Posts Tagged ‘vegetable growing’

July 10, 2013...Spring veggies harvested, soil spaded and leveled, drip watering in place, this bed is ready to plant our winter garden.

July 7, 2013…Spring veggies harvested, soil spaded and leveled, drip watering in place, this bed is ready to plant our winter garden.

When we planted  turnips, lettuce and kale in July for our winter garden little did we know we were planting for the bees as well as ourselves.

July 28, 2013...turnips are growing nicely in the center, lettuce and kale are on the sides.

July 28, 2013…turnips are growing nicely in the center, lettuce and kale are on the sides. Deer netting over pvc hoops.

January 16, 2014...We had eaten most of the turnips and just left a few to go to seed.  We never thought the bees would be enjoying them in mid January.  What a welcome surprise.

January 16, 2014…We had eaten most of the turnips and just left a few to go to seed. We never thought the bees would be enjoying them in mid January. What a welcome surprise.

February 9, 2014...My apologies for posting such a fuzzy picture of a bee on the catkins,but it was rather high up.  I wanted to show where the pollen was coming from that is going into my log hive.

February 9, 2014…My apologies for posting such a fuzzy picture of a bee on the catkins,but it was rather high up. I wanted to show where the pollen was coming from that is going into my log hive.

February 9, 2014...Many colors of pollen entering the hive.  In the video you can see the bright yellow from the turnip flowers.  It's possible this is from the pussy willows that are just starting to blossom

February 9, 2014…Many colors of pollen can be seen entering the hive. In the video you can see the bright yellow pollen from turnip flowers. It’s possible this shot is from the pussy willows that are just starting to blossom.  The darker orange might be from early gorse.

February 10, 2014...Yellow turnip flowers have been flowering since mid January.  Pussy willows are starting to blossom already.

February 10, 2014…Yellow turnip flowers have been flowering since mid January. Pussy willows are starting to blossom already.  Second bed is producing greens for our salads.  We can eat them 15 minutes after they are picked…can’t get much fresher than that.  We cover them with plastic film (partially visible on far side) on nights of sub freezing temps.

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This is how the garden looked in August 1998.  All those beautiful raised beds are rotting into the ground after 15 years and need to be replaced.

This is how the garden looked in August 1997. All those beautiful raised beds are now rotting into the ground after 16 years and need to be replaced.

Trex-built raised bed 5-5-13

Trex-built raised bed 5-5-13  Don’t look at the background…it’s messy.  I’m linear.  I can only work on one bed at a time!

We built most of our raised beds in 1996 and ’97.  The lumber came from a small sawmill using white cedar that had been passed over by the big timber companies.  It was sawn to a full 2 x 10 x 16′ (5.08 cm x 25.4 cm x 4.87 m)  It was beautiful wood.  We had less personal time then but more energy…lots more.  As good as that wood was, it still rots when in contact with the soil.  So after 17 years all those 16 beds have got to be replaced.  We found this decking material on close-out.  It’s not cheap but is supposed to outlast wood.  It’s a little wobbly so I had to set the corners in concrete, but if it outlasts wood, it’ll be worth it.  We’re trying to replace ONE raised bed a year now.  The green one was built last year out of old siding…much cheaper than this one, but won’t last as long.

Soil leveled, drip water grid laid out, tires centered over drip holes in pvc.

Soil leveled, drip water grid laid out, tires centered over drip holes. The tires extend the warm temps into the cool evening.

Hoops added with 1x2x8 re-enforcement.

Hoops added with 1 x2x 8 re-enforcement.  I use this to hold the tent open  too.

Don't glue any of the pvc like I did for many years.  That way you can have more options like this swing-away hose connection

Don’t glue any of the pvc like I did for many years. That way you can have more options like this swing-away hose connection

Clear plastic over hoops, held up rope and the re-enforcement wood.

Clear plastic over hoops, held up by rope and the re-enforcement wood.  Why have ‘tents?’  Our night time temperatures will dip to 45 deg. F (7 deg. c)  even in the middle of summer.  Use 6 mil UV stable greenhouse film. It’ll last for years of opening and closing every day.  We like our tomatoes to be warm and happy.

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Myy new raised bed made from scrap siding.

My new raised bed made from scrap siding.

After watching a video about extended season gardening about 15 years ago,  my wife and I decided to try it out.  We had to make a few adjustments to keep the tents from blowing down in the wind.  By strapping 1.25″ pvc to the inside of the wood we can adjust the height of the hoops…one year we’ll have short hoops for greens, the next year we’ll have tall hoops for tomatoes.

Those raised beds served us well, but are starting to rot.  When we replaced some partially rotten wood siding on the house, I decided to use it as a replacement raised bed.  I sawed out the rotten areas and just cobbled these together to get a 4′ x 16′ x 14″ tall bed.  (1.22 m x 4.87 m x 35 cm)  I painted this time with some left over house paint, hoping it will protect the wood for another 15 years.

I added two drip watering grids by using 8′ (2,44 m) pieces of pvc.  The joints do not have to be glued because with all the holes drilled in them, they won’t leak.   I drilled the holes about 6″ apart (15 cm) on each side and then plant where the water comes through.

Companion planting  (Look at the comfrey site too)

We’ve had trouble with growing carrots in the past.  Sometimes they fail to germinate.  If we get them to grow early in the season, the slugs get them.  So we wait until July or August, but then we get a carrot maggot, those little worms that tunnel into the carrots.  So in an effort to grow great carrots AND avoid the tunneling worms we found leeks to be a good companion plant to carrots.  They repel the carrot fly.

Drip water grid.  By not gluing the joints, I can use the same hose to grid connection, by slipping it off one grid, and onto the other.

Drip water grid. By not gluing the joints, I can use the same garden hose to water grid connection, by slipping it off one grid, and onto the other.  Also I can ‘mix and match’ the pvc to fit longer or shorter beds the following years.

Carrots and leeks growing well

Carrots and leeks growing well

3/4 inch pvc hoop slips easily into socket (Looks like I didn't paint it very well)

3/4 inch pvc hoop slips easily into socket (Looks like I didn’t paint it very well)

Deer love carrot tops, so to avoid building a 10' (3 m) fence all around the garden, we opt to net everything.  I've tried twine, wire, and now fishing line

Deer love carrot tops, so to avoid a high fence all around the garden, we opt to net everything. I’ve tried twine, wire, and now fishing line to tie the netting to some pvc.  It’s a very tedious job, but once it’s done, little effort is needed to flip the netting off.  Just remember to flip it back or the deer will enjoy.

By placing the plastic, I can decide to protect against the raging storms, or to let a gentle rain soak the soil

By placing the plastic, I can decide to protect against the raging storms, or to let a gentle rain soak the soil.  In winter, I keep the plastic on to protect them in frost or the occasional snow.

Healthy carrots and leeks

The reward are healthy carrots free of little black worms and leeks for the winter dishes.

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Get out the Solar Oven and let’s have enchiladas for lunch.

Enchiladas for lunch.

Now that the sun has warmed up the soil enough to plant, we’ve got to hook up the Solar Roller. These panels are mounted on a 2 x 4″

Solar panels on handmade wheeled cart

cart with some old lawnmower wheels attached. Since I have many trees shading parts of the garden, this roller allows me to follow the sun. I can actually get 12 hours of sun-pumping water into the large tank in the background and then gravity flow to 1/2″ pvc placed in the raised beds. The kit came with solar panels, submersible pump, and a Dankoff control box. This control box allows the pump to kick on in low light and works so well that it’ll pump on a gray shadowless day. I’ve even seen it pump during a light rain.

Gray shadowless day, solar pump still working…thank you Mr. Dankoff, for inventing the controller that makes the pump work on a very gray day!

The tank feeds into a regular garden hose and into the water grids. The grids are drilled with 1/16” holes. Hook up the hose to the grid and plant next to the holes.

Drip water grid in tomato bed

Drip watering potatoes

Placing the plants next to a pre-drilled hole.

Ready to close the tent on the warm loving eggplant and peppers

And that’s how we spent Mother’s Day, how about you?

For more solar check out my little solar system.

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It’s always fun for us to uncover the very soggy cardboard and see all the earth worms.  In years past we would rototill, but now because we trench in leaves, crab shell, coffee grounds and sometimes  kitchen garbage in the fall,  our beds are teeming with life.  We don’t want to chop up the worms with a tiller so we do a little spading to loosen the soil and push in the transplants.  Many times the ground is too wet for a tiller, but not for a shovel or fork. l

Our Red Pontiacs from last year were getting soft so we decided to use them as seed potatoes. With the raised beds we can plant earlier and cover up the beds if the weather report warns for freezing.  We can also net to keep out the deer or in this case, the cats.  Check out the progress on these beds.

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