Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bloom Where You Are Planted - my garden pictures!

I love my vegetable garden. I am so inspired by others' garden pictures that I wanted to share my own.

Our rustic path up the hill, guarded by our "gate"-
with a path wide enough for our wheelbarrow.
I didn't garden last year. And in this neighborhood, we fight thistles like crazy. I am always pulling them out of my garden, but they have very complex interconnected root systems (think: horseradish) so unless you are willing on pulling all-out biochemical warfare on multiple fronts for long-term periods of time, you have to deal with them. That doesn't mesh well with my organic farming practices :) Since we didn't garden last year, I allowed my husband to wage such an attack, but he lost, due to time constraints and his carpal tunnel getting so bad he had surgery and recovery over the summer. ...so the thistles are worse than ever!

And the battle continues...

gate made with leftover fencing and a stake. 
I just shove the stake in the ground to hold it open or closed :)
 Here is what I get to open when it is time to garden. I love my primitive "gate". It is the epitome of simplicity. I love how my garden fills me with contentment. Sure, I could have wood-framed fencing around my garden with mulch around my organically-fertilized plants in my perfectly and meticulously weeded garden beds, and it stands as a gem in the corner of my perfectly manicured fescue.

But that's not happening here.

This is organized chaos!

see the little pumpkin plant starting in the center?
Like my top "bed" which is outside the parameter of the fencing. I plant my vining plants up here. Mainly pumpkins. They have to grow with the weeds up here in the native clay soil instead of the black dirt in the beds. (like the volunteer tree in the fencing we have to move?)

 I love marking my garden with primitive sticks that probably only make sense to me. It's easier that going back to the garage when I realize I need some more stakes. I just grab anything that has fallen nearby, or is unused in my garden already, like this old splintered and cracked bamboo pole that held up my beans two years ago. Now it is split in four, marking where I planted my rows of corn.
Along the front of this bed is my row of peas, ready to start climbing up on my hog panels I bought at the local farm store this year. I'm so excited to see how they work - especially on my tomatoes! This corner of my garden was filled with crab grass and we didn't quite get all of it when we tilled it. But pulling it out will have to wait so I don't kill the delicate pea plants.

cabbage and baby seedlings off to the upper right of the plants.  
Peas in the foreground.
Way in back, I have my rhubarb, which is doing ten times better than it ever had been (thanks to harvesting wisdom I've been heeding) and in front of it I had some room leftover, so I planted some old cabbage seeds in the ground. A few weeks later, I still didn't see any plants coming up so when I saw cabbage plants for half off at the greenhouse, I bought them. Sure enough, right after I planted them, teeny cabbage plants started growing from the seed! I guess I'll have LOTS of cabbage this year! I teased my husband that I'll be having to make sauerkraut!!
This spring, I shoveled-and-turned 2 of the beds which took almost 5 hours to do because I attempted to sift the thistle roots out of it. This was one of the beds. I just weeded the thistles out again yesterday. But at least my plants got a good jump-start ahead of the thistles. I still had to be very careful not to pull up my plants and hopefully I didn't kill too many! I have lots of stuff in this bed! I'm bummed that my celery plants died, though - they are one of my FAVORITE plants to have in the garden because of how rarely I use fresh celery, and this (for the cost of one bunch at the grocery store) keeps all summer long!

more tomatoes, basil, cilantro,
(dead) kohlrabi, (dead) celery :(   , peppers and eggplant

And that is a whole twelve foot row of tomatoes planted along the front, there. I hope they don't overgrow the hog panels. For those who want to know the difference, hog panels are about 36- 40 inches high, with closer spaced wire at the bottom. Cattle panels are more like 50-54 inches high and have the same six inch grid spacing. Both types of panels cost around $20 each for a 16 foot panel. And of course, for the indecisive, you can get combination panels that combine the spacing of the hog panel and the height of the cattle panel and cost about $30 each. (and please forgive my measurements - Its been awhile since I bought them and don't recall the exact measurements)
Lots here - lavender, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts
The next bed has another row of Roma tomatoes planted along the front, along with lots more greenhouse plants.
Strawberries, chives and Red and Yukon potatoes in back
My second-from bottom bed has my strawberries in it. I have let them take over one half of the bed, all though, we had to till up strawberry plants that had creeped to the other side of the chives and into the bottom bed as well. I usually have these covered with an old, very thin, loose weaved blanket to keep out the birds, but I left it off so the strawberries could re-pollinate again. I'm not sure the bees and bugs could really get though that blanket freely. Making a better cover for the strawberries out of chicken wire might need to be my project for next year. On the other half of the bed I have some space for a pea-house, though I haven't planted the pole peas with the girls yet and them potatoes (reds and youkons) behind it.

Hopefully will grow 4-6 rows of carrots with seed-taping.
Last but least, I have my carrots. I had prepped the seeds by seed-taping them last spring but then decided against planting after that, so these guys have been in my garage since. In all honesty, I've had a little trouble with the seed-taped plants in the past. But its about the only way I'll plant something such as tiny carrot seeds. I put them in the bottom bed to help the soil stay moist so they will hopefully germinate and grow out of that TP and flour-glue that they are stuck to.

You can plant a seed.  You can water it... But only God can make it grow.

In addition to my garden, we planted a new apple tree (Honeycrisp) because the old one got eaten by deer and rabbits.
We have our blueberry bushes covered with oh-so-stylish plastic crates to protect them from the rabbits by the house.  I'll have to brainstorm a better barrier for them for next year.  They were pretty-much chewed down to the ground this spring, so for now they fit under the crates. 

We moved (and subsequently killed) our very healthy grape vine to the other side of our A/C unit to plant under a trellis on our pergola - so we have 2 new grape vines growing this year.

And we have our patio project we have been working on this spring...

We just planted a flowering crab tree last weekend!  This will shield the western sun (eventually) from the patio.  Lots of work to do here - staining the deck steps and waterproofing/staining the trellis, building the planter by the house, adding the locking sand to the patio and patching the grass with seed.

home-made Topsy-turvey planters out of Hawaiian Punch 1+ gallon bottles.

 And I gave my homemade topsy-turvey tomato planters another try this year. They are wanting to grow UP, though. Hopefully the weight of the tomatoes won't snap them. Maybe I should gently weigh them down a bit? Other than that, they are doing really well - better than they did last year.  I'll have to post on how to make these if they do ok.
...I think I'm going to have to find some of these a new home!
Oh, and last but not least, I did the same thing with the new Asparagus as I did with the cabbage! I've never grown asparagus before, but I couldn't pass up giving it a try in my old garlic pot (half sand, half soil). I bought some asparagus roots on clearance, taking a chance on them since they looked so dead and dried out. A week after planting them, DD5 decided to play in what she thought was an empty planter and dug up half of them!! So when I saw actual asparagus plants on clearance, I bought those and planted them with the roots. This week, I have both!! The whispies are the planted asparagus, and there are tiny asparagus spears coming up from the dried roots! (the pot is currently weighing down the tarp covering our extra sand from the patio project)

Hubs and DD8 shoveling dirt a few years back - 2008?
I love gardening because there is always more you can do, but it is so rewarding to get a crop with very little effort.  Don't get me wrong - I'm not talking about building the garden - that obviously took a LOT of work (thanks Hubs!) and hauling wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of dirt up the hill to the beds - but you can start with the topsy-turvy planters.  You can start with herbs in a pot.   I think it reminds me of how little I actually AM in control of things.  I can't help it if it hails.  I can't help it if it gets too windy, and sometimes it is just too dry or I'm too busy to water and plants die.  I think we have lost our touch with the earth and agriculture that our ancestors had.  It puts us in perspective...and it will go on and on - people have been farming for thousands of years and they will continue to.  It just gives me peace that everything is going to be O.K., one way or another.  I can't explain it.

What really makes it worth it for me is to have an abundance for out of season - to know where it came from and to share it with others.  There is always another project around the corner, or an idea that might make something work better, or a new veggie to try.  Sounds crazy, but I find contentment in that.  I know (especially from last year) what it is like to not have the garden.  And I appreciate everything it gives me and my family.  I find it a peaceful and rewarding process.

That's it for now!  I hope this inspires you, too!

Garden 2011 - Bloom Where You Are Planted

It has been a long, LONG time since I blogged. Last year seemed like rock bottom in many ways - I was trying to figure out what stays and what goes in terms of hobbies, must-dos and don't-wanna-do,-but-really-should-do-because-someone-is-counting-on-me dos. So I didn't blog, didn't coupon, didn't even really garden. I have some ongoing personal-life concerns that deserve and take much of my attention when that person needs it, and that is more important than most of my other responsibilities. At the end of the summer, I took on a new role at church, planning a third of the music for the year for our services. It was quite time consuming at first, but now it seems to have found it's rhythm. I have just focused on my family and their needs and my new responsibilities at church. I really missed those outlets I cut out but there simply wasn't time for them and I'm glad I cut them out for a season. It reminds me of how God instructs the Israelites to take a break every seventh year - to not plant fields, to celebrate and to reconnect. Last summer was our 4th in our home, sixth in this town relocated to, so I guess we wern't far off!!

Speaking of seasons, this summer is my final season of being an at-home mom with a kid home with me all day, most days. My youngest starts all-day, every-day Kindergarten this fall. People have asked me if I'm going back to work or what and I have been saying "No, I'm just going to try to do what I do, better."

Better to me, means:
--devotional time
--planning more meals
--being more timely in fulfilling favors to people and other responsibilities.
--scrapbooking moments, not memories (i.e. something special the kid did rather than a Christmas page, Birthday Page, etc.) and other creative endeavors
--keeping the house cleaner
--being more on-top of the kids' responsibilities (cleaning rooms, chores, discipline and trying to start devotional time with them as well)

I am not gifted with kids. Sounds crazy since I'm a mother. That's why I don't have 19 kids. I enjoy mine, but I know, KNOW, I will benefit from some quiet, uninterrupted time each day to take care of some of those outside stresses and to-dos, so I can be more present, relaxed and purposeful with my kids when they are home. That's why I've been focusing on building in some "me" time rather than jumping into the workforce. Whether I do or not, or return to college to finish my degree is up to God - and so far He is not leading me down that path.

I guess this was longer than I thought it'd be - I'll post my garden pictures on the next post!!