Thursday, February 25, 2016

Finally, Finally, Finally

In His final words before succumbing to death on a cross, the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ, said, "It is finished." While the theological ramifications of his statement are huge and obviously have nothing to do with gardening, they echo my attitude when it comes to waiting for winter to loosen its grip. Winter and cold weather are certainly not completely over, but in my humble estimation, it's time to get busy in the garden. The beds have been sitting since fall and are in desperate need of attention. So, for me, it's onion time! I will admit, this will be my first time to plant onions so I am a bit apprehensive and not terribly hopeful for a great outcome. I'll let you know in 100 days or so. In the meantime... here's what's going on. I ordered these onions from Dixondale Farms.  They came in the mail quickly, and as soon as the weather permitted, I put them in the ground, following Dixondale's planting instructions carefully.  They went in on February 18 so they should be ready around June 1.

Onions after being separated, ready to be transplanted.

Onions planted about 1" deep. 80 onions in approx 2'x8' bed.
Onions as they arrived, after removing rubberband from the bunch

The onions have been in the ground a little over 90 days now and have grown quite well for a guy who had never grown them before. One thing I learned for sure: mine are WAY overcrowded! The pic below is from the same vantage point as the day I planted them
 They have began bulbing. Some are golf ball sized now. A few are baseball sized now. Most are somewhere in between. Within a couple of weeks we should know how they did.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Your Garden's Other Best Friend

A few weeks ago, I wrote that compost is your garden's best friend. Well, it's OK to have two best friends. After a very dry late summer and early fall, we received a very welcomed 3.5 inches of rain last week here in NW Tennessee. I water my garden but it seems like there's no real substitute for the real thing.
Thankful for every drop!

Smashing Pumpkins

Tis the season for composters like me love. Leaves are everywhere and so are pumpkins! So far, I've managed to score 6 of them. They are great additions to the compost pile. This happy jack-o-lantern rests on top of my compost pile totally unaware he's about to be massacred by a tall guy wielding a machete.

And after.

The compost pile has never been happier. After repeating this process 6 times and slightly burying the evidence of the scene, my pile is ready to sit for a while, doing its thing. Looking forward to some great fertilizer come spring time. Take advantage of the many lawn decorations in your area people are looking to get rid of... straw bales, pumpkins, corn stalks, or any other organic material your compost pile may benefit from.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Raised Beds My Way

Starting new Beds from the ground up!


Simple framing for raised beds. I'm always looking for the cheapest way to do things... that may be obvious here.

Looking to expand my growing space, I've added approximately 200 sq. feet of raised bed space. They aren't raised bed in the traditional sense because I incorporate the existing soil into each bed. However, they are raised. And they are beds. So far, I've framed the beds with basic landscape timbers from Lowes. Hopefully by spring, all the beds will be two timbers high, or about 6 inches deep. I don't know of anyone else who does raised beds the way I do. Not saying my way is better, but that it's just the way I do it. So this blog will be A WAY, not the way, but it works nonetheless. Caution: this is a lot of work!

I started with the bare bones in the picture above and my first step is to then add lots of organic matter. In this case, I added grass clippings and mowed leaves. In my city, residents are encouraged to  pile their fall leaves and yard waste at the curb where a vacuum truck keeps them cleaned up, and subsequently, out of storm drains. Of course, this is a gold mine for composters and gardeners like me! Today, I picked up this load from a neighbor's curb:
As you can see, the leaves/clippings are finely chopped- this is my favorite compost material and favorite raised bed filler.

In the picture above, I had already began emptying my truck. In the coming weeks, this stuff is everywhere as people pile their leaves roadside for city pickup. Needless to say, I can't get enough of it!
The next step for me is piling the material into the beds. It's piled 4-6 inches deep. I transfer the organic material from the truck to the garden with a 40 gallon trash can. You can use a wheelbarrow or whatever you have. After that, it looks like this:
 Organic material piled into beds, ready for smoothing out.
And the final step, for now, is raking out the material so it is evenly spread throughout the new beds:

Now the hard part... waiting. Today is October 10 and I don't intend to do another thing to this bed until probably March... 5 months from now! I will make sure the bed stays damp, but otherwise it's up to the worms, roley poleys, beetles, and all of mother nature's other magic to break this stuff down into earthy good ness to turn into the existing soil come springtime. I'll also make sure the organic matter and ground under it stay damp to keep the break down process moving along.  

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Compost Pile, about 3 weeks old

Last month I shortly wrote about a HOT COMPOST PILE I built from manure and straw from a friend's cattle farm. Here, the pile is about 3 weeks old and it has been turned twice. Each time it is turned, it heats up to a lesser extent than the time before. When it doesn't heat up anymore after turning it, it's "done." I still like to leave it be for quite a while and let it further break down into a more finished product. Turning it certainly speeds up the process though and I enjoy the work. Added to the new beds I'm working on for next spring, this pile will be a great addition to my soil.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Seven Tops on the way UP

Turnip Greens, about 2 weeks after emerging

Here's an update on my seven top turnip greens, about the only thing left in the garden. The Okra is all gone and just a few purple hulls and green beans left. LAST WEEK I updated their progress and so far so good. My main concern is that I planted them too thick. There are literally thousands of seeds and I simply scattered them on the surface and lightly raked soil over them. Time will tell. They may choke one another out, or maybe the strongest will thrive and kill the others.

Another UPDATE 10/12: All is well in the turnip green world. Greens are lush and thick and about 5-6 inches tall.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Seven Top Turnip Greens

Seven top turnip greens are "turnip-less" turnip greens. They don't grow actual turnips, only the above ground greens. An oxymoron worth growing. After pulling up a very mediocre and small planting of lima beans, I added a layer of finished compost, dampened the soil bed, and scattered thousands of the seven top seeds on top of the ground followed by very lightly raking them over. The result? So far, thousands of tiny emerging seedlings. Looking forward to continued growth.
9/29 Update!
Seven tops are doing well a week later. Cooler weather is on the way too, with lows in the low 40's. Should really help these little guys get going.