Friday, March 22, 2019

Garden Friday

 Welcome to Garden Friday!
We have been loving this rainless (for the most part), sunny week in the garden.
Last weekend I was able to direct sow many of my lettuce and kale varieties.
It felt so good to feel that warm, welcoming soil.

The garlic that was planted in the fall is looking strong!
I'm thinking it might be a good idea to plant a lot more of it,
or do two separate plantings,
as we use this crop almost daily in our cooking.

 The shallots are also coming along
and I need to plant this on a regular basis.
Shallots are the mildest of the onion family
and add so much flavor to dishes.
The bonus is that they are a breeze to grow!

Look at this gorgeous green oakleaf lettuce.
This was planted by seed in October
and is just now taking off.
It is mild and sweet and oh-so tender.

 The leeks planted a few weeks ago are standing tall
and seem to be content in their storage bin home.
These will be "banked" when they get a bit taller.

The beets will soon be transplanted along the perimeter of the garlic bed.
There are golden, early, and Detroit red beets getting their start here. 

There are sweet potatoes soaking inside,
so that I can have slips ready for planting in another month or two.
Our odd little "spa room", as we call it,
is being turned into a greenhouse of sorts,
as it is still too cold to have most seedlings outside.

 It was so exciting to install our first blueberry bushes!
Pine straw mulch was added for insulation,
moisture retention and the acid-giving properties of the pine.

 It's been perfect weather for pruning,
so I took my pruners to this butterfly bush.
C had been commenting that he could hear the branches
rubbing across the siding outside his window.
As is often the case,
this was planted a bit too close to the house.

A few pieces came right out of the ground,
so I will find them some room to groove.

 We used our trailer this past week
to pick up some pallets that someone was giving away.
They'll be used for some project or another.

A fellow Master Gardener donated all of this grapevine
toward my wattle fence project.
I also have a neighbor right down the street
who is giving me all the branches I need to use as stakes.
I can't wait to get started on that!

While clearing out and raking,
I came upon our septic tank opening.
This wood was outlining the area around it.

It was moved and is now serving a more functional use.
Use whatchagot!

I may be jinxing myself,
but I believe spring is here to stay.
So many things to look forward to.
Stay tuned.

Garden On!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Community Garden Workday for March (2019)

With temperatures finally breaking 50
and no rain in the forecast,
we had a productive day at the monthly Community Garden workday.
The beds have been sitting mostly untended,
and with the amount of rain over the winter,
there was plenty of weed-pulling to be had.
This Community Garden occupies space at the Y in Denver, NC.
(You can see it off in the distance.)

The garlic we planted in the fall is doing well,
regardless of irrigation issues.
Thankfully, the rainy winter took care of our watering.

A few of the other beds had some yummies growing.
These beds are sponsored by individuals
who pay $50 a season for the chance to grow their own food.
The cost covers soil and water,
they just need to add their veggies of choice!

There are several "community" beds as well,
and the food grown in these beds is used to support
the local food bank here in Denver.

Some folks end up renting a bed here
because they just don't have space
or the right growing conditions where they live.

This hardy lettuce has made it through the winter
and is still going strong.
In my garden at home,
I have watched the lettuce sit dormant for months,
and have just now been able to harvest greens.
It was a strange winter for gardeners.

For the most part,
we were all on weed duty.
The beds are tended by the renters,
so they clean up their own soil.
The walkways and community beds
were our target,
and there was plenty for us to do.

What a beautiful day to work together
making something better.
I feel truly blessed to be a part of this benevolent group.

It seems to be the season for shed cleaning.
One of the projects that several of us worked on last week
was cleaning and reorganizing the tool shed at the Community Garden.
Currently, it is shared by two separate groups,
but it will soon be solely the garden's storage unit.

We took out every single item in the shed,
and swept the shelves and floor thoroughly.

The right side of the shed is where we've been storing the garden supplies.
It's nice to see that we have room to spare on the shelves.

The left side is currently housing materials for a summer camp program.
The Y is making another area available for these supplies,
so the garden will have more space for our equipment.

The space under this shelf was ideal for the wheelbarrows,
and they can be safely tucked underneath and out of the way.
Once the camp materials are rehoused,
we will be able to use the entire shed for our purposes.

One of the most important components when organizing,
is to use as much of your vertical space as possible.
The hanging racks for the tools is the perfect example
of an efficient use of space.

Here are the befores (left) and afters (right).
I'd say it'll be a bit easier to find what we need from now on.

Another good day's work done.
Looking forward to next month's planting time.
It's an exciting time in the garden!

"Giving back creates a virtuous cycle
that makes everyone more successful."
~Ron Conway

Friday, March 15, 2019

Garden Friday

Welcome back to Garden Friday.
This week has ushered in warmer temperatures
and very little rain.
We have quite a few things going on in the garden.

 Last year, I purchased sweet potato slips from our local hardware store,
but this year, I'm trying to grow my own.
I bought some organic sweet potatoes from the grocery,
and have them sitting in water in the jaccuzzi tub we never use.
I will look for better vessels, but this is what I had on hand.

 It was so exciting when the leek I ordered from Sow True came in the mail.
These are the lancelot variety and I decided that since I got 25,
I would try a little experiment.

 Last year, I grew them from seed in one of these taller blue bins.
That worked out pretty well,
but I recently learned about a new way to try.

  I refreshed the soil in this bin with compost to ready it for planting.
Everything was mixed on this tarp
to ensure that nothing got wasted.

 The first batch were planted in the conventional manner,
making sure to keep some room at the top of the container
so that additional soil can be added.
This is called "banking" or "hilling".

 In the large hugelkultur bed,
I scratched in some compost the same way.

 Using an old toothbrush, I measured about 3 inches on the handle
and used it to make my hole.

 With a rocking motion,
I moved the toothbrush back and forth 
until I got my v-shaped furrow.

Then the leeks went in
and no soil was placed into the hole.
They were watered in well and left just like that.
This method requires no banking,
as the end of the seedling is supposed to fill up the hole. 
You can read more about this method here.
 It'll be fun to see if there is much of a difference.

 This week I had the opportunity to volunteer with our local Extension
to distribute plants to folks who had ordered them.
This is a fundraiser and a great time to get good deals on crops.
We had available apple and fig trees, blueberry, raspberry, 
elderberry and blackberry bushes, and kiwi plants.
It was wonderful to spend some time with a fellow Master Gardener
and encourage all of those coming in for their orders.

This year we are adding a few berries to our landscape.
I picked up 3 different varieties of blueberries.
These are known to bear the first year,
so I am looking forward to a freezer full of blueberries!
Of course, that's not counting those eaten fresh!

A hole was dug so that the top of the soil in the pot
was even with the surrounding soil 
(don't ya just love all that clay?).
I added a bit of compost to the hole 
before placing the bush down.
Then the hole was refilled and I used the excess soil
to make a retention area around the entire plant.
This will hopefully ensure that the water does not just run off.

 Two raspberry plants were added to the mix,
although they were planted elsewhere, away from the garden.
The same procedure was followed,
and we are hoping for some homegrown organic berries this summer!

While working on the placement of the bushes,
I discovered what I think is the lid to our septic tank.
There is a HUGE loropetalum planted right next to it.
(And a few monster azaleas that refuse to be dug up.)
Not sure what folks are thinking sometimes,
when these things get planted.
Until I hear otherwise,
it's gonna stay right where it is.

These feed sacks had done their job killing grass in another part of the yard,
so they will be added underneath the arches to do the same job.

 I'm hoping to do some direct sowing this weekend,
so that I can add to the dismal display of leftover lettuce 
and chard in the hugelkultur bed.
It will be fun to use the companion planting method
and see how everyone gets along!

Wouldya just look at this cute pup?
His names' Roscoe and he followed me home one day when I was out for my morning walk.
He was so sweet and gentle, and so well behaved!
His owner came to collect him a few hours later,
but it sure was nice having him come to visit for a while.

Spring is next week,
is your garden ready?