April 19, 2010

A Second Planting for 2010

This weekend we started by spreading the compost from the first two boxes...

among all four boxes.

Once that was done, we made our way to Atlantic Landscaping and picked up two loads of dirt: one Garden Blend and one Garden Blend with Mushroom Compost.  This place has all kinds of soil, compost, and gravel.

We paid for the soil inside a small office, then drove around back where a guy in this little contraption scooped up a load of dirt and....

dumped it into the back of our truck.

We brought it home....

and spread it in the boxes. One truck load of dirt finished up filling one box.

So we got two boxes filled and ready to go.

Tom had taken a Ph reading, using a Christmas gift no less, and determined the soil was somewhat acidic ... interestingly, moreso in the bin with mushroom compost (5.0 in that one, 6.0 in the one without). So he added wood ash we've been saving from our fall/winter fires, and a little bit of muriate of potash.  He got it all mixed in and we were just about ready to plant.

I used this handy, dandy tool that the Mahony's also gave Tom for Christmas to mark off the appropriate amount of space for each bed.  The tool is exactly 12".

We used masking tape to temporarily mark where each set of seeds would be planted.

Then we got busy getting Spring and Summer seeds in the beds.

A good drink of water to encourage the little guys to get moving.

The last things we added to the bed were markers to indicate what we planted, which is as follows:
Bed #4
marigolds, dill, eggplant, thyme, borlloti beans, basil, okra, rosemary, peppers, basil, tomatoes.

Bed #3
squash, parsley, limas, poppies, beets, nasturtium, chard, marigolds, lettuce, cilantro, cucumbers, tomatoes.

Then we topped the two boxes with a hi-tech anti-cat device, a.k.a. fencing, for our the never-ending procession of tomcats in our back yard.

April 12, 2010

Still "Plowing" Ahead

Bad soil.

Well not so much bad soil, as the wrong mix of soil.

That's what we determined the problem is. Using our powers of observation, a little help from our fellow suburban micro gardeners (thank you Bob), and a bit of info from the city compost mill, we determined that the compost we used to plant our seeds is not sufficient to grow vegetables.  It's a good "addition" to the NC clay-like soil, but it doesn't have enough body to support a root system for veggies or flowers.

So Tom called another local place that sells dirt (again, thank you Bob) and found out what we need.  This week we will spread the compost we currently have among the four boxes (see below), then top them with the dirt we'll pick up this week.

In the meantime, we got busy "plowing" ahead with numerous other tasks to keep our forward progress in motion.

I learned how to weed whack.  Not very good at it yet, but Tom sure was excited that I was interested in learning how to use this piece of lawn equipment.  Something about moving on to the sidewalks and driveways?  Don't know what he could mean by that. ??

We worked on our irrigation system. We have one hose running from each rain barrel with a "Y" splitter at the end.
From the "Y" splitter we attached soaker hoses which will go into the boxes (once we have new dirt).  Each rain barrel has this hose configuration so that all four boxes can be watered from the rain barrels.  What will we do when we have a yard full of boxes?  Who knows, but this will work for now.
We bought enough wood to build two more boxes.

This will be it for box building this year.
I was supervising at this point.

Break time is over.... gotta fill the boxes with leaves.
The other project we worked on this weekend was the compost bins. We purchased a roll of 4'x50', hardwire cloth (that's what it's called).  We played around with different configurations.  This one was three big bins.
Tom didn't like that too much - too big.  So we cut the fencing in half and figure-eighted each to create four  smaller bins.  He liked this better because it gives him more bins to play with and it allows the material to build up higher and "cook" faster.
He was a pretty darn happy camper to fill up the first bin with two weeks worth of grass clippings.

Excess leaves from the fall got put into bins 1, 2 & 4, then a drink of water for all.  Bin 3 is left open for more green yard waste to be filled at a later time.


April 9, 2010

Things not going so well

Things at TYs Veggie Garden are not doing so well.  It's been six weeks since the first planting and things haven't progressed. Seeds have broken ground, but that's about it.  By now, we should be seeing some decent plants. Unfortunately all we have are itty-bitty, two-leaf sprouts.

Our first theory is that the beds weren't getting enough water. So we started watering every other day. More water has caused a few more seeds to come through, but clearly nothing to get excited about.

Another theory we have is that the unseasonably hot weather over the last two weeks is stunting the growth of these cold-weather seeds. Maybe the hotter weather is just too much for these guys. As of last night, the temperature has dropped back to normal Spring temperatures so we'll see if this helps.

Another theory is that maybe the compost we bought from the city need some dirt added to it. Next time we'll mix in some other kind of dirt with the compost and see how that works.

And the last theory we have is that maybe we should have stared the seeds inside about a month earlier and transplanted the plants. We weren't really prepared to start seeds indoors this year because by the time we started focusing on the garden, seeds would have needed to be started already and we had boxes to build.

This weekend we'll build one more box and that will be it for box building this year.  We'll also plant some seeds in small pots and see if those do any better. We're scheduled for a a third planting for Spring then on to summer veggies and herbs in May.

A spot of good news... we have an apple tree in our yard.  Only thing we know about it is that the apples are SUPER tart and may only be good for applesauce or cooking. We didn't get around to pruning it in the Fall so it's a bit too tall at the moment.  But we'll do some work on the tree as the apples come in and see if we can do anything productive with the fruit.

Everywhere there is one of these white flowers, we should have an apple.