Friday, May 31, 2019

Garden Friday

 It's Garden Friday again 
and we have been trying to stay cool.
We've had unusually warm temps (in the 90's) for May,
and the garden is responding.
The news from the garden is good and not-so-good.

 The Yukon potatoes don't seem to mind the heat,
tucked in their wire baskets and insulated with straw.
We're hoping to plant our sweet potato slips
this weekend in our newly built box.

Freckles lettuce variety

We are still able to harvest some baby lettuces.
Part of the hugelkultur bed is shaded,
so I'm hoping this will help us to keep growing lettuce for a while longer.

 While most of the chard has bolted,
this rainbow variety is still looking good.

The snap peas are completely spent,
even though I only got a couple of weeks' harvest from them.
The plants were sown in February, they just didn't do much until recently.
It's been a strange spring growing season.

 And, ugh.  
The worms and slugs have found the broccoli and cabbage leaves.
I didn't think I'd get to harvest either one, as it's been too hot,
but was hoping that I could salvage some leaves for salads.
Uh, I think I'll pass...

I have to say, I am a bit discouraged with the poor germination on some crops,
and others that are being eaten before they have any size to them.
It seems that summer, with its heat and bug issues
has decided to arrive early.
Ah well, it comes with the territory.

On a brighter note,
we were able to add some free mulch to the pathway
leading to the arches in the garden.
It was good to get all that cardboard covered.
The free stuff is used as a foundational layer,
and the pretty stuff goes on top.
This saves us some money on mulching.


 The flowers in the butterfly bed are starting to wake up!
The pollinators have been enjoying all the blooms
almost as much as I have.

 The first of our sunflowers has opened in the front porch bed.

 The black-eyed Susan has really filled out this year
underneath one of the crepe myrtle trees.

One of my all-time favorites is the coneflower, or echinacea.
There really could never be enough of these to suit me.
One tip I recently learned is to place your pollinator-friendly plants
in clusters of the same variety.  This makes it easier for them to find plenty of food.
Anything we can do to help!

Look at this curious critter we found on our new storm door.
It's an American Ermine moth,
which can be found in Canada and the Eastern United States.
This was our first spotting and it stayed on the door for a long time,
even though we opened and closed it to get the shot.
Nature is forever teaching us.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Sweet Potato Box

Over the weekend,
we took a trip to our local landfill to pick up some of the free mulch
that is offered by our county.
It was used to create a pathway to the garden.
We were able to bring home a few pallets as well.
This is something I always look for,
as they can be used for so many things.

It's important to use only pallets marked "HT" (heat-treated),
when building things for the garden.
This ensures that no chemicals have been infused into the wood.

With just a few tools and some screws,
we were able to make a bin for planting our sweet potatoes.
The idea is based on one of the great projects found on
They have so many fantastic building ideas
using repurposed items like pallets.
Our version is a bit bigger, so all of our sweet potatoes
will go into this one crate.

Big K and I sawed the pallets in half lengthwise,
to form the two long sides of the crate.
This sawzall does a great job,
but a jigsaw could also be used.
The sawzall cuts right through nails  
like buttah,
making the dismantling of pallets a breeze .

We also removed the boards from the other side of each piece,
to be used for the shorter sides of the crate.
No waste!

The removed pieces were cut in half,
 and it was time to assemble the crate.

The shorter boards were simply screwed onto the short ends.
We used 2-inch wood screws and placed four on each board.
The top and bottom of the crate are left open,
and we'll add straw to the bottom to help keep the soil in place.

It turned out better than I expected
and I am so grateful to have had a helper on this project.
I'm already thinking about other things to make with the pallet wood.
One idea is a walkway down to the garden.

This weekend we will plant our homegrown sweet potato slips.
Let the growing begin!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day 2019


To those who gave all, we salute you.
God bless our veterans, today and everyday.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Garden Friday

Vampires beware!
It's Garden Friday and time is up for the garlic.

Last weekend I was able to harvest the garlic and shallots 
from one of the 4 X 4 raised beds.
The outer leaves had turned brown,
which indicates that its 9-month incubation period was over.

I have to say,
this is the nicest garlic crop I've ever grown.
The heads were huge and firm with roots galore!

I got the starts from Sow True Seed in Asheville,
and I'm very pleased with the results.
Garlic is so easy to grow.
(Here's our post on planting.)
You place the cloves in the hole,
water once in a while (usually rainfall is enough),
and fertilize once or twice during the growing time.
The hardest part is waiting the 9 months to harvest. 
The best of the heads will be saved
for planting this coming fall.

Shallots are pretty much the same,
with a hands-off approach.
The shallots come as bulbs and grow into 
long-stalked beauties and lend a mild onion flavor
to most anything they share a pan with.

I'm fairly impressed with these as well.
In the fall, when they are planted again,
 ample space will be created for them
so that I can get more at harvest time.
I never seem to grow enough!
It worked out well growing them in the two 4 X 4 raised beds.
Now that these have been picked,
I can use the bed for sweet potatoes,
which will be ready  to harvest in time to put in more garlic and shallots.

One of the shallot plants didn't fare so well.
It was one of the plants that I decided to cut off the flower.
I'm not sure if water got into the plant that way or what,
but the shallot was mushy and waterlogged.
Into the compost pile it went.
I think I will leave the flowers intact next go 'round.

These crops need curing,
so they are lying in the garage
where the skin will become papery.
It takes from two to four weeks.
At that time, the stalks can be cut off
and the bounty stored in the house.
No need to buy garlic for a while.
That gives this gardener a feeling of overwhelming satisfaction.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Community Garden Workday for May (2019)

This past Saturday was our monthly workday for the Community Garden.
A small crew came out to do a bit of maintenance.
We all noted how well the garden seems to be doing,
thanks to some tweaking of the irrigation by several members.

The main job for this workday was to harvest the garlic,
but it wasn't quite ready.
Once the two outer leaves turn brown and dry out,
the garden will be revisited to get the task done.
We moved on to weeding,
a job that never seems to end!

The lavender that was transplanted last month
is doing well along the perimeter bed.
It will be so lovely to see and smell the fragrant blooms!

Every bed is spoken for at this point,
and those who are leasing beds have been busy planting.

Several beds contained summer squash in various stages.

This profusion of peas is popping out of its box!

The sweet purple flowers are an added bonus.

There were plenty of tomatoes ripening on the vine.

The okra was seeded last month and has taken off!
The improvement in the irrigation has made all the difference.

Luscious lettuce of several varieties had my mouth watering.
Early spring is the ideal time to enjoy this harvest.
It's warm enough to grow, but cool enough to prevent bug problems.
At least for now.

These potato beetles were found in the eggplant bed.
Read more about how to deal with these pests.

With our work quickly done,
a friend and I decided to check out a couple of thrift stores in town.
It was a good balance of volunteer time and me time.
So glad to be part of the crew.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Garden Friday

 Welcome back to Garden Friday.
There's a lot of green going on in these parts.
The cool snap we had this week didn't seem to bother a thing.
Here's what we've got growing.

 The lettuce is still tasty, although some is turning bitter,
with the onset of bolting.
There are baby lettuces and newly sown varieties as well,
so I hope to be able to harvest for the next few weeks.

 It's yummalicious time!
Snap peas are consumed fresh off the vine,
so they usually don't even make it into the house.
It's my reward for doing my gardening chores.

 The October beans germinated well and are growing the best
out of all the varieties I have tried.
These were obtained from a local nursery.

 It never ceases to amaze me that we can grow enough food
to feed a family, all starting with just a tiny seed.

 The first nasturtium leaf was sampled this week.
I had known about the flowers being edible,
but recently learned that the leaves can be eaten as well.
I could see adding this to salads.
Nasturtiums are planted as a companion plant
throughout the garden, to help ward off pests.

 The leeks in the hugelkultur bed were planted 
at the same time...

as these in their own container.
The difference in maturation is massive!
Maybe they need their own space
and felt crowded in the big bed.
It might be good to have two different harvest times,
that way we can extend the season of eating.

 Sweet potato slips are doing well in the indoor "greenhouse".
With their planting time approaching,
I think we might just have enough to get a bunch in the ground.

This was the first time I've grown my own slips,
and I will be repeating the practice next year.
It was so easy, and fun to watch besides!

 Our local ACE hardware was giving away free onion sets,
since the season is more or less over.
How can you pass up free?
I grabbed a handful of firm, dry bulbs.

 Another gift I received just yesterday,
was these Indiana cantaloupe seeds from a neighbor.
She said that she used to buy these melons
when she lived up north, and they were the best things she ever tasted.
I'll throw some in a pot and see what we get.

The mailbox bed has been a bit disappointing.
I sowed a mess of flower seeds in it
and only a handful of things have come up.
Guess I'll be scouting the next plant swap or farmers' market
to get some things to fill in.
The flush of the iris blooms is eagerly being awaited.

A fresh coat of paint helped our butterfly marker
brighten right up.
It is placed in the butterfly bed,
which is filling out quite nicely.


It's a stupendous time to be a gardener here in the Piedmont.
With daytime temps in the high 70's and low humidity,
it's a wonder I come into the house at all.

Here's hoping that you are able to enjoy
all Mother Nature has to offer.