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Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’

Meera, left, and Rajah.

Meera, left, and Rajah.

These two adorable creatures were the inspiration for adding more growing space to our garden. As you can probably imagine, having two cats means we go through quite a bit of cat litter.

When the containers were empty, they started to pile up in our laundry room. We planned to recycle them but kept forgetting to take them out. Now I’m glad we were so forgetful. These have come in pretty hand and allowed us to plant even more.

To start, we washed out each container and drilled a bunch of holes in the bottom. Then we filled it about 2/3 of the way with shredded leaves (which we never have a shortage of each year) and added topsoil and compost to each. The leaves help use less dirt and compact a bit to help provide some extra drainage.

They're not pretty, but they work.

They’re not pretty, but they work.

I admit, the bright yellow is tacky and next year I plan to paint them a more neutral color. They’re perfect for plants that need more space or a deep area to grow. We have tomato plants in two of them, squash and zucchini in two more, and two pepper plants in others. Another added benefit is you can move the plants around based on sun or shade needs.

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This is a great idea. I might try this when we plant some of our smaller seeds. Thanks to the Looking Out From My Backyard blog for the tip!

lookingoutfrommybackyard

We recently returned from a nice getaway to sunny Arizona. Not that our Colorado winter had been too bad this year, but there is something about walking through the department store in February in Arizona and seeing beautiful petunias and marigolds on the shelves. Got my spring fever in high gear! I spent a good portion of the 14 hour drive with my nose shoved firmly into a stack of seed catalogs.

Anyone who has ever planted a carrot seed or a petunia seed, for example, will testify that these seeds are TINY! More than once, I have taken a tweezer and carefully picked up the seed to place into a waiting peat pot. At my age, you need bright light for that!

Since I use block planting in my raised beds, I saw a post that should just make my “tiny seed planting” a bit easier! It is a…

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Here it is, our grand garden plan. It’s ambitious, but I’m optimistic about it.

We’re trying something new this year, both with vegetables and planning. Last year everything worked fairly well, and we stuck to the plan — for the most part. This year, we’re adding carrots, which is something we’ve never tried before. And we’re going to try again with Brussels sprouts, broccoli and kale because none worked particularly well.

The broccoli bolted pretty early, the Brussels sprouts never really grew and the kale was knocked over and destroyed by squirrels. We’re also going to try to follow the square-foot gardening method a little more closely. We sort of tried it last year, but not exactly.

Our garden plan for this year. It's a mix of square-foot gardening and succession planting, plus some container plants.

Our garden plan for this year. It’s a mix of square-foot gardening and succession planting, plus some container plants.

I’ve also splurged ($25 for a year) on the garden planner tool from Mother Earth News. In the little bit I’ve played around with it, the tools are really great, and it’s what I used to create the picture above. Some are harder to see, so I’ll explain what’s in each bed.

It looks very crowded because I have “all months” showing, but there is some succession planting going on here — the peas will be gone before the tomatoes need the room; the garlic will be pulled before the zucchini needs room to spread, etc.

We’re also going to use our “alternative pots,” which are basically old coffee containers and big buckets that used to contain cat litter. Everything will be washed and have holes drilled in the bottom for drainage.

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I wrote this in November and forgot to post it. But instead of re-writing it, I’ve decided to put it on the blog anyway. We haven’t been keeping up with the in-bed composting as often as we planned, mostly because we haven’t been collecting kitchen scraps and our stash of leaves is soaked from the snow. 

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A couple weeks ago we did some major fall clean up in the garden. It’s always sad to rip everything out, but what wasn’t diseased was cut up and tossed into the compost bin.

We were able to save some of the herbs and preserve them for the winter (more on that later). As I mentioned in other posts, we have lots of beautiful trees on our street. In past years, we’ve shredded them and added the leaves to our garden beds to decompose over the winter. But I recently learned many of the pests that plague our garden – most notably the cucumber beetle – overwinter in leaf debris, so we’re switching it up.

I know it will be impossible to keep all the leaves out of the garden, but I don’t want big piles on each bed, so we’re trying in-bed composting. The basic concept is digging a big hole and adding your green material (plant debris, vegetable scraps, etc.) and brown material (dried leaves, shredded paper, etc.) and burying it. The idea is it will breakdown over the winter and add nutrients directly to the beds.

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I just saw this chart on The Ungardener blog. It’s a wonderful tool to help identify possible problems with your plants. Will definitely keep this on hand for next season.

The Ungardener

nutrient garden problems

I just LOVE little action packed charts like this one!  Thanks to www.thefreerangelife.com for this great chart of Nutrient Deficiencies in the Garden.  I will be paying close attention to it both in my red clay Virginia and rocky mountain Pennsylvania yards.

Cheers,

The UNgardener

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Our lettuce looked promising when we transplanted it.

Our lettuce looked promising when we transplanted it, but it hasn’t grown much bigger than this.

As some of our space cleared from summer vegetables that stopped producing or died, we were really excited to plant our fall garden. Peas could go where the cucumber was, lettuce could take over the first bed, Brussels sprouts and broccoli could fill in wherever they’d fit. It was a great plan, or so we thought.

We should have known that when multiple sowings of lettuce, spinach and broccoli seed never sprouted that it was probably a bad sign. I assumed we hadn’t watered them enough, the seeds were bad, something. So we decided to try to start everything in pots and transplant where needed later.

This part worked wonderfully. We had lots of baby lettuce and almost a dozen Brussels sprouts plants.

The peas we planted in place started to sprout and grow. It looked promising.

But looking promising and being productive are two different things, and our fall garden excitement quickly turned to disappointment.

The lettuce transplants look great, but they aren’t any bigger than the day we put them in the raised beds. All the Brussels sprouts either wilted or had their leaves chewed by something. And the kale we tried to grow in a pot? Knocked over and spilled everywhere –probably as a result of the squirrels trying to bury acorns wherever they can.

While it was unfortunate we couldn’t keep the harvest going into the cooler months, we’ll try again next year. And we hope, with a little more planning, we’ll have a fantastic fall garden.

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Probably the last vegetables we'll get from the garden this year.

Probably the last vegetables we’ll get from the garden this year.

As the weather gets colder, our plants are on their way out. It’s a bit odd because there are new eggplant flowers and pepper flowers, but they won’t have enough time to mature. We have a few more grape tomatoes that might be ready before it gets too cold, but pretty much everything else is done. We tried to plant some fall vegetables, but that plan seems to have failed. More on that later.

Overall, it was a pretty successful year. Not the best, but it was way better than what we had last year, or even the year before. I’ll recap everything in later posts, plus share some more recipes we made when all our vegetables were thriving.

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