I got all my plants into the raised beds and built the fence and it is working! No varmints have eaten anything inside the fence. Outside the fence it is a different story so I attribute the success to the fence.
I decided to make some videos to show what is growing around here and follow it every few weeks. (I filmed this on my phone so they are vertical because I wasn’t thinking. I will fix it next time if I remember.)
This is the main vegetable bed.
Since I filmed this the pea plants have decided to climb towards the trellis using the guide twine I put down and I’m so proud of them! Yeah, yeah, they’re plants. I’m still proud.
This is the area where I’m failing to grow berries.
In the 7 years that we’ve lived here we’ve tried so many gardens. Every one has had issues. My yard is too shady except in the middle. I have rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and deer. They are stone-cold garden predators. They even managed to eat my tomatoes in pots on my second story deck.
Finally, enough was enough. The husband decided to give up a section in the middle of his beloved grass for raised beds. I decided to use all my hard-won horse-fencing knowledge to keep the critters out. (For a while I toyed with electrifying the fence.)
We started small with just a 4′ by 8′ bed and a 4′ x 4′ bed. If the plants survive the year we may go bigger and put in permanent and more attractive fencing.
The last time I did new raised beds I had piles of aged horse manure. We did not this time. Our compost piles have not broken down well so we had to buy dirt and compost. I put in a soaker hose system in case we ever need to water. Hopefully, it will keep raining here and we won’t need it. Then I topped it all with straw for mulch.
I started out adhering to Square Foot Gardening guidelines. I even had my 12 inch square quilt ruler out for measuring. The back row of the garden is pristine like that. As you get closer to the front it gets more freestyle until chaos reigns in the small bed.
I planted so much stuff that I had to make diagrams. There is a combination of plants and seeds out there. Just yesterday I noticed that some of the peas are sprouting. I’m so proud.
I’ve also started trying to make a food forest in the back. I keep adding berry bushes along the fence line. Some vermin keeps pulling out the strawberry plants. I planted a few varieties of potatoes in piles of straw too. We’ll see how that goes. They are also outside the fence so I don’t know if they will survive.
Updates to come throughout the growing season hopefully!
It just happens to be a compost tumbler just like I wanted. It also happens to be identical to one that went on sale online and had free overnight shipping. What a coincidence!
The SO has fought having a compost tumbler for years. Of course, he fought compost piles at first too until he discovered the joys of fresh dirt. Now he has started a compost pile at the new house. I’m sure he’ll learn to love this fancy device that speeds up composting since we have lots of beds to reclaim and we are in a shady yard that makes getting a pile up to composting heat difficult. When the first compost comes out of this handy gadget in a month instead of six months I’m sure he’ll forgive whoever dumped this ugly thing in his yard. At least now it is hidden from sight behind a shed instead of out in the open like it would have been at the other house.
It is a sad day when passing ruffians can just drop off handy gardening tools in the backyard against the will of the homeowner.
This year is going to be a surprise. We have a heavily landscaped yard with no idea what if anything is going to appear since it hasn’t been tended in several years. With this week of crazy warm temperatures plants are starting to come out of hibernation. I hope it doesn’t snow again. We aren’t officially frost free here until May 15.
Look what showed up in the last few days.
This is a weeping cherry, I believe.
Unknown something-or-others that look really familiar like I had them at my last house and I’m going to feel stupid when I finally realize what they are. They are in several spots.
Sedum!! I’m so excited. This is one of my favorite plants and it is coming up all over. If it wasn’t here I’d have to plant it.
Daffodils of course.
Mountain Fire Pieris. How do I know that? Is it my innate knowledge of all things horticultural? Nope, this one still has the Lowe’s tag on it. I’ve done that too and turns out to be super helpful for the new owners of your house. Thank you.
Privet. Another Lowe’s tag. The only thing I know about privet is that it is the name of the road Harry Potter lived on.
The SO is so very proud of his new grass. There are huge bare spots in the lawn and he’s one of those guys who feels a bit inadequate if his lawn isn’t robust. He spread a lot of seed and the birds were making off with it but now it is sprouting and he is so happy.
Everything is starting to rebloom in my garden. It has been a really weird year here. I don’t remember all of the roses reblooming before but it is nice.
I planted three packets of sunflower seeds. I got one plant. But at least it is a plant with multiple flowers!
My tomatoes have gone insane. I didn’t use all the ones I froze last year so I only planted three plants this year instead of six. I also didn’t plant any cherry tomatoes since they were annoying last year.
This year the tomatoes I planted aren’t doing very well. But, I am overrun with volunteer plants. I’ve probably pulled up at least 50 plants. I was pulling up more today. They just keep appearing and crowding out the other stuff I’ve planted. They are producing lots of tomatoes too! Much better than the planted ones. I also am overrun yet again with cherry tomatoes from the volunteer plants.
Look at these.
These are from a volunteer plant in an area where tomatoes haven’t been planted in 4 years. There have been no volunteers in that bed since then until this year. Where did it come from?
I was sitting here today when the SO came in and said, “I thought you’d be out hoeing?”
I answered, “What are you, my pimp now?”
Apparently he meant that I should have been out planting the flowers I bought this week. Fine.
I already have the veggies in – three tomatoes, two peppers, two eggplants (I only meant to have one), a cantaloupe, bush cucumber, and green beans. I added some lettuce today.
All the perennials are doing well and coming back on schedule but I needed to fill some spaces with annuals. When I started gardening I didn’t understand the point of annuals? Why work to plant something that won’t come back next year? Now I know it is to be able to check out the plant stores in the spring when you are full up of perennials and your boyfriend hasn’t given in on those new beds that you want to put in.
I like daisy-type flowers so I added several. The back bed is done in several orange ones and some white Shasta daisies. Orange and white – University of Tennessee colors. Just adding a plug for SEC schools in this Big 10 stronghold.
I also added some pink ones to the front border now that all the bulbs and phlox are done out there.
I planted 5 tomato plants of different varieties and 5 pepper plants. I learned from last year and put the tomato cages on the plants now instead of waiting and having to wrestle monstrous plants into them later. I started several rows of lettuce and spinach. There are also cucumbers and green beans.
The bed behind the vegetable bed is mostly in the shade. I took the pictures this morning at the only time it gets any sun all day.
This year I added a few ferns. There is a Japanese Painted Fern (not pictured) for color and an Ostrich Fern against the back fence that is supposed to get tall. The hydrangea in the back was planted last year. It bloomed pink and didn’t get very big but it seems to be growing well this year. I planted a white astilbe in the fall of 2008. It didn’t do much last year but it is huge already this year. Originally I wanted three astilbe but I made a mistake when ordering and only got one. Since it is doing so well this year I added two of the same size near it. I’m going for a jungle look in this corner.
This is called a Persian Shield. I don’t know anything about them except that it is a tropical foliage plant that is supposed to get four feet tall. I planted two of these just to see what they end up like.
I’m so proud of my front flower bed. I bought some creeping phlox last fall on sale and planted it. It is Candytuft, a pink and white striped variety. They were just itty bitty little plants all winter but in the last week they exploded! They have more than doubled in size and put out all kinds of flowers.
However, one of the phlox not in the picture is not the same color. It is a dark pink. It makes me start to sing the Sesame Street song, “One of These Things is Not Like the Others” whenever I see it. The irises are transplants from my mother’s house. I’m proud of them for surviving too.
The view in my hallway now.
Our worker guy needed a day off today. I think scraping layers of wallpaper off plaster is going to be the death of him.
Yesterday I got caught in such a perfect storm of marketing and upselling that I had an out of body experience and just watched it all happen to me. Sometimes you just have to step back and marvel when you see a master at work.
I went into Teavana. I’d had samples of tea outside the store before but I’d never gone in. The samples were good but I’m not a hot tea drinker. Iced tea, yes, but hot tea always tastes like dirty hot water to me. But I was killing time so I went in.
There was nice music playing. I’m assuming it is filled with hypnotic subliminal messages telling me to buy stuff since I decided to buy some tea. The employees were busy so I browsed. I picked up a very pretty Japanese teapot from a ceiling high row of glass shelves. It was $80. I put it back. But the shelves started to sway. I calculated over $1000 of teapots on there and prayed it wouldn’t all crash. I found a cool mug with built in tea strainer that was so delicate that I would probably break it on the second use. $40. I decided to get a simple strainer to go in my own mug for $9.95. I walked up to the counter to get tea and that’s when it started.
The saleswoman said that it would get squished the second time I put it the drawer and I’d have to replace it so I might as well buy this tea maker for $17. It was a tea making gadget that is very cool and semi-magical so I agreed even though it only has one use so Alton Brown would not approve.
Then I asked for the tea in the sample pot out front. Turns out that of course it is a blend of two teas. She pulled down two round tins from the wall behind her and used the lids to waft the aromas of the teas to me. She asked if it was my first visit. I said yes even though it put a big bullseye on my forehead. She said that their teas never see daylight or air (poor things) and that is why they are good. So she’d get me some tins to keep my teas in the same austere conditions at home for $7 each. Of course they can’t be combined even though I bought them to blend. I realize now that I have tins at home but they must be pumping drugs through the air to cloud your good sense in addition to subliminal messaging.
She puts three scoops of tea in my tin and weighs it. She then tells me an obscene number. I say that I will never drink that much so she takes some out until we get a lesser but still obscene for me number. Then we repeat with tea two. I get printed out labels to explain how to make my blend.
I must have been starting to wake up because I managed not to buy a measuring spoon or a thermometer for the perfect water temp. I even was able to turn down the sugar that must have been handpicked by the gods because it was $22 a pound.
The tea was really good this morning though.
I made a friend at lunch. I didn’t mean to. I was at a nursery minding my own business when another customer came up and asked if I had kids. That’s one of those questions that shouldn’t be hard but sort of is. It reminded me of people asking me if I was married when I was mid-divorce and I knew that if I said yes then for sure the words “my boyfriend” were going to come out of my mouth soon. Anyway, I said yes to the kid question. She put a stevia plant on my cart and said I had to buy it. (The sucker forehead mark from Teavana must still be visible.)
Then she asked if I had seen brussel sprouts. I said no but just then spotted some. She got all excited and started yelling, “You’re my new best friend! My new best friend! What’s your name, new best friend?”
“Thanks New Best Friend Heather!!”
She went and bought her plants. On the way out she was yelling, “Bye New Best Friend Heather!!!”
I’m at the point of the gardening cycle where “Let’s plant this variety and this variety and this variety…” has morphed into “What am I going to do with all these tomatoes?”
Today I’m oven drying two cookie sheets full and I processed six freezer bags worth of diced tomatoes. I realize that isn’t a huge harvest but that is just the amount of tomatoes I’ve picked in the last few days.
I did try the technique of boiling the tomatoes for a few seconds and then submerging them in ice water to slip the skins off. I hadn’t done it before and I was super happy when it actually worked like it was supposed to. I don’t know why that made it me so happy. I guess I’m easily amused today.
The bees are out in force this weekend. I went to sniff a sunflower (I know they don’t smell but I try anyway) and almost inhaled a bee. I kept trying to get pictures of them working like crazy in the garden but they were moving too fast to focus on. This is their favorite plant.
Can you tell what it is? Broccoli that has gone to flower. The SO wanted four broccoli plants but he’s seemed to have lost interest. I don’t eat broccoli since I’m convinced that it is poisonous. Anything that tastes that bad has to be. So, the bees have a playground.
This is what I got out of the garden today. There are three types of tomatoes (grape, early girl, and the first beefsteak) and the very first pepper of the season. It is a bite-sized type that I hadn’t seen before.
Now I’m being a good girl and not eating the pepper. I’m waiting until the SO comes home in order to cut it in half and share since there is only one. After the first harvest of any species though it is first come first served!
The tomatoes have been coming in drips and drabs. Not enough to make buying canning stuff worthwhile. I think I did too good of a job of making sure I bought varieties that would last all season long. So I’m thinking of making some purees and sauces to freeze. I don’t have much freezer space but I’ll cram it in there somehow.
Check out the new theme! I know most people are probably reading this in a RSS feed but come on over and see the new summery design. If you are on a feed aggregator here’s a summery shot to tide you over.
Guess what this is.
192 identical 4.5 inch half-square triangles. I can’t believe it did it. I’m a scrap quilter. I don’t make identical anything. But this quilt needs it to be identical. Stay tuned to see what they turn out to be…
(That was the planned end of this post. But as I was outside taking a picture of 192 quilt blocks on the pathway, the neighbor showed up to do some work the SO hired him to do. I’ve only met this guy once. He seemed to find it strange that I was taking pictures of weird things in the yard. Oh well, how else am I going to earn the strange neighbor title? In this neighbor I’m afraid that I’m going to have to do something much weirder.)
My first sunflower finally opened. Across the street there are lots of sunflowers and I was having sunflower envy. Now I feel better!
I’ve done all three of my running sessions for week one of the Couch to 5K program. The good news is that I’m not having shin splint problems at all! I’ve been doing the run for 60 seconds and then walk for 90 seconds until you’ve done that 8 times. Now I move onto run 90 seconds and walk 60 seconds. I’ve been feeling really good when I’m running so upping the intensity sort of scares me. I keep thinking that I’m going to be huffing and puffing and miserable! I’ve been forcing myself not to go out and run extra but to stay on the program. Now, really, when have I ever wanted to do extra cardio? That’s got to be a good sign!
We’ve started a new renovation project. We are going to be adding a low stone wall around the porch. Of course since there is a male, non-blogger, non-scrapbooker involved he started the project without doing the most important part of the prep work – the before photo. He said that the before was ugly so he didn’t want a picture. *shaking head*
Here’s as before as it gets:
The garden is going crazy this week.
I have to either go get more stakes or try to cram my runaway tomato plants into cages before they eat the eggplant.
My tomato plants are starting to flower. I guess planting them a few weeks early paid off this year.
I’m not sure what this is. I know I didn’t plant it. It is probably some horribly noxious person-eating weed but it has really cool seeds.
My sunflowers are at that really cool stage where they look like they are doubling in size every day. I love sunflowers and I totally forgot to plant any last year so I’m looking forward to this year’s.
No, those are not weeds. Those are itty bitty baby lettuces that started out as seeds I sprinkled on the ground! Super-micro greens! I’m such a proud plant mama. I’ve never grown any kind of greens before. I just have about a foot long row planted and then I’ll stagger start some other rows.
And if that’s not enough….
Here are some other backyard shots. We have this huge shrub that provides a bit of privacy. I never knew what it was. It is about 12 feet tall. Here’s the answer.
I love lilacs. This bush doesn’t bloom a lot. Mostly near the top of the bush.
Here is the dogwood tree in the corner of the backyard.