Friday, March 24, 2023

Garden Friday

Welcome to Garden Friday,
where we share what's happening on our
Zone 7 Piedmont homestead.
(These double daffs are beautiful,
but not as helpful to the pollinators as singles.)

Our biggest project this week was to spread
three yards of gravel along the back walkway.
Using the mower and one of our small trailers
sure makes the job a lot less tiresome.

Although this type of work is taxing,
it's good for my bone building
and gives such a feeling of satisfaction,
when things around the homestead are looking their best.

We also used some of the gravel to fill in a ditch
near the chicken run to aid in diverting rainfall.
There is sometimes standing water,
which is not good for the chooks.
Hopefully, this will remedy the situation.

The garden is coming alive!
 We may have had our last night of freezing temps,
and I am working quickly to get things ready for spring planting.
Here are a few of the winter sowing seedlings 
that will be transplanted to larger pots
or directly into the garden in the next week or so:

tat soi



red ripper beans
The beans may be babied a bit longer,
as it is probably not the ideal time to plant them out.

buttercrunch lettuce

As you can see,
we have plenty of lettuce growing.
I'm hoping to use some of it as part of my
ongoing experiment with foodscaping.
It'll be nice to share some of it with friends as well.

These lettuce plants were all germinated
using the winter sowing method,
then transplanted to cell trays.
It's taken about a month for them to get this far.

We'll have several varieties ready for eating in no time,
with resowing taking place to encourage a staggered harvest.
I've never grown on this scale before,
but the winter sowing method made me a believer! 

I actually had time on Tuesday
to transplant and fertilize some of the seedlings.
Fish emulsion was used to soak the cell pots
in repurposed sheet pans for 20 minutes.
The cookie sheets are an efficient way
to bottom water young crops.

The cell pots were then placed
in the garlic bed to grow a bit more,
until they are ready to put out in the landscape or garden bed.

 With spring temperatures ushering forth,
only a few beds required covering overnight in the past week,
as there were delicate seedlings placed here.

The sweet potato slips are coming along
and were pinched off of the spuds
and placed in water to grow.
We have plenty of time before these are planted.

Here's hoping that spring is coming up 
wherever you call home.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Garden Friday


candytuft and tulips
Welcome to Garden Friday!
Spring is still weeks away, 
but you'd never know it by what's popping up!

The sweet potatoes leftover from last season
were added to a baking tray filled with soil.
This is the new way I'm creating slips to plant 
out in the garden later on.
For now, they reside in our funky space
we affectionately deem "the spa room".
Once the slips start forming,
they will be pinched off and added to a jar with water to form roots.

These pots were found at the big box store
and are being saved to transplant our blueberry bushes.
Although I've amended the soil two years in a row,
our pH was still much too high for them to thrive.
The containers will buy me at least a year,
so that I can try to remediate the problem and test again.
These pots are not only made in the USA,
but they are fashioned from ocean plastic!

Our first Birdie bed has been assembled.
Big K helped with this project,
as he is a master of all things nuts-n-bolts.
Truth be told, I could have easily done the job myself,
it was that easy.

The bed will be used strictly for strawberries,
which I've ordered from our local Cooperative Extension office.
I still have some fairly healthy plants that I will transplant as well.
The bottom of the bed was filled with twigs and dried leaf mulch.

The potting soil was added and there will be room at the top
for homemade compost and more shredded leaves.
I love the look and plan to replace the existing beds with Birdie's
as the budget allows.
The washtub (behind and to the right),
will be repurposed as a dust bathing vessel for the chooks.
They can use another place to primp and preen themselves.

Lettuce has been transplanted into the Mr. Stacky pots.
There are two more tiers to this system,
but I just wanted to start with a few to see
how well they do on the back deck.
After they grow a bit more,
the wire (used to deter squirrels from digging)
will be removed and the pots will be stacked.

One of our tasks this week was cleaning out
all of the birdhouses on the property.
C enjoys helping with this
and the weather couldn't have been better!
We're ready for all of our feathered friends to join the family!

 Spring is almost here,
and all of the gardeners I know are SO excited!
What a blessing this season is for so many.
Enjoy your week!

Friday, March 3, 2023

Garden Friday

Welcome to Garden Friday,
where we share our Zone 7b Piedmont garden.
Asparagus has been emerging from its winter sleep.
It is sampled while working outside,
a true springtime treat.

Yukon Gold potatoes were planted this week,
one of several sowings I hope to do.
In past years, they were all planted at the same time,
and harvested that way as well.
This early planting shouldn't be upset
by any cold snaps coming our way,
and another round or two sown later on.

The Ruth Stout method is being employed,
something I've never tried before.
The mulch next to the garlic beds was moved
and the spuds were laid right on the soil.
No preparation or amendment was involved,
unless you count some curious chooks 
scratching, digging and "fertilizing" the area before planting.
The rows will be covered in organic straw
and left alone.  As the foliage shoots up,
more straw will be added to cover and avoid
sunlight from penetrating the crops.
I'm also toying with the idea of using this method
to grow sweet corn this summer.
Isn't it just grand that there is always something new to try?
This gardener will definitely be checking out Ms. Stout's books
on my next trip to the library.

The garlic is benefiting from our consistent rainfall.
At least once a week,
we get an ample soaking.
I haven't run the irrigation once this winter.

The winter sowing has been a game changer for me.
I have always tried to grow seedlings in the house,
but have had limited success.
This method, which is fairly hands-off,
has worked miraculously!
I will never go back to anything else.
No need for grow lights, heat mats,
or even a greenhouse.
Just look at the germination in this bin.
They have all been this way.

Once the seedlings hit the top of the container,
(the lid is mostly closed, except for very warm days),
they get transplanted to cell trays.
Using a bamboo skewer, holes in potting soil were made
to receive each seedling.
The starts were lifted by the leaves
and gently placed into each cell.
The root development was like nothing
I've ever grown before!

Placing welded wire over the trays
helps to deter squirrels from using them
as a hiding place for their food stash.
It also dissuades the chooks from pecking at them
when they are roaming the garden.

Okay, I think it's fair to say,
that I've fully embraced this method of growing.
Each one of these reused lettuce bins
has about 50 seedlings in them.
I'm thinking I will have more than enough to share
with friends and neighbors who want to grow their own food.

 Look at this darling chart I found on The Farmer's Almanac!
It's a great visual about companion planting,
and at a glance, it's easy to tell which crops
play well with others.
I love it so much, I am planning to frame it.

We added a cattle panel arch
to the back entrance to the garden area.
It will be seeded with something lovely,
maybe peas, morning glory or clematis.

In the front flower beds,
spring is popping up all over.
Here, the black-eyed susan is enveloping the bird bath.
The weather will soon be mild enough
for us to put out our new birdbath that a friend made.

The salvia is coming back with no prompting from me.
This is one of my favorite perennials,
as it is so easy to grow.
I look forward to sharing with you the new design beds
that a fellow master gardener is helping me with.
The idea is to use mostly what I already have,
and creating a cohesive space to enjoy.

The mums that grew to be gargantuan,
will be relocated to ensure that they
have enough room to spread out.

The new tarps are in place in the chook run.
I can't tell you how much better it looks.

The bonus is that they are weather resistant,
and this white one in particular keeps the chooks dry.
The streamlined look really appeals to me.
We ended up adding another cattle panel to this side
of the run, so that we could open up the tarp completely
and give them more shade and protection from our ever present rain.
An added blessing of the rain, is that it has shown me
where I need to work on the chicken run
to improve the drainage.
I will get out there with a shovel and maybe some river rocks
to create a more aesthetically pleasing system.
It's important to keep standing water out of the run,
as chickens are prone to bumblefoot in wet conditions.

The chooks enjoy some mealworms on their 
They also get to free range several times a week
when I am outside working in the yard.
No doubt they are finding a few more things to eat out there!

Thank you so much for stopping by to visit.
May you enjoy wherever life finds you.