint the bricks of the foundation before I put the new square foot beds in so I was digging a trench along that wall to make the painting easier. My shovel turned up what I thought at first was a huge worm as it was wiggly and pink. Then it righted itself and started to move away and I saw it was a snake. Brown on top with a pink belly. I picked it up because I do that with snakes as long as I am sure they are not venomous. On the way into the house I realized my son was home and called him downstairs to see it. He was not as thrilled as I was. I had to go downstairs to get my camera and then back outside for the picture holding the snake all the way. The angle of the picture is meant to show the pile of rotten wood that was the old raised bed I took out. Unfortunately, my hand is blocking the veiw of most of it. You can see the trench I was digging against the wall. Here is a top veiw of the snake.



And here is the pink belly.



I would love to know what it is if you know. I did find out that it is an Eastern Worm Snake. Aptly named, since I did at first think it was a worm.
http://www.dgif.state.va.us/WILDLIFE/information/?s=030019

Lastly, I harvested the last bit of produce from this bed. I did not plant it at all. I leaned the onion against my shovel so you could get an idea of size. I am not really even sure how it got there in the first place as it was right up against the wall and I did not plant it. I have had onions on another side of the house in the past so maybe something carried it around the corner.



Now to get my husband to the store to buy the paint. I would love to get a fall crop of something from the new garden this year, but may have to put in hardy stuff that will overwinter and get a fast start in the spring.
I was hoping to use the old boards to make the new garden beds but they are too far gone. Making the new beds is expensive!

First Post

I have been pretty good about blogging my knitting, but not about my other interests.
This blog will chronicle the little things I do for enjoyment aside from knitting.
The little cabin is our home away from home in WV and the little garden is at our home in VA.
What sparked this sudden blogging enthusiasm?
We are doing big things to the little cabin and I am starting a garden based on the Square Foot Gardening system developed by Mel Bartholomew. http://www.squarefootgardening.com/
For instance, a week or so ago I saw an ad on Freecycle for free fill dirt, just come and get it. At the little cabin there are a lot of holes caused by the clearing of the lot. We chose which trees to keep and the bulldozer cleared the rest leaving holes where the roots pulled out of the ground. Those are the holes I wanted to fill with the dirt. We did go and backed right up to the woman's back gate. She had put in a new patio and that was where the dirt came from. I put down a tarp in the bed of the truck. She and my husband started shoveling into two buckets. Each bucket held 4 shovelfuls of dirt. As each bucket was filled, I replaced it with an empty bucket and dumped the dirt into the pickup. We really got a rythym going and the truck was half full in no time. This is what it looked like. (Yes, I loaded it with the tailgate up, this picture was taken as we were about to unload it)



We took turns shoveling it into our little garden cart.



Then my husband pulled the cart with his lawn tractor around to the holes. Then I shoveled in the dirt and he leveled it with the rake. Then I put the grass seed on top.



We had another big project for the Fourth of July weekend too. Wrapping the little cabin with house wrap. And we did! It looks great and the rain does not come through the walls anymore either. Yes, it really did use to. We also got the siding pieces put up around most of the windows, doors, air conditioners and corners.





I was pleased to see the Purple Coneflowers in my garden blooming. The butterflies love them although the butterflies were being camera shy. The garden sits on the remains of the brush pile where all the bulldozed brush was piled up when the lot was cleared. Most of it we actually chipped up in the shredder. Some was cut up for firewood and a small pile was burned. The mound the garden sits on is what was left of the bigger stumps and dirt after everything else was gone. There is a groundhog tunnel under the garden and we often see the groundhog out grazing.



On our way home I made my husband stop and take a picture of this sign on the cemetary. 'Nough said.
http://www.historichampshire.org/cems/levels.htm