Friday, July 21, 2017

Garden Friday

We've been in our new home for about a month now.
With many indoor projects getting accomplished,
it seemed like a great time to get my hands dirty workin' on our garden.

 This planting bed was already here.
The former owners had grown some tomatoes in containers,
but weren't much into gardening beyond that.
I decided to clean up the area and ready it for my veggie bed.

 The groundcloth was pretty well spent,
so I removed it all and leveled the ground as best I could.
The soil here is heavy clay, so I will be sowing in pots.

 I used some of the feed sacks I had on hand
that were too dirty to wash for my daisy tote project.
These will line this bed and hopefully, keep weeds at bay.
For now, I am using bricks and rocks to hold the sacks down,
but once the containers are added, they shouldn't be needed.

 I gathered my supplies including the feed sacks,
a trowel, my seeds and a box cutter (to split the sacks).

 I had also prepared a list of which crops would be in containers,
and which would be in the straw bale garden
(which has now become a moot point).

 I lined a few of the icing buckets I got from Sister
with styrofoam to keep them lighter
and easier to move around.
It also saves on the cost of soil mix,
because you just don't need as much.

 Thyme, parsley and dill were sown in these smaller buckets.
I recently moved them to the back deck,
where I can keep an eye on them 
and make sure they stay moist during these hot, dry days.

Several varieties of lettuce were seeded,
including buttercrunch, red sails and red salad bowl.
Once these get growing, I'll start up a few other varieties,
to keep the harvests coming through the fall.

These icing buckets work well for crops that don't need much space,
like lettuce, spinach and herbs.
They even have a handle to make moving them around a breeze.

 So far, one of the tomato plants I brought with me
from the rental is doing okay.
One lonely fruit is holding on for dear life.
It may be too hot for the others to set fruit,
but we are hoping for the best.
Worst case scenario,
we'll just start another crop next month.

 I'm hopeful that the snap peas will give us tons of tasty morsels
all fall and even longer.
These will be sown every two weeks to ensure abundance.
I need to set up a trellis system on which they can climb.

Here are the straw bales I got this week.
The plan was to start conditioning them this weekend.
Using the straw bale gardening method,
the bales must be "conditioned" for up to 12 days
before planting.
This means that you alternate watering with fertilizing
to help the bales start the composting process,
which then feeds the plants placed there.
Unfortunately, I realized I had made a grave mistake.

I had a hard time finding local straw,
so I ended up buying this from a big box store.
Without even realizing it,
I neglected to ask them if the straw had been treated with anything.
When it occurred to me,
I called the store and they said 
they have no idea because the straw comes from many different farms.
That was all I needed to hear.
Straw bale gardening would have to wait until spring
when I can obtain clean, pesticide-free straw.
It won't go to waste, though.
There are plenty of places where we can use it
to line pathways and prevent erosion around here.

I had purchased these biodegadeable pots from someone on Craig's List.
She has more and she's just down the road,
so I plan to pick up a few dozen more as my Plan B tactic.
They were a buck apiece and she even threw in an extra since I bought more than 10.

 They are 4 gallon pots,
which will work for the majority of what I'm planting.
I sowed broccoli, brussels sprouts, and snap peas in them. 
I also started some eggplant and broccoli in six packs
for transplanting later on.
If I need deeper pots, 
I will continue to look for 5-gallon plastic buckets at Publix
or other food stores.
The deli or bakery has them and
they are free for the asking.

So, we are under way,
although we are having to alter a bit what our plans were for the garden.
A true homesteader just keeps moving forward,
no matter what gets thrown at them.
Never the less, it's quite exciting to be farming again
and I am looking forward to the experience
here in our new state.
Who knows what will come of it?

What's getting started in your garden this week?