I don't have a good picture of the garlic I just planted, but the weather has gone back to being rather pleasant, so I went ahead and planted it.
Two varieties - each clove should grow into a new bulb by early summer. Garlic should be exponential (except we'll probably eat a lot of it!). Both varieties come from Sow True up in Asheville, NC, a company I'd highly recommend getting a catalog from as you plan your garden for next year!
The two varieties I planted are Fireball and Susanville. See you all in the spring, or maybe early in the year when I start getting antsy and making lists!
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
A few weeks ago, we finally picked one of the watermelons that had been hanging out and growing outside. It was okay, not very sweet, but I'd neglected to water them much and we had not seen rain in what felt like weeks at that point. I know the secret to sweetness is generous watering.
Our crops of greens are also doing fairly well, although those in the bed closest to the house aren't getting as much sun now that it has shifted, and might not grow well enough. We have mustard greens, kale, radishes, watercress, and collards growing. Yum!
Sunday, September 19, 2010
We went out to do the work in the garden, pulling out things that were done, trimming back the tomatoes and marigolds again, and planting more greens for fall. And look what we found!
I had dismissed the sweet potatoes, thought I'd planted them too early, but then I put my hand deeper in the soil, haha! Now I'm following the recommendations on the Clemson Extension Website about curing them, and they are laying out in the garage where I'm certain it will stay quite warm for the next 14 days!
Today we pulled out the basil, and in the bed by the house we planted giant mustard greens from Sow True and more kale. Radishes were planted where the sweet potatoes came out of, after adding mushroom compost to everything. We are already altering the soil as we go!
As we trimmed back the marigolds I found some renegate carrots that look short, stubby, but healthy. We also are still finding strawberries to eat, go figure.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
It has been so hot that some of my fall/winter greens are NOT happy. They are also not happy because they are being munched on by ants and caterpillars. I caught a few in the act and took their picture before throwing them over the fence.
My pumpkins are spindly little plants that probably won't make it, I still don't know when to pick my watermelons, and I waited too long to harvest the basil. I've been drying lemon grass for tea, and my marigolds are going strong!
I might rip out more things in the morning and plant another hopeful crop of winter greens. Is it too late? I guess we'll see.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
We're kind of in a lull season in the garden - picking and eating a lot of tomatoes, planting a bunch of green things for fall, and waiting for pumpkins and melons to ripen. If timing is everything, it is the one thing we lack in our first year of gardening. I picked one watermelon way too soon, and we had to throw it out because it wasn't ripe enough to eat. If I wait until it seems right, the bugs get there first. Is there a magic formula? There are others starting to grow as the vines slowly take over the entire west side of the lawn. It would be nice to actually get to eat one of them!
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Ahh, well, last time I posted I ranted without photos. I had hopes that the heirlooms I grew from seed wouldn't suffer the same fate as my transplants, but this was what I discovered when I looked more closely at the Amish paste tomatoes. I guess the other tomatoes I grew from seed from the same company were organic but not heirloom, and are doing so well that I made tomato salad for dinner. Next year - no heirlooms. I'm kind of in mourning about it. After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle I had it in my head that eventually I would grow only heirloom plants in my garden, so we could have unique varieties of plants that we couldn't just buy at store. Good for genetic variety, good for feeling like the time and cost is justified.
Admittedly, the heirloom greens grew without problem. Maybe it is just tomatoes that aren't meant to be. I find ripping the plants out by their roots incredibly therapeutic, and I'll quit pouting soon.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
This happened last year and this year isn't any better - my heirloom tomatoes look good until they ripen and they turn black and/or mushy, or look beautiful but when you touch them you realize there is no firmness, just pitiful mushy tomatoes, no good for eating.
I'm ripping them out! I follow the Clemson Extension Upstate Horticulture in Facebook, and they announced that fall planting (greens, cabbages, broccoli) should happen this week or next week, and I can use all that space for those plants. I don't see the point in watering or caring for plants that refuse to grow properly.
I'm excited to have greens again, and I have a bunch of heirloom varieties from the Asheville company, Sow True, the place we got our original Appalachian greens seeds from that have out produced anything else in the garden. Is there anything I should keep under consideration when planting in such hot weather? I'm hoping it dips below 90 this week; I'd feel better about that.
I'll let the hybrid cherry and sweet 100 tomatoes live, as well as everything I grew from seed. Now I really don't understand why, but the heirlooms I grew from seed aren't having the same problems as the ones I bought as seedlings and transplanted. Any ideas? We've been getting great yellow pear tomatoes from one.
I didn't take any pictures today, but last weekend I planted pumpkin seeds, some in the raised bed and some in a random pile of dirt near the raspberries. The random dirt seeds have sprouted, and we may have pumpkins this fall!
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Monday, July 5, 2010
It has been a few weeks since I posted, but the garden has still been growing. We are seeing signs of good things to come - including corn that is taller than our fence, cascading squash and melons, and miniature versions of things like squash and melons.
Earlier in the week or maybe last weekend, I pulled the peas and planted new radishes and cucumbers, since we loved and ate all the radishes and the cucumbers in the second bed are starting to be outgrown by the sweet potatoes, strawberries, and marigolds. The radishes haven't popped up yet but it might be too hot.
Over in the herb forest, the smallest box with the most fast-growing plants, some herbs were starting to take over. I had planted Vietnamese coriander without a plan for it, and it would have filled the entire yard if I'd let it. I actually pulled it up completely. The lemon grass I cut down at the base, washed it and it is currently drying on the kitchen table. I know a lot of people cook with it, but I'm planning to put it in a tea blend, because it is so refreshing over ice!
Some of the tomato plants have been growing into giants, particularly the yellow pear that I grew from seed. I've been out every day trying to add extra support and taking off the fruit that the birds have chomped out of. One plant produced puzzling mushy fruit but hopefully it was just a result of several days of thunderstorms. We have been eating small handfuls of the hybid cherry and the sweet 100s, but still waiting for the heirloom plants to ripen.
I need to plant pumpkins soon, and have been contemplating planting them on the hillside outside of our fence. Technically it is still our land, and I'd love to see vines crawling around that hillside! They would get plenty of sun, so it might be a good plan. I've been weeding around the watermelon plants today, and they really reach out and grab the plants growing around the vines. At least on the hill there would be less to contend with.
Friday, June 18, 2010
What a difference a week makes! Even half a week. I'm not sure if it is the organicide, the persistence in removing the beetles and plopping them into soapy water, or the neighbor's questionable decision to put up beetle bag-traps on their mailbox (luring all the beetles into THEIR yard onto THEIR tree) - whatever it is, they seem to have greatly diminished in number. Maybe I shouldn't question it and just be grateful!
The garden has been happy for the thunderstorms. The squash is sprawling, the tomatoes are growing tall, the beans are starting to pop out, and the corn is getting taller! Soon it will be time to plant pumpkins!
This is the harvest I took from the garden today. The strawberries have dropped off, but these were the first tomatoes, and wow were they amazing - sweet and full of flavorful, with that taste that can only come from something grown in the sun. I ended up throwing out the cauliflower because I had let it grow too long and it was woody. The cabbages were hit and miss - one of them had too many worm/slug/beetle holes to really be salvageable but the one in the picture was turned into a gratin dish that can be seen over on the cooking blog. I could use more cabbage recipes that are meat free but not the weight-loss soup or coleslaw.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Here is most of the garden as of today, right after being watered. You aren't seeing the herb bed, the blueberries, the grape, the watermelon plants which are vining around, and the renegade herbs and tomatoes that ended up in the bed we'd originally built for flowers.
We are finally picking strawberries that the birds don't see, as the plants themselves have matured considerably. The cabbages are getting close to needing to be picked, as is the one cauliflower that developed, and most of the first batch of carrots. The marigolds are blooming but they will stay put - they are for the bugs to eat, in hopes they will stay away from the other plants. I've had to trim them back quite a bit, which isn't really a reflection of Square Foot Gardening gone astray, rather the seeds were tiny and I dumped a bunch more than four into my squares!
We are still having a bit of a pest problem. I've done a lot of reading on Japanese beetles in the last few weeks. I know that I want to try Diatomaceous earth, because it will address the beetles, ants, and anything else without being harmful to us or to our dog, but it is hard to find on its own. I found pesticide with it as an ingredient, but I'm not looking to use pesticide on this garden. I've read that putting out traps attracts even more beetles (and not many of them actually go IN, they just find their way to the scent and then munch on your garden), and we've used Organicide since I heard it was made from sesame but even that makes me nervous. Couldn't they include the ingredients on the bottle if that were really the case? All that really did was deter them to other plants in the garden, so it is a frustrating cycle. I've also been removing them by hand and dunking them into soapy water, and shaking the plants in the early hours (I saw that on a blog, but felt silly doing it). I'm hoping the Diatomaceous earth also helps with termites and ants that I see around, since our raised beds are untreated wood, the bugs seem to be happy to move in. It isn't like a swarm or anything, and surely the outdoors should contain bugs, but I want to see as much yield as possible from all of our hard work.
Our tomatoes are definitely starting to come in - most of the plants we put in from transplants that we purchased have growing tomatoes on them (some close to being ready to eat!), and the plants I have nurtured from seeds under lamps inside are growing healthy and strong. For the plants I grew from seed, I went ahead and mashed up calcium supplements to add to the soil when transplanting (since I didn't plant them in straight manure like I really should have), and they seem very hardy. I could still add calcium to the others if I start seeing signs of the blossom rot we had last year in our plants we tried growing in pots. So far, so good. Ahem. *KNOCK ON UNTREATED WOOD*
This is the first squash baby to make an appearance. I have pumpkin seeds to start sometime soon, but need to pick a place to put them in the garden. I'm thinking of starting them in a square and guiding them toward spilling over into a free spot - maybe where the peas were planted, since they are mostly gone to seed at this point. In a Square Foot Garden, Mel says you just add a scoop of compost and plant something new. It is worth a try for sure.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
It is June in the south, and we have had our typical daily thunderstorms. The garden (and the grass, and the weeds) love the rain, so everything is looking pretty lush.
The radishes had started to grow out of control! I couldn't let the greens go to waste, and did a little research to confirm that people do indeed eat radish greens.
This was a much more successful radish harvest than our first attempt a month or so ago. They look plump and healthy.
This is the radish greens as well as some of the mustard greens that needed to be thinned down. They are extra dirty because I had to run out between rain storms, and I had to wash them three times to get all the dirt off!
Our dog Bailey also loves greens. I thought his favorite was kale but the pieces I discarded or dropped he enjoyed as a tasty treat. It is all I can do to keep his paws out of the lettuce and greens bed, so who knows what will happen when the tomatoes start ripening.
We enjoyed eating these greens too! To read about the radish feast, please click here. Radishes aren't just for salad!
Monday, May 31, 2010
This leaf belongs to a cauliflower plant that never grew a cauliflower. I think I'm understanding why that happened, or really, why it didn't, but my question is somewhat tangential. Since there are clearly pests in my garden, should I pull up the plants they are eating that I have no use for anymore (dud cauliflowers, dud cabbages, and so on), or should I leave them so the pests eat them and not anything else?
I saw beetles on my butternut squash plants and got some good feedback in Facebook - I bought Organicide but haven't used it yet. I don't want to put actual pesticides near things we will be eating! But I also don't want to do all this hard work for the pests.
I wanted to acknowledge those of you who keep reading and giving us feedback. It is so helpful in our greenhorn journey!
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Last week the broccoli that was farthest along looked great - compact green buds, but it didn't seem very big, so I didn't harvest it. Now it looks like this. Obviously I should have picked it before now, but when should that have been? And can we still eat this?
The bok choy plants have also started flowering. I vaguely know that this is a sign that the plant is done producing and is ready to create seeds to grow a new crop of itself next year. With basil, for instance, I know how to keep it trimmed but still encourage it to grow, by cutting stalks down where the next buds are forming.
So, please advise me. What should I have done differently. Is this a danger for every plant in my garden? Should I let it happen or somehow trim off the flowering parts? Or if I had trimmed them off earlier, would I be seeing more bok choy rather than these flowers?
This year is all about learning, and doing it better next time.
I'm also wondering. If my cauliflower plants have huge leaves but so far no cauliflower, should I assume they will eventually grow, or are they duds?
Saturday, May 15, 2010
We have our first baby tomatoes on the vine - I think this is from the Mr. Stripey plant. I went around and pulled up all the little volunteer tomatoes that had started to grow, and to put stakes next to some and cages around others, as well as pinching off the tiny sprouts between the branches that would make it less stable. I also transplanted one of the yellow pear plants I started from seed, but I'm waiting to transplant the rest until we've harvested the cabbages and broccoli.
What kinds of tomatoes did you plant? We planted one each of Sweet 100, Mr. Stripey, Black Krim, Arkansas Traveler, Hybrid Cherry, Green Zebra, tomatillo, and then have some from seed for Amish paste and yellow pear.
I bought calcium to put on the tomatoes but haven't done anything with it yet. I'm fearful of fungus but kind of want to see how they do on their own first.
What do you do for your tomatoes to keep them healthy?
Sunday, May 9, 2010
I took this shot from my bedroom window, which shows how nice and neat everything is looking now that the weeds are all mowed down.
A couple of observations:
-We should really trim the huge cabbage leaves back. I read that you can and it won't hurt the plant, and it would stop it from taking over the squares around it.
-The 4-foot stakes were NOT high enough for the eager peas. Next year I'm going to try the net/frame combo that can go up to 5 feet instead of 4.
-The broccoli that is growing the best is the one that actually gets less sun, because it is blocked part of the day by the peas. Hmm.
-I have no idea if I planted leeks right or what/how I should do with them. They look lush though.
-Still need to put netting on the strawberries and consider safeguarding the blueberries as well. Maybe this week!
Finishing the stones between the beds will make this look a lot nicer.
We have started being able to enjoy the vegetables of our labor this week. Besides the post about bok choy, we've had a salad with lettuce from the garden, and a pasta salad with peas and dill from it. That's the point, and it is really happening, not too far into May.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
I remember buying ladybugs when I was young to put in the garden. So I should be feeling happy that they are hanging out on the pea plants.... right?
Our garden is pesticide and chemical free, and I don't want to change that. I was just curious.
Friday, May 7, 2010
It has finally happened - something grew, and we ate it. The bok choy cabbages that are scattered in Raised Beds #1 and #2 were grown from seeds, sprouted inside, transplanted, and have thrived in our warm spring. The Bonnie Early hybrids are still growing, and can't be harvested until there is an entire head there.
But Bok Choy can be harvested a leaf at a time, you just take off the formed outer leaves and leave the tender middle ones to keep growing. I'm not sure at what point you consider the plant "done," but I know we haven't reached that point yet.
The bok choy didn't have to go very far to become Garlic Bok Choy. Hopefully there will be many more new meals in our house that come from the back yard!
Sunday, April 25, 2010
This weekend we picked up some certified organic seeds for corn and beans from the Life Oak Farm Store, herbs from Country Boys and Lichtenfelts, and a few random plants to fill out the raised beds. I still need three more herbs, but couldn't find cilantro anywhere. It is true that it doesn't grow as well in this area because of the heat, but that doesn't mean I won't stubbornly try again this year. For the other two I'm thinking another chives plant since we always use them, and maybe another variety of basil.
What we did plant in the 13/16 squares that have herbs in them - 2 regular basil, 1 peppermint, 1 pineapple mint, 1 dwarf Greek oregano, 1 mother of thyme, 1 rosemary, 1 chives, 1 fennel, 1 flatleaf parsley, 1 garden sage, 1 bouquet dill, and 1 vietnamese coriander. I'm not sure what to use the last one for, but it was pretty and smelled delicious (and of course "coriander" often means cilantro, but it doesn't look anything like regular cilantro!).
Updates on the rest of the garden:
- Raised Bed #1- A lot of what I replanted last weekend has sprouted; radishes, lettuces, cabbages, and carrots continue to grow; the peas are very tall and growing up the stakes, but no sign of peas yet - should I worry?
- Raised Bed #2- Corn and beans are now in the ground in the back two rows (that is the north side of the yard, so they won't block the sun of the other plants). We're closer to finding a solution to keeping the birds out of the strawberries, and the marigolds and radishes are happily growing!
- Raised Bed #3- I've added cages to a few of the tomato plants as they grow, including a stake in the middle of one that was leaning into another square. I planted two butternut squash plants in direct defiance of the advice in the square foot gardening book, so we'll see how that goes. The cabbages are growing beautiful, and I can't wait to see a head start to form!
- Other - I was happy this week to see our grape vine budding because it certainly looked dead. It would be nice if our palmetto tree would do the same thing; we're worried that the Christmas lights didn't heat it enough against the very cold winter (for South Carolina anyway!). I also weeded a hill in the corner and planted two watermelon plants, just to see what they would do. It was either that or a pumpkin!
Our next big project, besides working more on the front yard, is to do some extreme weeding, and putting down stones around the raised beds, on top of sand. That just isn't as fun to me as planting things, but the end result should be quite fulfilling.
For newbie gardeners, one of the things you need to figure out is where to buy plants and gardening supplies. We have a Lowes and a Home Depot just down the road, but I find that the plants I buy there are not always as cared for as they are at nurseries, besides lacking the general variety places devoted just to plants can have.
Some of our favorites:
Country Boys Garden Center
I (Jenny) like them for their amazing variety of plants. Vegetables were 99 cents each, and they had a great selection of heirloom tomatoes in particular this year. Nathaniel feels like they are more cookie-cutter, but are possibly the best combination of good prices with decent variety.
The Garden Treasury
Though a little out of the way for us (we live on the north side of town), this nursery is really close to Woodruff Rd. They were stronger on shrubs, trees, and decorative plants than on vegetables and herbs. The woman who owns it knows a lot and was very helpful, as was another worker who just helps on the weekends. We went here first yesterday, and bought a beautiful wisteria plant for the front yard. When we priced the same plant other places, we discovered we had paid $10-20 less at The Garden Treasury than we would have elsewhere.
Lichtenfelt Nurseries is an amazing place. The prices are reasonable but it is the variety that is astounding. Despite their size and popularity, there always seemed to be staff members nearby to answer questions or help out. They offer workshops and garden planning services too.
The farmers' markets in the area are a great resource as well, and once they are all open for the summer we'll give an overview of them.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
I suspect the lack of growth on one end of the first raised bed might have to do with a poor blending of our soil mixture more than the fact that it snowed after we planted (that shouldn't matter to seeds!). A lot of the surface seemed to be mainly the peat moss, which of course would be more acidic than we'd want. After pulling the radishes that should have been full grown and were the size of peas, I decided to replant major sections of the first bed.
So anything that was planted mid March and has done little more than grow tiny sprouts got removed. Everything that got replanted got a few scoops of the soil mix we purchased from the delivered bunch, since everything planted in it has thrived. Well, to clarify, I replanted both squares of beets but left one in the old soil mixture, because I wanted proof that the soil was the problem! I also planted a square of carrots to judge how fast they grow, since my original four haven't grown much on top but I'm not sure I want to pull them up and replant yet. I replanted the marigolds (which grew splendidly in the other beds!), Swiss chard (although it might be too late in the season), two squares of gourmet salad greens because the one I had planted is doing well, and two squares of Appalachian greens mix.
The third bed is coming along nicely - a variety of tomatoes have been planted, the cabbages are competing with the peas in the first bed to be the first thing harvested, and I have moved some seedlings (eggplants and peppers) into the ground from their peat pots, after spending a few days hardening them in the outdoors.
The next challenge, besides some things simply not growing, is to figure out how to keep creatures out of the strawberries. The birds keep eating them as they ripen, and I think I can put some netting over them (the tinfoil I tried didn't work). My dog also keeps hopping into the strawberry bed, because he can smell them and sees me bending over and paying attention to the plants. Not much I can do about that.
But I'd love to hear from the common wisdom what the best thing to do to keep birds out of the berries!
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
A future cabbage, starting to look like a cabbage.
A radish, with red starting to peek above the soil. Not everyone in our house (ahem, Nathaniel, ahem) claims to like radishes. I want to try to braise them, which I kept seeing in various cooking blogs. Radishes grow quickly, and I might plant a few more squares of them for kicks.
Indoors, the tomato seedlings have been transferred to larger peat pots, where they have started to grow new leaves. I'm not sure they're getting enough light, still.
I was getting anxious last weekend and planted a few things in little peat pots ahead of their outside planting schedule. The cucumbers have sprouted, although the squashes are still hiding underground.
We're getting close to our last frost date here in zone 7, and we may have ignored that it is still a week away and planted tomatoes outside. We were at a nursery for ground cover to fill in some areas in our front yard and the tomato plants followed us home. I swear!
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Not everything I planted in March is growing very well. I've pulled out romaine transplants and replaced them with an Appalachian greens mix, since the romaine was dead or wilting, but definitely not growing. The peas, on the other hand, are very happily making their way up their stakes. We should see little buds of peas soon!
The strawberries that were planted last weekend made it through the hailstorm and some of the green berries have started to turn red. They won't be perfectly shaped berries since we aren't adding any pesticides, but it looks like we may have strawberries fairly soon!
Last fall, we bought these two raspberry plants with very good intentions, but they never made it into the ground. We are still trying to decide if we want to put them on the fence near the palmetto and herb raised bed, or in a row in front of the blueberries. I'm thinking near the fence, because I have been reading how raspberries hate having their "feet wet," and the middle of the yard can get a bit moist when it rains hard.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Yesterday we had 2.5 cubic yards of planting mix delivered. Wow, that pile looked like a lot of work. Plus we knew we had rain in the forecast for today, so we knew all of it had to be used or at least moved into the back yard by the end of the day. So... we did.
By the end of the day, we had filled Raised Beds 2&3, and planted everything that could go in before the last frost, which I think is April 15 in region 7. We also put planting mix in Raised Bed #4, which we moved from by the patio, a 4 foot square which will house herbs. We still need to figure out what to do with the rose, which we kept in the dirt that the bed left behind, maybe into the front yard. Raised Bed #5 is ready to go too, but is for flowers, and we don't have a plan at all for that one. It is 8x2.
So please welcome to the family, Raised Bed #2 and Raised Bed #3!
Raised Bed #2 has strawberries, onions, and leeks, and will also have cucumbers, corn, potatoes, and beans. We ran out of strawberry plants and put a few bok choy cabbages that we sprouted indoors, so we'll see if they make it.
Raised Bed #3 is temporarily only the home of some extra broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, which we expect to be ready for harvest before the other plants are growing tall enough to block out their sun. Later on, it will be the home of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, and we'll give one big square to a melon, despite the advice given in the Square Foot Gardening books.
Friday, March 26, 2010
I missed blogging last weekend because I was on my way to San Diego, but Nathaniel has been watering and doing other things in my absence. Everything you see sitting around is waiting to go into the two other beds that we will put together this weekend, after our 3 pm Saturday planting mix delivery. We found a mulch company locally that makes the same kind of mix we were making, and thought it would be easier this way.
We've had many more sprouts since the radish sprouts showed their faces on Day 15. The peas have sprouted and will be staked tomorrow (a few already are) because they are growing quickly! The carrots finally are peeking up (they were the last), and a few beets are showing. The marigolds, lettuce, and spinach that we planted from seed are starting to show, and the cauliflower and cabbage is starting to look like a real plant. I replanted the romaine seedlings with the extra sprouts that I held back for that very purpose, as well as one kale and one romaine plant from a six pack.
Nathaniel put together the last raised bed on his own (somehow) while I was gone, and we hope to plant most things tomorrow that we have seeds for. I originally didn't have a plan for the spaces between tomato plants, because I wanted them to have plenty of room. But I think if I time it right, I can put some of the extra cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower plants that are already pretty stable into those squares, and they might be done maturing and ready for eating before the tomato plants block the sun.
This is what my sprouts for tomato, pepper, eggplant, and tomatillo plants look like. The Home & Garden Information Center at Clemson University's Extension Office has some great information on gardening in my region, and I learned that long willowy sprouts are often a result of not enough light. I'll need to find a better solution for that next year, but for this year I might try putting them on the kitchen table under the lamp at night (although this isn't fluorescent, will that matter? I have no idea).