Sunday, April 25, 2010


From Gardening

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.

Nurseries and Garden Centers in Greenville, SC

From Gardening

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
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

Disappointment, Replanting, Promise, and Pests

From Gardening

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.

From Gardening

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.

From Gardening

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

Pulling Our First Vegetables

Today we pulled the first vegetables from our garden.  I wanted to get it on video for posterity as these vegetables were the first fruits of our labor.  Too bad it didn't quite turn out the way we had hoped it would.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Growing Things

From Gardening

A future cabbage, starting to look like a cabbage.

From Gardening

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.

From Gardening

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.

From Gardening

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

Signs of Life

From Gardening

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!

From Gardening

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!

From Gardening

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.