Friday, August 17, 2018

Garden Friday

Welcome to Garden Friday!
We are slowly making progress 
on our new additions to the fall garden.

This large cardboard box was just the right size
to help me fill in the new extension of the veggie garden.
Cardboard is often the first layer when utilizing the lasagna
or sheet mulch method of bed construction.
It acts as a weed deterrent, kills the grass underneath
(so, no need to dig it up), and forms the foundation
of materials that break down to feed the soil.
Corrugated  cardboard can be acquired from stores
or saved from new purchases,
then layered directly over grass and weeds.
That's the start of a new planting bed.

The cardboard was covered by the (free) mulch
we got from the power company.
There are still some areas to cover,
and this method will continue to be used.

 These logs never got mulched by the tree trimmers,
so we decided to keep them intact and use them as is.
We will be exploring the technique of Huglekultur
in the new bed we will be creating later today.
These logs will be the base of that bed.
(More on that project next week.)

 We will also be employing these cool concrete blocks
with which to create the bed.
I can't wait to show you how easy they are to use!

 Meanwhile, back in the current beds,
we are getting a nice assortment of goodies.
This year's garden was a huge experiment,
as it's the first real growing time since we've been in our new house.
Come springtime, with the hope that the beds will be established
and the irrigation system installed,
we hope to increase both the variety and volume of crops.
Most of what we grow is only eaten by me,
(my boys are rather picky),
so I grow what I know I can eat.
I'd like to bolster our harvest
so that more veg can be donated to local food banks.

okra blossom

I've surprised myself by eating okra in sauteed dishes.
Up to now, pickled okra was the only way I would eat it.
If picked small, it is rather tasty,
and I am not bothered by any sliminess.  

The pumpkins are starting to find their happy place.

Flowers show us that we're on the right track!

This sweet lil' Sugar Baby watermelon
finally acquired these fetching stripes,
so it was harvested, despite its small size.
The melons did fine on the arched trellises,
so I'd call that a success.
Next season, we plan to sow many, many more melons.

 Another first-time venture,
was growing these turtle beans.
What a blast it is to see them change
from green (just like a string bean),
to beige, brown and then finally, speckled pods.

It's exciting to know that we will have dried beans in the cupboard
that we've grown ourselves for use all winter long.
With the garden in transition,
I'm looking back and feeling fairly satisfied with our successes.
I've learned so much already about gardening in our new state,
and there is so much more to learn.
I am blessed to be surrounded by folks who are
willing to share what they know.

Have you tried anything new in your garden this season?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Go Forth. Do Good.

I'm taking the day off to enjoy my birthday,
but I'll be back tomorrow with Garden Friday.
Hope to see you here.
My Mantra for the next year will be:
Go Forth.
Do Good.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Going Local-Single Brothers' Garden

Last week,
we showed you the Cobblestone Farmers' Market 
in Old Salem, North Carolina.
Today, we're featuring the Single Brothers' Garden,
which is located directly adjacent to the Market.

This garden, which is one of several you'll find in Old Salem,
has been lovingly restored to its original charm.

 The original intent of the garden was to feed the members of the 
Single Brothers' Choir, who lived just steps away.
The land was planted with heirloom vegetables including
beets, corn, okra, as well as grains like winter wheat, 
and a host of other crops.

Today, the garden continues to showcase traditional methods of growing.


 Along with field crops such as these gorgeous beans,
apple and cherry trees have been re-established,
Grapes and gourds can also be found nearby.

Many culinary herbs can be found in the raised rows.
tower of beans

 On the weekend we visited, beets were ready for harvest,

 and loads of squash were awaiting collection.

 The cabbage has since been used for something delicious.

 The garden is tended year-round,
with winter crops making way for new plantings in spring.
This straw mulch no doubt keeps the beds moist and weed-free.

There are several gardens within walking distance
eagerly waiting for visitors to stroll their grounds.

 I am so grateful that these historical gardens
have been reborn and sustained.
We have much to learn from our ancestors.

Another visit is well warranted,
as we had other locations on our agenda on this day.
Old Salem is a fantastic place to explore, learn and savor,
especially for history buffs
And what a wonderful homeschool field trip.

Old Salem Visitor Center  
900 Old Salem Road Winston-Salem, NC 27101
or 336-721-7300

Have you visited any historical gardens?

Friday, August 10, 2018

Garden Friday

Welcome back to Garden Friday!
We've got a bit of this 
and a smattering of that 
on this fine summer day.

 We recently had some troublesome weather.
This is a neighbor's house after the storm.
Thankfully, no one was hurt and another neighbor
was able to take care of the aftermath.

The skeleton of the garden hasn't changed much in the last week.
With autumn fast approaching,
the next few weeks will be busy with building a new elongated bed
and transplanting starts into the fall garden.

 For now, we are still harvesting a few scrumptious morsels
from the summer garden.
The cukes just keep on comin'!
I've been pleasantly surprised how easy and problem-free 
these slicing cucumbers have been to grow.
The flavor is mild, refreshing, and crisp!

 The okra has been producing quite well.
Every couple of days,
a few are snipped off the stem
and added to a sauteed vegetable medley.

 New blooms means that they are not slowing down yet.

The tomatoes.  Oh, the tomatoes.
Don't they look gorgeous?
They are teasing me so.
I picked the first Cherokee Purple the other day,
only to find that it was waterlogged.
Not sure why that happened.
What smidge I could cut off and taste was delicious.
I'm holding out hope that the remaining fruit
will be able to be enjoyed.

Of course, that means that I have to beat the cutworms to them.
Each day when I return from my walk
I am diligently checking for these pests.
How'd I miss this monster?
Sorry to say, it was his last meal.

The Japanese eggplant has been so tender and yummy.
I usually cook these with some of the banana peppers I pick,
along with onion and tomato. 
Even though the leaves are riddled with holes,
the fruit does not seem to be disturbed by anything.

 This guy seems to be in a holding pattern.
It doesn't seem to be growing.
I'm gonna add some turkey poop to the container
and see if I can pull it out of its funk.
There are only two watermelons still hanging on the arches.

The Slenderettes never disappoint.
A couple of months back,
it seemed like they were on their way out.
Lo and behold, they sprang back to life.
This is the most tender and delicious string bean
I have ever eaten.

 The turtle beans are drying on the vines.
I'm not sure if I should pick them as they dry,
or wait until the end of season and pick them all.
I have a friend who grows all sorts of drying beans,
so I think I'll pose the question to her.

With the rain we've had lately,
the pumpkins are starting to take off.
They seem quite content nestled in their pots
under the trellis.
They, more than most crops I've grown,
really respond to the downpours.

A bit of cardboard pilfered from a neighbor's trash pile
will help me to cover more of the grassy area
and expand the growing size of the garden.

 These brush piles scattered around the property
will be used as we begin exploring
Hugelkultur in our next raised bed project.
Not only does it recycle the materials on the property,
it is less costly to fill a bed with soil.
Always trying to learn something new
and improve the chances for successful growing.

 In our growing zone (zone 9),
it's time to start several crops including
beets, kale, lettuce, and spinach.
I took some time to get some seedlings started
so that they will be ready for transplanting in a few weeks.

 I'm planning on really focusing on succession planting,
especially with lettuces this fall and winter.
I know that Vates kale will winter over without protection
and I want to test the lettuces and see how they do.

 An old toothbrush is used to get the needed depth for seeds.
Most lettuces are planted 1/4" from the top of the soil.
In general, the smaller the seed, the shallower the hole for sowing.

These seeds are pelleted.
(They look like tiny white eggs.)
The idea is that it's easier to see where you are planting
and to prevent from having to thin out seedlings later on.

The seeds are sown in seed starting mix,
and the soil is gently pressed down
to ensure good contact. 
Misted for good measure,
they are on their way to a great start!
(Indeed, these were checked on yesterday,
and there was already germination in many cellpacks.)

Our first plantings for the fall garden.

 This curiosity peaked my interest.
Hopefully, with a bit of research, we'll figure out what it is.
There is always something new to learn.

 Both the lemongrass and the lantana near the front porch
have savored every drop of rain we've had.
I can see this entire bed being filled in with lantana.
The pollinators love it!

 Oddly enough, the magnolia tree is blooming again.
For some reason, I thought it only did its thing in the springtime.

The Gerbera daisies took their time coming back to life
once they were moved to the butterfly bed.
I never gave up on them though,
and we are being rewarded with stunning blooms.

What's new in your summer garden?