May 21, 2013

A Little Hay Surely Works Wonders

written by Yvonne

We are SO excited to discover veggies will grow on either side of our driveway - it's now our garden annex!  Look, look!  The beans we planted from seeds are growing!

The day after I took these pictures, there was a really good rain followed by strong sun and these grew even more.

And the melons we started in pots are doing well here too; although the melons planted direct from seed are not. We'll throw some more melon seeds in the ground this weekend and try again.

The volunteer melons/squash/cucumbers/whatever are holding on strong along the driveway as well.

The raspberries are coming in. Even though the bushes have taken off and are spreading down the fence line (just as we'd hoped), there aren't as many berries per cane as there are....

on the black berry plants which have TONS of berries per cane. Being novices at the berry thing, we really weren't sure if we'd get more this year of if we'd killed them or what. Tom pruned most of them but not others. We couldn't be more thrilled to have these come in again. I gotta tell ya, of all the things we plant and eat, and of all my favorite things we grow in out garden, having berries is probably my favorite. Much of that has to do with the fact that you plant them and don't have to do anything else to them and they produce. And the other thing that's great is they are filling in a space in our yard that had weeds and odd growth which makes me like them even better.

Pre-weed wacking Down Dog by Tom.

It's finally time to harvest some lettuce! None too soon either because we started a lifestyle change about four weeks ago which includes eating a VERY large salad as part of our dinner every night. To date, Tom has lost 13 lbs and I've lost 17.  (There have been other changes too, least you think that by just adding a big salad at dinner gave us these results.)

This set of tomatoes is doing well, but not as good as the transplants Tom moved a week prior. It looks like there's hay around them, but it's not enough.

So I hayed it up and really packed the tomatoes in.

Tom harvested beet greens a week ago and they were delicious! and what was left doubled in size in about two days time (left). I started to put hay around the carrots (center) but they're just too small to distinguish from the grass. We'll have to do some weeding in order to get to the carrots. The spinach (right) got a second harvest this weekend.

Cucumbers aren't taking off by any means, but they are still growing. Once Mother Nature is done with this gorgeous, but chilly, spring weather, they will likely take off.

This bed of kale, chard and broccoli was all started in pots. Now that they've grown some, it's time to get the hay around them.

And here's the same kale, chard, broccoli bed with the hay added.  And just as the beans doubled up in size after a bout of rain and sun, these grew too.

Got a good harvest done on the collards.

The peas are doing well...

and are flowering. The peas seem to be hiding from me, but Tom finds them just fine. Every time I want to pick a few, I can't find any. Tom finds a hand full every time he goes out. Gotta start looking a litter harder I guess.

Figgy is coming back after the winter. Maybe we'll get him planted in the ground this year.

Today's harvest, from left to right: Breakfast (spinach), lettuce (lunch), and dinner (collards).

If you'll recall, several weeks ago, Tom disbanded the worm composting. He put all the worms and the casting from the worm box directly into the beds. We still compost all our food and lawn scraps, but just in binds rather than worms. It's a lot less work to dump everything into the compost bins and with Tom's time being used on tending the bees, he just couldn't keep up with the worms anymore.

He moved the worm box up close to the house and we're now using it for herbs. He got a load of dirt and filled it up, then I got some seeds started. The parsley you see in the middle was started in bed #4. At the time I started those seeds, we didn't know we'd have a new, separate space for herbs. So once we got the herb box ready, I transplanted the parsley seedlings.

I made a map of what I planted where so I'd know what's what once they come up.

All in all, a good days work in TYs Veggie Patch!

May 8, 2013

Hurry! Get Everything in Before the Rain!

written by Yvonne

It's time to get some major Spring work done in the garden. The seedlings are ready to be planted and the rest of the winter garden is ready to harvest and pull up.  Here goes...

The spinach that's been growing all winter is ready to be harvested and removed to make space for a new crop.

Tom got right to work on it.  We've been eating/drinking smoothies made with spinach just about every morning for two weeks now and STILL haven't run out of spinach yet.  You want a DELICIOUS and nutritious recipe? See below:

Super Yummy and Healthy Breakfast Smoothies
Serves 2

2 cups frozen blueberries
1 banana
2 TBSP unsweetened coca
1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk
1 TBSP flaxseed
5 oz spinach
4 dates
1/2 to 3/4 cup water
6 or so ice cubes

Put ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  It's thick and it looks kind of like mud but it's super tasty.

One item needing to be done in the garden was to place hay around everything that's come up. Here are the beets before adding hay...

and here they are after. The bed to the right has carrots and a lot of grass. The carrots aren't big enough yet to distinguish from the grass yet so we'll have to wait to add the hay.

This is the 2nd round of spinach before adding hay...

and here it is after. One reason we pulled up larger bed of spinach was because we successfully succession planted and knew that this new crop of spinach would be ready soon.

Here are the peas before staking and adding hay...

and here they are after.

We needed to remove hay from a few area where we previously put it down because the seedling are just too small to plant among the hay. We discovered this when we saw that a few broccoli and kale plants got swallowed up by the hay.  So we either need to remove it altogether or make much bigger spaces to plant the seedlings.

Several cucumber seedlings are down now (yeah!). I think the cages will keep the hay back so the plants don't get swallowed up.

Here is a before picture of one half of bed #1.  We'd covered it with hay weeks ago but decided we needed to move it to plant the tomatoes.

Here it is after the tomatoes and growing spirals were put into place.  Once the tomato plants get bigger, the hay will go back on to nourish the soil and keep it moist.

This bed now has new kale, broccoli and chard.

Our second round of collards is coming along just fine.

The lettuce patch is picking up as well.  We found two volunteer squash (or melon) plants in amongst the lettuce.  We pull the two of them out and put them, and the squash and melon seedlings we'd started and....

planted them in the side yard. We officially have run out of space in our four raised boxes and now need to take over some additional areas of the yard.  Two years ago, we tilled up all the grass on this side of the house so it would be ready for planting some day.  No time like the present!  We'd tried sweet potatoes here and they only sort of didn't work. On the one hand, they rooted and the vines grew like crazy. However, the tubers didn't get very big at all.  We suspect it's because the dirt here is heavy Carolina clay so we think it was too dense for the tuber to grow.  Our new theory is that since the roots did indeed grow so we should be able to grow in this area - just maybe not tubers.

Therefore, we took the melon seedlings, some melon seeds, and the mystery plants that were growing in the lettuce patch and planted them here.

Then to the left of the berry bushes, we planted the squash seedlings.

Because we'd run out of room in the raised beds (one of those good problems to have), we also realized we didn't have a SINGLE bean plant started!  Yikes!  Must fix that problem right away!  We dug a small row along this patch on the side of the house and threw down two seeds each of four varieties of beans.  By this time in the day, it had already started raining and we were both tired.  As much as I want things to grow, part of me didn't think these beans would actually take root so I didn't give much thought to how close they were or their spacing or anything.  Now, a week later?  They are actually sprouting and I'm thinking "Geez, if these really take off, I hope they aren't too close together or block us out of using the driveway."  Again, another good problem to have, I suspect.

The berries are REALLY filling in this part of the side yard, which is exactly what we wanted.

We even have some blooms going on which means berries aren't too far behind!!!!!

After doing all this work on Saturday (actually a week ago this past Saturday), it rained constantly from Saturday night through Monday.  A nice, steady, light rain with one or two periods of down pour.  We couldn't have planned it better if we tried.  Seems like we might know what we're doing finally, eh?