Right in My Own Backyard – Divide and Conquer

Note:  It took some time to get the video and images processed, so I had to keep this post on ice 'til I got it all done.  Sorry for the delay.

May 26 11h30 a.m. I was just out in the garden getting some planting done but it started to rain.  I got some of what I wanted to accomplish done, but not all.  Still, I got out there about 9h30 and worked for about an hour or so. 

I’m going to update my chart to show what’s in the ground now.  I’m short of some stuff and out of cash, so I’ll have to modify the plan a little.  I had planned for 14 bell pepper plants, but I only bought two because  I was kinda hoping my seedlings would get big enough to pick up the slack, but no go.  I’m still going to use them in the topsy turvy though just to see if anything will happen with them in the new soil I bought for my buckets.   The same goes for my tomato seedlings; they’re too small to go in the ground. 

10h43 p.m. I got in a good solid block of time this afternoon and finished my planting.  After running some errands, the rain stopped and the sun peeked out, so I was able to get back in the garden around  three thirty or four, and I was out there until around eight.  And am I ever sore.  Absolutely everything hurts like crazy; especially my bad ankle.  I can hardly walk right now.   

All that’s left to do now is tidy up the front side.  All the crap I sifted out the plots I just tossed to the front, so I used the garden claw and the fork to turn and loosen it up and I started to rake it over and lay some bricks down at the entry.  I shifted my pepper plants from the front extension of one of the four by four plots and rearranged some of the lights and ornaments.   You’ll be able to see what I’m talking about in the video. 

All of this dividing of the plots and getting the plants and seeds in started on Monday.  Today is Thursday, so it’s been a pretty long process.  I ended up having to redo some of the bricks in one of the four by fours because the measurements were off.  I had 48 inches across the top, but by the time I got to the bottom, it was 50 inches.  I probably should have used a plumb line when I was laying the bricks.  Maybe in the fall when everything is out, I’ll take the time to make sure the measurements are more exact.  Also, most of the bricks are still not level, and I’d like to fix that too. 

To divide the plots into 1’ x 1’ squares, I started off using T tags to hold down garden twine.  I bought 40 tags and 2 rolls of twine.  It turned out that one roll did the whole garden but I ran out of T tags.  I was gonna go get more, but I decided to switch to the tent stakes I used last year, which turned out to be a lot stronger than the T tags.   I thought I’d have to buy more stakes too, but every time I thought I’d have to run back to the dollar store, my Honey miraculously pulled more out his . . . ahem . . . shed.  Winking smile 

So what’s in the ground?  Lots.  Open-mouthed smile  I put in all the plants I bought except for the strawberries because I wanted to put them in buckets, but I don’t know.  I had this bright idea, that if I could get some decent rocks maybe I could do some kind of strawberry rock garden in the front part of the garden.  Not sure if what I have in mind would work well, but it’s just a thought. 

As far as my seeds go, I started all of my carrots and broccoli oh and I put all of my cantaloupe seedlings in even though they were small.  a couple of them didn’t stand the strain and have kicked the bucket so  I added some new seeds in with the seedlings.    The rest I wanted to do in succession so I’ve done half of my yellow and green beans, radishes, beets, spinach and lettuce, and I decided to plant marigolds in all of the front extensions of the four by four plots.It turned out I didn’t have any peas, so I need to get a seed packet of those, and I still need to pick up some onion bulbs and more bell pepper plants. 

I really wanted to have some lavender and I also had a seed packet of Jacob’s ladder, but I guess I needed to start those inside ages ago.  I just don’t have the indoor space for all that inside starting of things.  I read an article about cold frames helping to get an early start on plants, so I might look a little deeper into that option.  I don’t know how Lester’s gonna feel about that though.  He’s been doing some mental planning for some things he wants to do out there too.  We moved the clock from the back end to the front end of the shed.  It looks way better there.  It looked lost at sea on the back end. Though it was nice to have it there while I was working in the garden.  That is it would have been once I got used to the idea of it being there. 

I used a couple of different planting processes.  For the tomatoes I loosely followed what I had seen on Vitality Gardening.  First I moistened the earth where I was going to plant, and after I made my hole, I added a handful of bone meal, then a couple of handfuls of sheep manure.   I soaked the plant before I took it out of the pot, sat it in the hole and covered it with earth.  I did the same thing for the peppers, cucumbers cantaloupe.
What I started doing with the seeds was push some of the earth to one side, put down a layer of sheep manure and then laid in my seeds according to the square foot way.  Lester told me that you can burn plants with too much sheep manure, so I started mixing it into the earth in some of the other squares.   Then in some of the others, I poked the holes and put a little sheep manure in each hole before putting the seeds in.  I just felt that when I initially mixed in my sheep manure with the new earth, that there wasn’t enough of it.  So hopefully I didn’t ruin anything.

Tomato Planting Process making the hole Tomato Planting Process adding some bone meal Tomato Planting Process then a handful of compost
making the hole
adding some bone meal
then a handful of compost

            Tomato Planting Process soaking the plant Tomato Planting Process plant and soil added

soaking the plant
plant and soil added

There’s more bad news to tell you about; this is the worst yet though.  If you remember last year I told you about some birds nesting in the roof of the shed which had me too scared to go near it.  Well, this year they were back, and again I was scared every time I had to go near the shed.  Not only that, they were pooping out the hole and making a mess of the door knob and everything.  My Honey came to my rescue and shoved a rag in the hole.  the birds still had other entries around the roof, so I didn’t worry that much about it, but the next day there were two dead babies on the ground at the back end of the shed.  I felt kinda guilty about that.  The birds were an annoyance, but as a mother, I couldn’t help feeling bad about the distress the mother bird must have felt.

Well that’s it for now; long post, long video, but  I hope you enjoy.


Right in My Own Backyard – The square foot layout

It’s Monday May 16; it’s still raining, and according to the long range forecast, we still have a couple more days of it to look forward to.    I got stuck in as soon as the earth was delivered last Tuesday getting the garden remixed and laid out after a quick run to the garden centre to pick up the sheep manure and bone meal, I got my tunes and I got my coffee and I got to work.   I got  finished none too soon either.  I finished it on Friday (May 13) and my Honey was going to put the fence up on Saturday, but working the overnight shift at work all week had him too tired.  He just got the grass cut, laid out some new grass seed in front of the shed, and the rain soon followed.   I only bought 3 bags of sheep manure and worked the garden in thirds.  I think I probably should have doubled up on the manure though because it seemed like I was spreading it kinda thin.  I think I might buy more and go with my  plan to add it in with each
plant as I put them in the ground; it’s not like it’s so expensive.

I’ll tell you though, getting that plot remixed and laid out was one heck of a work out.  I put in six to eight hours each day and I was hurting in places I didn’t even imagine I was using.  I’ll say this:  I’d better end up with buns of steel for the amount of pain I’ve got in my bum.  Sarcastic smile  I think I did a better job of laying down the bricks this year.   Last year I decided I wasn’t a good planner and just laid bricks down pell mell deciding randomly as I went along where to create a section.  This year I planned the garden all out on paper and I pretty well got the bricks down according to plan.   I think I did a pretty good job of it too.  I think I did a better job of keeping the bricks level too; it’s still not perfect though.  I can see where some are higher than others, but it’s still better than last year.  I probably should have used a level and plumb lines, because what looks straight and even when you’re on your knees, is a horse of a totally different garage when you stand up.  Surprised smile  Oh well like I said, it’s better than last year.  

So, I laid everything out according to the square foot principle, not going more than 4’ x 4’.  I’m still a little nervous about planting according to the square foot principle though.  Last year my square foot section didn’t do so well, and I’m hoping that was just because of the earth.  It was so tight in there even with my endless “fluffing” efforts that when I pulled out my carrots, I was left with the carrot tops in my hand, and the carrots were still in the ground!  But, I guess gardening is sort of an "on the job training" type of deal.   I know I can count on getting some green beans and a few tomatoes out of it, and as for the rest, well . . . I don’t mind experimenting and continuing to learn ‘til I get it right. 

I’m planning to head out to Marlin’s Thursday or Friday to get some plants, and hopefully I’ll be planting on Saturday.   I thought
maybe I’d have more cleaning out to do before planting starts, because I was expecting a ton of those maple seeds from the tree next door  to rain down like last year.   There seemed to be very few of them this year though and not only were there a lot less of them, they look a little different too;  reddish in colour and not as dry looking.  Not only that, they came down in little clusters rather than individually.   Speaking of the tree next door, I guess there’s a robin’s nest in it somewhere because I saw a robin’s egg that appeared to have fallen out of it. 

Since my tomatoes are still so tiny, I have to buy plants to be sure Lester gets his cherry tomatoes.  I’m going to try to get the sweet million variety again since they are sooooooo good; like tomato candy.  As for my seedlings, I’m still going to use those in the hanging tomato planters.  It can’t hurt to try it anyway, and this time I’m going with potting soil for the stuff that hangs.   My Aunt will be coming down, so we’re gonna have a barbecue too and maybe a fire later in the evening.    If she brings my cousin with her, maybe I can enlist her to help me with the planting.  Winking smile

So here’s hoping we get the fence up by Friday because I still have to mark off the square foot sections before planting, and I want to make sure that Kiti isn’t able to get in there by the time I get doing that.  She drove me nuts the whole time I was laying the bricks.  Every time I got a section raked over nice and neat, I’d turn around to find dog prints in it.  I’m not ashamed to say I was wishing for the dog zapper more than once.    Anyhow, the next post should see something growing in the garden. 

Weather update:  We just looked at the weather forecast for the upcoming week and it looks like the rain is here right through the weekend.  Friday through Sunday will be scattered showers, so I might be able to sneak some work in during the sunny breaks.  We’ll see.  Fingers crossed 

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Right in My Own Backyard – More death and destruction

The weather this past week has been up and down, wet and dry, and all kinds of stuff.  On April 28 we had a wicked wind storm that not only meant restrictions for the international bridge, but totalled the willow tree next door.  I kinda flippantly named a previous post “Death and Destruction”, and now in the face of tree decimation, I see that my loss was pretty trivial.   And while I may have wished that tree dead in the midst of hacking off yet another root from my garden, I am sorry to see something like that happen.  It was a really pretty willow, and the way the moon shone through the leaves was a beautiful sight.

I finally got to the landscaper to ask about the earth we want to put in the garden, and from the information I gave her, she says I’ll need five yards which will cost 105$.  Apparently, twenty big bags or the front bucket of a backhoe is what makes up a yard.   She based this estimate on my telling her the garden measurements as well as how deep I needed to go to level it up to the neighbour’s somewhat.  The latter detail was just a guess, and I don’t think I’m that good at it.  I was kinda surprised when she said five yards and when I mentioned it to Lester he seemed just as surprised as me.  We decided that we’ll go ahead and get two yards. 

I think what I’ll do is mix one yard into the garden and then use a technique I saw on Vitality Gardening with the rest.   Vitality Gardening is a show whose host, Colleen Rajotte is basically doing the same as me; documenting her progress growing a vegetable garden except that I have a blog and she has a t.v. show; as well as access to expert guests.  Her guest last week was a chef who grew up in Italy and showed us how he grows tomatoes that can weigh as much as 2.5k!  What he did was make a hole for his plant in which he put leaf rot, a sprinkle of bone meal, and some sheep manure.  Then, he put his plant in and put the black earth in on top and he really packed it down in there.  He said not to be afraid to put your weight behind it to make sure  the plant is packed in tightly. 

Another thing I learned from Vitality Gardening’s Italian friend is that I’ve been starting my seeds all wrong too.  He had used a plastic container that he divided into 3 sections with what looked like cut milk carton, and he really laid the seeds down.   I mean he used a lot of seeds.  He said that the earth needs to be pre moistened before putting the seeds in and after you put more earth on top, you’re supposed to sprinkle the water on with your hand.    Apparently, any other way of watering can disturb the seed placement.  He also covered the container with plastic wrap which he said will lessen the need for watering.  When the seedlings came up, he took each one and gave them their own pot.  It didn’t take long before he had good, strong plants for planting.  I’ll be ready next year.

The seedlings all seem to be okay, but now that I see how much farther advanced my tomatoes should be, I’m a little sad about that.  I also read somewhere that broccoli is hardy enough to be planted in ground temps as low as –2; who knew?  The cantaloupes are springing up and looking good, though in one pot they are all growing along the edge of the pot.  Was I drunk when I planted them?  Or maybe it was a case of the aforementioned seed displacement. 

I did a little gardening for dear MIL today getting all the weeds out of her garden and I feel like I'm ready to go with mine, so with any luck I’ll be laying out the garden by this weekend, and maybe even get a few plants in the ground.  I hope I can find some inexpensive bone meal though.  I saw some at Home Depot and a little bucket was 14$ or something like that.  

Wish me luck!

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