Right in My Own Backyard - Planting Progress

The next few days are supposed to be wicked hot, so I got out early this morning to get some planting done.    Today the humidex is supposed to be 38º, and this is supposed to keep up until at least Thursday.  As I write this, it's already 27º and it's not even noon yet.  So I better do my gardening work in the mornings.  Yesterday I waited 'til evening which was cool enough but man those mosquitoes; they just love me.  Guess that's what I get for being too sweet for my own damned good.  ;-)

We went to Marlin's Orchard on Sunday and picked up a few plants.  Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and cantaloupe.  They were all out of strawberry plants though, so I had to get those at Canadian Tire.  I've already planted cantaloupe and peppers in the square foot plan, and I've got tomato, pepper and cucumber seeds on the go for the topsy turvy planting; these are just backups in case all this experimenting doesn't work out though.  (Yeah I know, not exactly law of attraction thinking)

So, with the help of my Grandson, ( who I call Ziggy - Zig for short) we laid out more bricks, planted a couple of the cucumber plants, and put the strawberry bag together.   I only bought 3 strawberry plants because they were pretty pricey @ 3.99$  a pop, and most of them looked sick.   And was it ever hard to get the plants into the holes; I honestly thought I was going to rip up all the roots!  I had to move my planter boxes to the inside of the gardening area too.  When I left them outside the fence, did I remember that I have a dog who loves to dig?  OF COURSE NOT!  After that I had to get inside before I turned into one giant mosquito bite.

This morning I got the rest of the cucumber plants in and the 2 tomato plants and 3 hills of cantaloupe.  Honestly, I don't get the whole "hill" thing.  What's that all about?  And man - oh - man if you want to start a cantaloupe business, you'd need one heck of a farm for that because those suckers have to be spaced 48 - 72" apart!  I wonder how that's gonna play out in the square foot plan.  :-??

I still have a few seeds to plant in the rest of the open space:  beets, fennel, green and yellow beans, and some potatoes.   I'll plant the beans in succession so as not to have them all come in at once, and  you'll be able to see in the video how it's all coming along.   I apologize in advance for the crappy camera work -  boy am I ever zoom happy;  I'll have to learn to get that under control.

My Grandson helps out
Farmer Zig in repose
Kiti being nosy
Meet Nosy Josie

3 strawberry plants in hanging bag
3 strawberry plants
Strawberry flower - shows better
in the video
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Right in My Own Backyard - The Square Foot Garden is Coming Together

Well I've gotten a few more things done over the last couple of days.  We went to Home Depot and got the fence.  It seems to be sufficient to keep Kiti out, but I don't know yet how much of a deterrent it'll be for the neighbor's cat.  He might just go ahead and jump it.  If that's the case, then other measures will have to be taken.

Yesterday, I did most of the planting in the 4' x 4' section.  The chart shows how I have it laid out so far. The key at the top clearly describes what I have planted, and the multiplier numbers represent how many plants will grow from each square foot.  It seems pretty incredible to me that I can get 9 bean plants or 16 onion plants in one square foot, but that's what they say.   I was supposed to put in some beets, but I couldn't get seeds anywhere. . .well, anywhere I had been anyway.   I have one empty square left though in case I find some.  I changed my mind about the lettuce though.    I was going to start my strawberry planter, but my "kit" turned out to be just a bag.  I knew I had to add my own dirt, but I thought there were seeds included; apparently not.  So now I gotta find some strawberry plants.

So now I've got to figure out how I'm going to plant the rest of it.  The next thing I'm going to do is lay out the bricks around what I've planted so far, and then I guess I'll pretty much do things in "patches"  A potato patch, a green bean patch etc.  My Honey wants me to put in some yellow beans - yuck!  I was going to put the potatoes in the four - by - four, but then I remembered how hard it was to keep the plants contained last year.  They'll need a trellis, so I'll keep them well separated.  I'm still going to add a couple tomato and cucumber plants in case the topsy turvy experiment doesn't work.

Oh, and we got new solar lights.  3 of the 4 globes we had last year were broken, so we replaced them with get this:  a butterfly, a dragonfly and a humming bird.  They do change color, but now the globe looks a little out of place.  Last year when I tried to get pictures of how the light color changes, I got some neat effects, but not what I wanted.  This year, I'll try it on the tripod because apparently, I wasn't steady enough to capture the effect properly.  I'll also try video; that might work out better.

My layout chart is kind of blurry, so here is the key:

B= Beans x 9  BR =  Broccoli x 1  P = Peas x 9  C = Cantaloupe x 1 PE = Peppers x 1  S = Spinach x 1
R = Radishes x 16 PO = Potatoes x 4  L = Letuce x 4  O = Onions x 16 T =  Turnips x 9  BE = Beets x 9
garden layout drawing
The Layout So Far

tomatoes started in boxes
Tomatoes started in boxes
new fencing along north west and south sides of plot
New fencing along north
west and south sides
humming bird solar garden light
Humming bird Solar light

butterfly solar garden light
Butterfly Solar light
dragonfly solar garden light
Dragonfly solar light


Right in My Own Backyard - Square Foot Gardening Setup

Yesterday it was around 23º ☼, so I finished raking over the garden and made a final decision about how much of it I'm going to use for the square foot gardening experiment.  Since I'm kinda breaking the rules ;-), I'm only going to use one 4' x 4' patch for square foot gardening, and the rest I'll do in traditional rows. . .kinda.

my dog Kiti
I got the 4' x 4' mapped out and sectioned of into 16 square feet using tent pegs and kitchen twine.  I have bricks all around the perimeter of the plot, and I'll be using bricks as my dividers throughout.  I wanted to plant some things yesterday too, but I decided to wait until we get the fencing in to keep Miss Kiti from digging it up and burying her bones in there.  I did start some seeds though in the starter kit:  cucumbers, beefsteak tomato, bell pepper, and cherry tomato.  If need be, I'll go Marlin's and get some plants.  The stuff in the starter kit won't be part of the garden plot though; that's all going in the buckets for the upside down planting experiment.  Phew!  that's a lot of experimenting for one garden.

Seeds started for
upside down planting
Just some tent pegs and kitchen string
Just some tent pegs and kitchen string

north end of garden marked in a 4' x 4' square
4' x 4' at the north end

16 1' x 1' squares
16 1' x 1' squares

My Daughter has caught the gardening bug herself and has started working on a small patch in her own backyard.

my daughter works to get the rocks out of her garden
I guess she worked all day
getting the rocks out

leftover rhubarb from the previous owners grows with no help at all
Leftover rhubarb from the previous
owners grows with no help at all

a shot from my daughter's deck
A shot from my Daughter's deck
cedar trees line the back end of my daughter's garden
She has some beautiful cedar trees
at the back end


Right in My Own Backyard - My Figurative Backyard

seed starter kit
Seed Starter Kit
We still haven't really had any planting weather yet. It snowed yesterday, and there's a definite wintry feel to the air. In fact, there is a frost warning in effect for tonight. The temperature is expected to dip down to -2 tonight. So, I bought something to at least get some seeds started. The tomatoes and peppers seem to take quite a while to get going, so I bought this economy seed starter at Canadian Tire for 3 bucks, and I'll get them going in the house.

Water St Approaching Brookdale Av
A little bit off topic but still in my own backyard.  My backyard in relation to where I am in the world that is; not my literal backyard.  A fire broke out in the CIL shed right under the International Bridge.  As far as I know, no one was hurt; thankfully.   I was actually just leaving my Mum's house across town when I saw the smoke.  It was so close and so thick, at first I thought the fire was just a couple of blocks from her.

CIL rooftop on fire
Rooftop Ablaze
Initially, I thought the fire would be put out before it burned to the ground because when I passed by the first time it looked like just the roof was on fire, and the fire trucks were already there.

When I came around a little while later, I was surprised to see how much of it had gone up already.  I guess this shed was used to store everything from old cars to road salt;  there's nothing left of it now.

rubble after cil shed burns at seaway international bridgerubble after cil shed burns at seaway international bridge

rubble after cil shed burns at seaway international bridgerubble after cil shed burns at seaway international bridge


Right in My Own Backyard - Square Foot Gardening and other small space gardening plans

On April 25 we started getting the new and improved plot ready to go.  You can see it's quite a bit bigger than it was last year.   My Honey got it all turned over and I started raking it.  I just have a little more raking to do to get it all even and get the rest of the crud out of it;  Mostly twigs from the tree next door and rocks from who knows where. ( I thought I got all those out last year)  I thought I might have started planting by now, but we've still had some pretty dodgy weather; a lot of rain and even some snow just 2 days after we started turning the soil!  I'm hoping to get something started by this coming weekend.

When I expanded my garden plot last summer, I was going to follow the same basic plan of traditional rows and just add a few more things to the mix, and maybe expand the green bean section.  Well, when I say traditional, I did plant in rows, but I snazzed up the layout a bit by adding bricks.  Both for design and to try and keep the neighbor's cat out; I was unsuccessful with the latter.  Anyway since last summer, I have heard about something called square foot gardening.  I was introduced to this concept when one of my fellow Toastmasters presented a speech on it.  It immediately caught my attention as I had been wondering if I was going to have enough space to do what I wanted to do with my garden.

I found out that row gardens actually waste about 80% of the space allotted to them because of the 3 feet of space needed between each row.  All you do is walk on that.  The idea behind the square foot garden is that you harvest about 5 times what you normally would from row planting; They don't require as much work; you save water; there's very little weeding to do; you don't need pesticides (that's always a good thing); and they are accessible to anyone!  Now, according to the instructions, you're supposed to build a 4' x 4' frame which is then divided into a grid to put your soil in, but since I had already dug my garden to 9' x 24', I'm going to have a modified version in that I will just be dividing it into 4' x 4' sections. 

The other experiment I'm going to work on is upside down gardening using buckets my Honey brought from work.  That will definitely free up a lot of space in the garden plot, as I will be growing my tomatoes, cucumbers and possibly my peppers this way.  Oh yeah and I picked up one of those hanging kits to grow strawberries in from Giant Tiger.

None of what I'm talking about here is really all that new, but it's new to me, and I really can't wait to see what comes of all this.

extended garden plot
This was shot April 25

Can you believe that these are just 2 days later?

Swingin' strawberries.  You can get this kit at Giant Tiger or something similar online

My garden video


Right in My Own Backyard - My Gardening Experience

Okay, this isn't my first time having a vegetable garden, but I am still quite a novice.  Last summer was only the second time I'd tried my hand at gardening.  The first time was about 10 yrs ago, so I really don't know all that much about it.

Funnily enough when I first tried gardening, I went into it fully expecting to hate it.  I am by no means an outdoor person.  I hate the heat, the bugs, and getting dirty.  So what made me think I'd like to garden?  I don't know, but I loved it.  In spite of the heat, the bugs and the dirt, I was actually out there every single day pulling weeds, raking, watering and just standing there admiring the transformation that was taking place.  Maybe it's the creative side of me; the idea of something produced by my own hand that let me put all of that "icky" stuff out of my head and just go for it.

That first garden I had was a community garden in which I grew green beans, cucumbers, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes (which sprung up out of nowhere - I didn't plant them) and I even managed a few ears of corn! The corn, peppers and broccoli were no great success, but we got a meal out of it.  I'll tell you, I never knew what a green bean tasted like until I ate one from my own garden; or any other vegetable for that matter!

garden summer of 2009 cucumbers, blue potatoes, bell peppers, green beans, cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes
So, last summer I decided I wanted to take up gardening again, and I had quite a nice, little space.  It was probably about 8' x 6' in which I planted green beans - my faves - beefsteak and cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and get this: blue potatoes!  I mean blue all the way through; not just the skin.  I'd never heard of anything like that in my life.  I've since found out that there are red potatoes too. Naturally, I'll have to make a patriotic potato salad this summer.  Anyhow, last year's garden turned out quite well.  I was really pleased.  So much so that at the end of the last season I decided to expand my garden to 9' x 24'.  My ideas of what I was going to do with my plot this summer have changed.  I've been doing a little research and I'm going to experiment with some new ideas - well new to me anyway, and good or bad, I'll be posting it here for the world to see.  So, let's see what comes of it.

cherry tomato blossoms
cherry tomatoes new fruit
From blossom to fruit
           Cherry tomato blossoms
cherry tomato starting to ripen
 And here they are beginning to ripen

 My first little harvest

my first bell pepper
blue potato blossom
                      My first bell pepper -                    Blue potato blossom
           they were supposed to   be red,                           
                  but  never quite made it             

Hyssop plant

Lavender plant

habenero plant
 Habañero plant - Supposedly 10 times hotter than jalepeño, but I can't testify to
 that since I don't go for hot stuff
blue potato plant
These little berry - like things grew on the potato plants Apparently, they're toxic
 from what I could find out

garden night shot
 My garden at night

colored solar lights
Trying to show how my solar lights change colour