First Year Asparagus

Since deciding we are going to increase the size of our garden, I thought it might be a good idea to do a few perennial beds.

I have strawberries, mint, and now asparagus. In order to know how to plant asparagus, I did a quick Youtube search and I found this video. 

I didn’t really test my soil or add anything to it. Every year, I just get top soil. If I have a problem, then I usually look into doing something about it. Lazy gardening method? Maybe.

I got first year crowns at the end of April (a little late to plant them) but figured I wouldn’t be able to harvest the first year anyway.

IMG_2397

 

I watered the bed daily but it too FOREVER for the sprouts to come up. I actually thought maybe they weren’t going to grow at all. It took about a month. Finally small sprouts started shooting up and then eventually turned into ferns.

IMG_2398I don’t have to do anything at all the first year because they are establishing the root system. Makes one less raised bed to worry about. And since we aren’t planning on going anywhere, we will have asparagus for the next 15-20 years. Pretty cool, huh?

Advertisements

2015 Garden Tour

Good morning everyone! It has been a rainy few days here in PA. Although I loved not watering my garden, the weeds are a bit out of control now.

As mentioned in my last post, I’ve been blogging just not here. I have not lost my interest in gardening at all. Being in the garden is peaceful and I often wonder why I waited so long to even start gardening. I didn’t start until 2012. It *may* have had to do with the fact that I was a teacher. I had no time and I was exhausted.

I was texting a friend last night about report card comments and I don’t miss that at all. In fact, there are very few things I miss about teaching. I only need to spend a short time talking to my teaching friends to remember why I quit.

It’s 7am here and I’ve already went to the gym, went to breakfast with Tony (it’s his last day of school today with kids), took pictures of the garden, and cleaned the kitchen. That’s what happens when you’re not exhausted all the time. You get up early and get stuff done. 🙂

And so, it’s time to blog here for the first time in a while. I’m going to start with a garden tour. Here’s my 2015 garden.

 

 

IMG_2113

In the raised bed above, I have stringless bush beans and Zinnias. In the bed below, I have peppers, tomatoes, sweet olive tomatoes, and cucumbers.

IMG_2102

Then I have potatoes and sunflowers! I planted the potatoes in containers last year, which worked, but it just seemed like more work.

IMG_2107

 

The bed below doesn’t look like much but a bunch of weeds, but that’s where I started my asparagus this year. Part of the bed is also giant zinnias, which I’ll use to create fresh bouquets in the house.

IMG_2105

 

Look! Here’s a close up!

IMG_2099

 

The garden paths:

IMG_2112

 

Zinnias, apple mint, sunflowers, and wildflowers. I also have a strawberry bed, but didn’t take a picture of that or my potting area.

IMG_2108

Below is a sign I made using an old kitchen cabinet door. I spray painted it white and sanded through the top. I then added the vinyl words (I made using my Cricut machine) and sprayed it with a UV protective clear coat.

IMG_2110

Today is Tony’s last day of school with students, which I’m excited for! He will still go two days next week, but after that we have big plans for the garden. I’ll be fun having him home! I always love the summers spent with him.

For the last few months, have been collecting reclaimed wood and old windows. We are expanding the garden & building a greenhouse out of old windows. I’ll blog about that progress too, but the garden should double in size! And I think the greenhouse is going to be amazing!

IMG_1863 copy

IMG_1864 copy

And we can’t forget about the salvaged bricks we found for free to build a path. Cheesecake is trying to eat my flowers here and not interested in the bricks at all.

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 7.31.03 AM

 

 

~Sondra

Garden Update: June 12, 2014

It’s raining. So, what does a gardener do when it rains? She updates her gardening blog. A lot has been happening in the garden, but I haven’t had much energy to update this blog when I’ve been actually gardening. But it’s growing!!

IMG_5636

 

Potatoes, bush beans, tomatoes:

IMG_5627

 

More potatoes and mint:

IMG_5632

 

Potatoes growing in a crate:

IMG_5612

Cutting Gardening in progress-sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos: This picture is a bit blue, but you get the point. 

IMG_5610

 

I’m using watering system this year. If it works this year, I’m going to hide the hoses, but right now I really wanted to just see how it would do. Tony is in charge of watering my garden this week, so I wanted to quick install everything so he had less work.

 

IMG_5617

 

I got them at Walmart at the end of the season. They were originally $20 a pack, but I got them for 75% off and two from my brother-in-law for my birthday. I used 5 packs in the entire garden. I got them to stay by using a tent stake I bent to fit the hose. Each stake was $0.79 at Ace Hardware.

IMG_5621

A few reclaimed accents:

IMG_5633

Another use for an old chicken crate:

IMG_5640

 

I drilled holes in a wash tub and now it’s a planter for sunflowers and cosmos. My apple mint is a bit out of control here, you can’t even see the rusty mower in the back.

IMG_5631

 

My little guy. He HATES coming into the garden because he usually ends up getting sprayed by the hose at some point.

 

IMG_5626

 

And last, but not least the flowers are finally blooming:

IMG_5614

 

 

Hot Potato! Hot Potato!

There is just something about potatoes pulled right from the ground. They really don’t taste like store-bought ones at all. Last year, I mixed store-bought red potatoes with the homegrown (because I didn’t have enough from the garden) and Tony wanted to know “what the heck” was wrong with the ‘other’ potatoes. I told him they were from the store. He then chose to only eat the potatoes from the garden and he’s not a picky eater at all.

Why do I grow my own potatoes? One word: PESTICIDES. I’ve seen one too many Dr. Oz shows on why organic potatoes are the way to go. Growing my own, I KNOW they are organic instead of just some unregulated label they stick on the bag.

But with the cutting garden going in, there is really no room for potatoes in the raised beds. So, just like I did with my strawberries, I’m getting creative here too.

We’ve all seen on Pinterest how you can grow potatoes in a tower, a wire cylinder lined with straw, or even in a laundry basket, right? Seriously though, did you ever try searching “growing potatoes” on Pinterest? Potatoes are easy to grow so I can see why you can grow them just about anywhere.

Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 11.14.32 AM

The problem I have with plastic containers is the chemicals. What is the point of growing them with organic pest control, in organic soil if you’re going to grow them in plastic bins that will bake in the sun? Wouldn’t that lace the soil and then the veggies with chemicals? Not that I’m crazy about this, but it IS one way I can control what I allow into my food.

So, because potatoes will grow just about anywhere I’m going to try to get a bit creative here just like I did with my strawberries. I got bushel baskets from my MIL (for free). She had gotten them from an auction years ago and never used them. She probably has about 20-30 baskets hiding out in her shed.

So here’s what I did. I planted 2 varieties of potatoes.. Red organic potatoes (early season) and regular potato seed.

photo 1 copy

You do have to get actual seed potatoes and the time to buy them is in mid-March to right around now. Eventually stores will not sell them into the summer months because the potatoes will actually bake in the ground if the soil is too hot.

photo 2

 

You then have to cut the potato to separate the sprout. The sprouts will turn into your potato plants. I usually make sure they are about golfball size.

photo 3

 

Here are my potato pieces that will eventually be plants.

photo 4

 

They say you need to treat them with an anti-fungus powder, but I never do and they are always fine. I hope I don’t jinx myself this year though. Here is a started potato bushel basket:

photo 5

 

And the red potatoes are already starting to come up:

photo 1

This is the first spring I’m not teaching, so it’s so rewarding that I got a head start on my garden.  I already have lettuce, strawberries, and potatoes growing and it’s only the start of May! I’m pretty excited about this.

 

Starting more Strawberries: Creative Solution

Strawberry plants come like this in case you didn’t know- they are dormant so it’s okay they aren’t in soil. You can get a pack of them for $7-9. I found them in Mid April at all of my local greenhouses. Strawberries.org is also a very helpful reference for finding the strawberry type you might need.

IMG_4407

 

Just a reminder, there are three basic types of strawberries, June-bearing, Ever-bearing, Day-neutral.

  • June-bearing: produce strawberries in June for about 2-3 weeks. These are great for canning, strawberry pies, and jam because you really get a lot in a short amount of time.
  • Ever-bearing: I call these ‘garden snaking strawberries’ because they produce just enough strawberries all summer long to snack on.
  • Day Neutral: I don’t really ever plant these because the strawberries are small and they really don’t produce as much as the June-bearing.

This year I planted three different varieties. They are all technically June-bearing, but they will produce fruit at different points in the strawberry season:

  • Honeoye: Early-season
  • Allstar: Mid-season
  • Sparkle: Late-season

My thought is that I will have strawberries the entire way through the strawberry season. I might be giving strawberries away!

The problem? I do already have a strawberry raised bed located beside our house, not at the garden but there is no room for additional strawberry plants by the house or in the garden. So, I had to get creative. I’m not quite sure it’s going to work at all… I have no idea.

I made strawberry boxes. I figured you can plant them in planters or plastic hanging bags, why not in a crate? It will have good drainage and full-sun and that’s what strawberries love.

IMG_4458

So, I lined it with a straw blanket (The stores were out of burlap so I had to get creative). The straw blanket is usually used for newly seeded yards to help the grass grow, but I figured it would help the soil drain great. It also has a plastic netting inside so it’ll keep in the dirt.

IMG_4459

IMG_4460

We (by we, I mean Tony) screwed them into the garden fence and added soil: (FYI- the bag was full of rain water too, so it was HEAVY. That’s why the hubs is making such a strenuous face). 

IMG_4462

 

I planted the strawberries. I’m thinking I over crowded the box (the recommendation is 1 plant per square foot or in a row-12-18 inches apart), but I don’t care I’ll just pull them out if they stop producing. If you want the actual planting strawberry suggestion instead of my ‘we will see if this works’ way, you can check out this great Youtube Video: How to Grow Strawberries, but honestly I just don’t have that kind of room. We are planning on extending our garden next year, so maybe then I do it the right way.

photo copy

I’ll keep you posted on how they do!

 

 

 

Peach Tree SOS

I know, I’m blowing up your reader or inbox with gardening posts today.. sorry about that. I promise this is the last post for today. I’ve been taking pictures, gardening, and now I’m finally getting a chance to sit down and record it all. 

Last year at the Mud Sale I bought two peach trees and two dwarf cherry trees. My peach trees are Baby Gold (apparently good for canning) and my cherry trees are Montmorency dwarf trees (sour pie cherries).  I have a problem though, I don’t even know the first thing about caring for trees! I’ve never grown a fruit tree before.

I honestly don’t even know where to start, but here are the pretty blossoms on the tree right now. Can I prune the tree when it is blooming? It seems to be growing straight up.

IMG_4597

 

I do know one sure way to kill a fruit tree is to prune it at the wrong time, so I started with Google and got mixed reviews on when it’s okay to prune. Then I put out an SOS on Twitter, but no one has responded yet.

Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 12.07.14 PM

I’ve found this peach pruning “How to” and that helps, but I’ve already missed some deadlines for things I need to do. This will technically be my second summer (first full summer) with the trees.   I’m pretty sure I can’t prune them right now with blossoms on them, so I’ll probably just wait until next March.

Mistakes I made already with these fruit trees:

  • I planted them in awful soil.. sort of on a hill. How in the world am I going to pick fruit on a hill? 
  • I planted them in the burning heat at the beginning of July. Who the heck does that? It’s a miracle they’re even still alive.
  • They are too close together.
  • I haven’t done anything to them yet besides putting them in the ground.

So, I’ll fertilize and feed my trees now (pray they won’t die), treat them so the bugs don’t get them, and take care of pruning next year??? Unless someone tells me I can do it now. Can I? Does anyone know?

Oh, Blueberry Bushes

I always seem to kill my blueberry bushes. After some research, I’m realizing that the soil seems to be the problem. So this is what I constructed.. ALL BY MYSELF. They are not filled with new soil or feed yet and mulch will go around them so they won’t stand out as much, but they are at least completed. 

IMG_4396

The blue color matches the shed (it’s the same outdoor paint), but my thought here is that I can better control the soil.. I’ll let you know how that works.

Tony came home and there I was with the saw, his drill, and screws I managed to find around his garage. He was pretty impressed…. and a bit scared. He wasn’t sure I knew how to work the saw. How hard could it be?

1. I measured the boxes I needed:

IMG_4385

2.I used wood from my reclaimed wood collection:

IMG_4387

 

3. I cut the boards I needed and screwed them together:

IMG_4390

4. I set them in place before I painted them:

IMG_4391

 

5. Paint:

 

IMG_4395

IMG_4394

 

I finally filled them with soil and am in the process of locating a good blueberry feed. Any ideas? I think just controlling the soil may help. They are not dead yet, but they’re headed there.

 

Mud Sale: April 12th

 

 

 

 

This was a new experience for me, not because I’ve never been to a Mud Sale, but because I went without Tony. My husband usually comes along-he helps me bid (I can be in two places at once), assists me get everything I bought, and loads things into the truck for me. Going alone was a new experience that I was nervous about, but with the husband being out of town it was a perfect distraction.

IMG_4357

If you didn’t catch my last Mud Sale post in 2013, let me tell you a little bit more:

  • It’s organized and run by Amish volunteers to benefit the local fire companies. All the items are donated and the profits go straight to the fire company.
  • It’s an all day event- lasting from 7:00-7:30am- 2-3pm.
  • There are quite a few auctions going on at the same time: 2 separate plant auctions, crafts, antiques, horses, building materials, yard equipment, quilts, and all sorts of other stuff.
  • When I attend a new sale, in order to know where to go I just follow the crowd of people.
  • If you want to get the best deals you have to wait until people get tired and go home. Or go to a mud sale when it’s raining or extremely hot. Mud Sales are being advertised much better now thanks to social media, so I can’t always find the best deal. Usually bad weather keeps people away.
  • You don’t have to carry any of your stuff to the car or truck. The little Amish boys will do all of that for you, I give them a tip.
  • I always bring my own chairs- I set one up at each tent I’m going to be bidding at. The seats they provide fill up quick.

This year I went in search of a few things- perennials, wood crates, and something to hang on my garden fence for decoration.

IMG_4366

They had crates! I only paid $3 each, but at our local craft store they are $12 each.

IMG_4364

 

There a lot of flowers and I did manage to get a good price on some decorative grass.

IMG_4358

IMG_4359

IMG_4360

 

For the garden fence, I bought stars I’m going to paint. Hopefully it looks okay. I had my eye on these cute wood daisies, but they went for almost $20 each (WAY TOO MUCH). So, instead I bought 7 stars for $12. That was more affordable for me.

IMG_4383

 

It was a great day even without Tony there. And I leave you with something you don’t see everyday.. (Don’t worry I took this picture when I was stopped in bumper to bumper traffic).

IMG_4372

 

And this is what the Amish kids do when the sale is just about over- It’s hard to see, but they are all playing volleyball.

IMG_4374

 

 

Creating a Cutting Garden: Part 1

I have always grown vegetables and fruits, but last year after visiting my aunt’s house I decided I wanted a cutting garden. A garden of beautiful flowers that I can cut and put in vases all summer long. I love the look of fresh-cut flowers around the house during the summer days, but I really hate spending the money. So I’ve decided that part of my garden is just going to be for flowers this year. There is a really good list from Real Simple called How to Create a Cutting Garden. You can find the link to the flower list here.

I would just love it if my cutting garden would look similar to this one: Here 

I posted the flowers that I have decided to grow from seed below. I will also have different flowers that I get at a mud sale next month. I’ll post them after I go because I have no idea what I’m going to pick up there.

I started all of my seeds, they’re much bigger now though. I always put a few extra seeds in each hole and then pull out the weaker one when they start to grow. Below I was trying to figure out exactly how many of each flower I wanted. I ended up planting 288 flowers. I also planted strawberries, basil, and gourds. I will buy my vegetables at a local Amish greenhouse because it’s so much cheaper and they are bigger plants to start the season.

photo 4 copy

Annuals: 

Zinnias- (peppermint, state fair mix, envy) I love Zinnias! They are easy to grow, you can cut them and they regrow, and they come in a variety of colors and flower sizes. The ones that I chose are a color speckled in white, red, orange, yellow, and light green.

IMG_4278

African Daisy- I’ve never grown this flower before, but I thought they would be beautiful.

IMG_4275

Cosmos (sensation mixture)- I chose these because they grow high and they can grow well in poor soil. They come in a variety of colors.

IMG_4272

Mexican Sunflowers- I chose this one because I researched them and apparently  one single plant spreads easily. They are also long-stemmed and bright red.

IMG_4276

Sunflower (Autumn Beauty)–  I’m pretty excited about this sunflower too. These sunflowers are yellow, orange, and yellow/red. They do grow 5′-7′ so I would imagine that the flowers would be a perfect focal point in a vase full of flowers.

IMG_4273

Sunflower (Mammoth)- I am added these, although I wish I would have chose more of a branching sunflower so I had more to cut. It’s not too late though, so I might try. If you are starting your own cutting garden, I would suggest a branching sunflower variety. These will get pretty big, but maybe I’ll be able to catch them before they do.

Calendula- 

IMG_4282

Perennials: I don’t know much about some these other than what was on the back of the packet. 🙂

Cone Flower – I know that these flowers can grow pretty much anywhere because they are drought tolerant. They will also produce big, beautiful flowers to fill a vase. This is really one of my favorite flowers.

IMG_4284

Columbine (Peppermint Candy): 

IMG_4280

Blanket Flower: I just love these. They are so pretty!

IMG_4283

Malva: 

IMG_4277

 

I have no idea if these will actually grow, but I’m hoping for a Part 2 or 3 to show you how it turns out. But this is the plan.

 

 

It’s that time of year…

I’m so excited that the weather around here is finally starting to feel like Spring. And Spring means gardening!

I spent both Saturday afternoon and Sunday all day in the garden.  I’ve been very busy! A lot has also happened since the last time I blogged, but I’ll slowly catch you up on all of that. The first new thing you might notice is a puppy in the pictures below. Unfortunately we lost our English Bulldog, Tank in February to lymphoma. We did get a puppy and he’s such a ball of energy and so much fun.

I’m back to blogging (hopefully to stay). Working in the garden this weekend I’ve discovered that a lot needs to be done. I hauled about 10 wheelbarrows of leaves and debris from around the beds. It was a mess. I even needed my husband’s help to remove branches from a previous ice storm. I cannot wait to get some color in these beds!

photo 1 copy

 

While removing the leaves, I also discovered that the shutters need repainted. They look awful!  The rough winter had quite an impact on the paint.

photo 4

 

So I had to first use a putty knife to get all the paint that was peeling off, which took forever.

photo 5 copy

 

And my little helper kept stealing my kneeling mat.

photo 2 copy 2

I’ll sand the shutters down on Tuesday and hopefully get another layer of paint on them to last another few years.

 

I also got a chance to plant lettuce yesterday (although I did not prepare all of the beds yet, I did do 1/2 of one prepared for lettuce). Lettuce is easily planted right now by seeds and does really well in temperatures ranging from about 45F to 65F. Lettuce is usually somewhat frost tolerant, but I may have to cover it if it gets too cold. I prefer the loose-leaf lettuce because you can just take what you need and it grows back.

photo 3

 

I try to keep my garden as pesticide-free as possible and I do love this Miracle-Gro soil (no they do not pay me to say that, although that would be great, wouldn’t it?). I’ll use regular (inexpensive top soil) for the rest of the beds and mix in a few bags of this when I actually fill the beds in a few weeks.

 

photo 2 copy

 

Overall, I’m excited to finally get back in the garden! And it was nice to have the company of this little guy (don’t you just love the dirt on his chin? He eats it.)

photo 1 copy 2