April 26, 2015

Yep... Still Green

written by Yvonne

Honey and Olive wanted to make sure everyone knows how much they help in all of our gardening endeavors.  They did a good job of making sure these bales of straw didn't blow away.

And yes, you guessed it. We are still (happily) eating spinach and lettuce!  Baskets full!

And there is still plenty more growing!  Actually, after harvesting a good amount of the spinach pictured here, we started pulling up the plants because they've begun to bolt.

This is the other end of the lettuce/spinach bed. Tom tilled it and planted (from left to right) snap peas, Provider bush beans, Maxibell bush beans.  In the background you can see new rows of spinach coming up in bed #3.

The collards, Swiss chard and kale are just about ready to eat.  Next weekend I'll likely make something with the Swiss chard. Upon further inspection, Tom determined that the large plant in the right foreground is a couple of turnips, not collards.  Still good eatin' either way.

Only a few of the peas have come up so far (center).

This volunteer cucumber showed up out of nowhere. It's a little early for cucumbers but if it wants to come up now, fine by us.

Still plucking off the strawberry flowers and it seems to be working because the plants are really growing nicely.

We are a behind in starting summer seeds. We should have started melons, squash, peppers and tomatoes a few weeks ago, but there are only so many hours in a weekend.  Tom filled up the pots I made with dirt and tomorrow I'll get some squash, melons, and pumpkin seed started.

Tom also tilled the garden annex area. Ya know, I think we just like having this as potential so we get it ready every year and think we're going to find just the right thing to make it work. Yes, a few squashes materialized last year, but for the most part, it's been a dud. Well NO MORE! Boy do we have plans for it now!  You may recall we purchased rosemary and two kinds of mint plants in early Spring. This is where they are going to reside and we have high hopes they will 'take' since both are aggressive and hearty. We've managed to keep the plants alive through some really cold weather. Now that the bed is ready, they'll get planted tomorrow.  THEN, we're going to take chicken wire previously used for compost bins and hang it on the outside of the carport.  We'll secure it down at the bottom of this of brick wall with stakes.  Then we'll transplant some jasmine at the back of this bed and let it grow up the chicken wire.  We'll have a nice beautiful natural wall blocking off the ugly carport. It'll make for a much nicer view from the back patio.  We did the same thing several years ago on one end of the front porch and it's worked great.

Whew!  It's finally done! And what a job it was. It took two weekends, many hours, 3 broken tools, and MANY loads of brush wheeled to the front yard for pick up.  But the back fence line has now been completely cleared out. We cleared a third of it together two weekends ago then Tom finished the last 2/3 by himself.

Here's what it looked like before....

and here it is after!



This is before mostly shows the overgrown compost bins. Nonetheless, here is before...

and after!  Doesn't even look like the same yard, does it? Now that it's a nice open, accessible space Tom was able to get to the trees to hang some bee boxes. (Read more about that later this week at www.tsbeeshoney.com.)  Our neighbors told us numerous times over the weekend how great it looked. Guess it was worse than we thought.

April 14, 2015

More Yard Work Than Gardening

written by Yvonne

Believe it or not there are compost bins in this photo. Last time we moved the compost bins, we put up eight bins total. After a while, we realized we weren't using them all so we decided to reduce the number to four.  We removed two bins a while ago and this weekend it was time to take down the other two and move the remaining bins to a new location. At the same time, we planned to clear out the whole back fence line.

First we cleared out the new space where the bins will reside. Next, Tom cut off all the jasmine that had grown in, around, and through the bins - not an easy job at all. The vines had become so intertwined with the wire it was hard to find the beginning of one and the end of another. (Stephanie - if you're still following, here's a good Find Olive photo.)

As Tom unearthed the bins, I went to task cutting the vines off.

My gloves are a bit too big for my hands so they became a hindrance for this detailed job. When I needed to use them again, all I had to do was find Honey and there they were.

With the space cleared out and the wire free of jasmine vines, the bins were set up in their new location. Tom went to work moving the compost shovel-full by shovel-full from the old location to the new. This took a very long time as we had quite a bit of compost 'cooking'.

Here is the area before....

and here is the after!  What a difference, eh?  The compost is now to the right and pushed all the way back to the fence. We cleared about half the fence line and we'll finish up the rest this coming weekend. The plan is to plant bee-friendly flowers and ground cover along the fence and use some of the space for possible bee yard expansion. (For more specifics on this, go to www.tsbeeshoney.com.)

Tom used several buckets to make compost tea which is just compost mixed with water. After these sit for a week, they'll get strained and the nutrient-rich water will be poured over the berries and fig tree.

After a long, tough day in the yard Saturday, we were treated to a relaxing day at a Charlotte Knights game (thanks again Porter). What a great weekend!

April 8, 2015

What Color is Spring? Green!

written by Yvonne

Why do weeds grow so well in winter? I guess the berries grew too, you just can't see them because they are surrounded by weeds. Time to hand pull and ton of junk from the brambles.

Before (left side of bed).


Before (right side of bed).

After. I didn't quite finish this side but it's good for now. Talk about A LOT of work!

Olive and Honey were big help in the yard as always. As I cleared a spot of weeds, Olive would lay in that spot. It warmed up nicely as the day progressed so I took off my socks and continued weeding. As you can see Honey found those socks and brought them to a patch that hadn't been weeded yet. Guess she wanted to ensure that I knew this area still needed to be worked on.

Lettuce still producing very well...

as is spinach.

And again this week collards were harvested - five bags worth...

and four bags of lettuce and spinach.