A garden is the best alternative therapy.

Posts tagged ‘raised bed’

Trellising the Melons

The new garden bed, measuring 4’x8′ has run out of room.  As I thought would happen, the melon vines have monopolized the existing space in the garden, leaving nowhere to go but UP.  With a little bit of expediency this weekend, I fashioned a homemade trellis using 2×3’s and nylon cord.  Luckily, I planted right and put the melons on the south side of the bed.  By trellising the melon vines on the south side of the bed, I won’t be blocking any sunlight from the rest of the veggie plants.

The materials used consisted of two eight-foot sections of 2″x3″ boards, each cut into halves.  I staked the four four-foot sections into the ground a couple of inches, then screwed each into the side of the garden bed and, for good measure, reinforced each attached board with two galvanized steel braces.  I drilled a hole every eight inches or so up each four-foot section and ran nylon cord through each hole and pulled the cord taught before tying it off.

After the trellis was installed, I carefully tied the cantaloupe vines to the cords to begin training the vines up and through the trellis.  The watermelon (planted last) isn’t quite long enough to start training, but I attached cords to the vines to begin pulling them towards the trellis.  I imagine that within a week it will be creeping up through the cords alongside the cantaloupe.

I have lots of flowers so far and the bees have been very interested, so hopefully soon I’ll start seeing the first of the melons!

Looking West

Looking East

Looking South

The southeast corner of the veggie bed

Cantaloupe tied to trellis

Now hopefully we'll get some melons!

Checking up on the Veggie Garden

I have been so fascinated with flower, bee and butterfly pictures for the past few weeks that I have not posted a vegetable garden update.  Before the rain moved in this week, I woke up early Wednesday morning and grabbed a bag of compost, a bag of bat guano, a bag of bone meal and headed out to the garden.   The pictures included in this post were taken Saturday morning.

One of the last pictures I posted of the veggies was of a newly forming yellow crookneck squash.  The plant soon died of neglect, I’m sad to say.  Now I have an empty spot and I’m debating whether or not to try another round, or go with a different variety altogether.  That same variety failed for me last year as well.

Meanwhile, the zucchini is doing well and has been flowering.  Maybe soon it will start producing.  There is no shortage of pollinators in the yard, though I wonder if they are too busy loving on all of the natives to come and pollinate my zucchini!   I went ahead and worked some compost into the soil, then sprinkled bat guano around the plant and watered lightly to let it absorb a little.  The rain did a better job at working it in anyway.  You can see the remaining Red Sail lettuce there next to the zucchini.  It looks beautiful and has a wonderful, glossy, deep red color.  Unfortunately, since weather has been so warm, it has turned bitter.  Yet, I think this shows how resistant this variety is to bolting.  We’ve had several days of ninety degree weather and it is still compact.    This weekend I will actually have to buy lettuce for the first time in six months.

The cucumbers have really started to vine out this past week, which is good because I was starting to worry about them.  I have since tied them to the tomato cage for support, which only seems to have encouraged them.  These, too, did not make it last fall, so I am wary of their success.   I do have my fingers crossed! I gave them more compost and a sprinkling of guano as well.

The Blue Lake bush beans are coming along and they are flowering like crazy and producing lots of green pods!   The Tendergreen variety didn’t survive all of the wind.  I had started them inside and they did get pretty leggy before I transplanted them.  Then all of the strong winds took their toll on their thin stalks.  I will be resowing more this weekend.  As with the other veggies, I applied a side-dressing of guano.

I pulled up the parsley and added it to the compost pile (first, however, I made sure there weren’t any black swallowtail caterpillars – there weren’t).  Then I pulled up the lettuce and worked the soil over really well, adding some bone meal, fresh compost and bat guano.  I’m not sure what I will plant there – quite possibly more tomatoes.  I thought about retrying squash in this location, so a butternut or another summer squash might be in the not-too-distant future.

The carrots are still forming, so I have left them.  I gave them a good fertilizing with bone meal, which is a good source of phosphorus for developing roots.  I hope to be harvesting some carrots within the next couple of weeks, but I think they should definitely be ready to pull up within a month.  I don’t know how long they will last into the warmer weather.

Also in the carrot bed are three tomato plants that are also now flowering.  I will continue to pinch those flowers until I’m happy with the sizes of the plants.  I want them to get bigger and bushier first.  To encourage that, I also gave them compost and a side-dressing of guano.

My pepper bed is coming along slowly.  The cooler nights still aren’t ideal.  They like the soil to be at least 70 degrees.  The larger jalapeno plants have been producing flowers and buds like crazy, but I’ve been pinching them off to encourage a bushier plant.  I went ahead and gave them all a good amount of fresh compost and applied guano around the base of each.

Check back later this weekend for an update on the flower beds and the development of the black swallowtail caterpillars of which I now have twelve on my fennel.

Update: Garden Path and Butterfly Garden installation

***UPDATE*** (I have transplanted creeping thyme between the flagstones on the path, click here to view Thyme To Transplant Between the Flagstones)

The landscaping project is well on its way now.  After coming home early yesterday, I drove down to Austin Landscaping Supplies and picked up a 1/2 yard of soil for the native plant beds.  With a little help from my daughter, we cut open a bag full of paper grocery bags, then used those to line the bottom of the bed (after the sod was removed).  Then we unloaded the dirt and dumped it in one of the beds.  The half yard was enough to fill one of the beds completely.   Then Michelle and I got up early this morning so I could strip the sod from the other bed, then we ran down to ALS again for another half yard.  With my daughter and my wife’s help, we had completed the beds before noon and were sitting enjoying an ice-cold glass of tea while we marveled at our work.

We arranged the plants in the bed to get a feel for how they will look.  We had to play with them a little – and we still have about thirteen plants that are being shipped and haven’t arrived.  Ten of those are milkweed plants and three are black-eyed susans.  They were on sale with reduced shipping, so I thought, “Why not?”  Butterflies love B.E.S., and mine that I’m growing from seed are not looking great.  We haven’t yet transplanted any of the plants, but that is something we’ll tackle today or tomorrow.  I just wanted to put out a quick update of the progress.

Native bed 1: Verbena, Aster, Milkweed, Lantana, Black Eyed Susans ... and more

Native bed 1: Verbena, Lantana, Fall Aster, Milkweed, Thyme, Black-Eyed Susans and more

Native bed 2: Indigo Spires, Salvia Greggii, Rosemary, Mexican Mint Marigold, Black Eyed Susans, Copper Canyon Daisies, Trailing Lantana, Zexmenia, Butterfly Weed, Milkweed, Four Nerve Daisies

Another view of the second native bed

Herbiliciousness

The herb garden is going crazy!

Herb garden 4/3/10: German Thyme, Greek Oregano, Mexican Oregano, Curry, Sage, Chives, Marjoram

The Herb Garden: June 6, '09 (left), Sept. 6, '09 (center), and April 3, '10 (right).

Looking back at early pictures of the garden, it is clear that they are thriving.  There isn’t much room for the basil plants anymore, but I’m going to put them in anyway.  They could use the competition.  In the center picture, you can also see the broccoli seedlings – of which we are still enjoying harvests.  The mint cuttings there were put in the ground and have taken over the corner of the yard.  Also pictured are rosemary cuttings, which are also pictured below.

The sage plants have certainly rebounded from just a couple of weeks ago.  They didn’t care much for the wet winter, but the warm, sunny weather we’ve enjoyed lately have really turned them on.  🙂  As you can see, they’re preparing to flower:

The culinary sage getting ready to flower

You can see by these pictures how dense the garden has become.  Look at how prolific the oregano is – there’s no stopping it.  It snakes in and around the other plants, finding more sunshine towards the edge of the bed.

Sage, Curry and Thyme (oh, and oregano poking through)

Marjoram bush and sage

Thyme, Sage, Oregano and Chives

The parsley is taking over and needs a trim.

Spearmint and peppermint

The lavender is finally blooming as well!  It is a fantastic sight to see the lavender stalks shoot up, then two little “bunny ears” stick out the top before the entire bud bursts forth with dark purple blooms filled with yellow pollen.

Spanish lavender blooming

Lavender bloom up close and personal

Can't get too much lavender

My daughter took this of a bug sitting on the lavender

Last fall I took rosemary cuttings and planted them. They've got lots of growth now.

First wildflower blooms!

I could hardly contain my excitement yesterday when I came home to discover that the first wildflower had bloomed.  The winner is the cornflower:

The first of the wildflowers!

The next day, while working on the Native beds, Michelle wandered down the fence and yelled, “Joe!  Come look!”  Not only were more cornflowers opening, but the first poppy opened as well!  The poppy amazed us by how large it is, and how paper thin the petals are!   The wildflower bed has a lot of poppies, so I’m sure it will only be a few days until many more open up!

Another cornflower

and a pink one!

A cornflower opening ...

Here is another opening

A poppy standing tall, almost ready to bloom

the first poppy bloom

Inside the poppy

Here are a few more pictures of the wildflower bed as well:

The entire bed

Some of the tallest at the northeast corner of the yard

A spider crawling on a poppy

My daughter snapped this one - the spider is hiding at the top

Spider web among the wildflowers

Macro Monday

For Macro Monday, here are pictures of the broccoli plants in the garden (all can be viewed larger).  They’ve grown considerably the past week and all plants are now displaying crowns.

Broccoli crown #1

Broccoli crown #2

Macro

Broccoli crown #3

Broccoli crown #4

Macro #2

Broccoli crown #5

Broccoli crown #6

Macro #4

Broccoli crown #7

Please visit Lisa’s Chaos for more Macro Monday:

First spinach harvest – YUM.

Tonight, we made a homemade alfredo and started the dish off with a nice mixed salad of three types of organically, home-grown lettuce (Red Sail, Cosmo Savoy & Buttercrunch) … and, for the first time ever, a generous helping of hearty, earthy and rich tasting spinach for each of us.   We typically buy Central Market baby spinach and occasionally some of the organic spinach bunches, but this spinach was unlike any I’ve ever had before.  The wide crinkly leaves of this variety are thick, so it has a lot of substance in the mouth, yet the flesh is tender.

Now I understand why Popeye was crazy about this stuff!  🙂

fresh, crisp lettuce

and a large plate of fresh spinach leaves!