Discovering New Things, Or At Least Making My Own Mistakes

I was leary as this garden season progressed.  Everything but the weeds seemed to move so slowly, and the lack of nice orderly rows gave me heebie-jeebies galore.  But the garden is coming on strong, and has become something of a delight to behold.  Production has just truly begun, as the carrots now outpace the peas and cilantro – oh, that crazy productive cilantro!  I’ve scattered seeds along the neighboring lot border to allow it to continue in its claim of the land.

New insects appeared this year by the multitudes.  Squash vine borer was the most obvious, and my vines were not covered.  I identified the entry spots on the main pumpkin vine and applied a plaintain weed poultice at every point after snapping off a few of the leaves and vine branches.  Each hole was covered with plaintain poultice.  That was a month ago and I’ve not seen more than a few yellowed leaves at the primary site.  We’ll see if that was a success.

The plantain grows prolifically in my yard, and I’ve been using it on bites, most recently on a bite that had necrosis (yes, brown recluse spiders are resident here).  The bite healed completely.  My thought was ‘why not’ when I considered its use on the plants.

Below is a sampling of the beauty and diversity I’ve discovered in the garden this season.  I’m making this post my last – as I’ve determined it’s simply time.  Time to use my time elsewhere.

Thanks for being along for the ride!  This blog will stay live, but no longer active.

No Longer Dreamin’

Forty Reasons to Change the Garden Plan

Does anyone else go through the angst of which vegetable should go where?

I get caught up in the process of plotting out vegetables that are good neighbors.

Don’t put tomatoes too close to cucumbers, and keep them away from corn.

Cucumbers and tomatoes don’t play well with potatoes, so give them separate space.

If I hadn’t been craving garden fresh tomatoes for two years, I’d consider them bad neighbors and leave them out of the garden entirely.  That’s not happening!

I plotted and planned to make certain everything would have its optimal space.  You know how that saying goes?  Something about “best laid plans”, or “life is what happens when you’re making other plans”?

purple fingerling potato

potato

Potatoes showed up and changed the plans.

I wasn’t even going to plant potatoes this year.  The rear garden, Garden Two, has such a horrific soil issue that I decided to put it to rest this year while I work on building good soil.

garden put to rest

Potatoes would take too much of the remaining garden space, so I figured we would do without them.  Conveniently, one of my primary nearby grocery stores began stocking organic potatoes and that sealed the deal.

Until potatoes showed up.

Forty potato plants.

Forty reasons to change the garden plan.

Just popped right up in Garden One like they owned the place!

Who invited them?  Sheesh!

Yes, yes, I know.

I did this to myself.

It seems I missed a lot of potatoes when I harvested last year.  That must mean that I need a new potato fork, wouldn’t you say?   ;)

So, back to the drawing board I went.  Those beloved tomato plants had lost their space, so new plans were in order.

tomatoes ready to plant

I pulled out three of the metal containers and filled them with sterile soil mix, then placed ollas into them.  They will sit on the patio, which gets almost 8 hours of morning and midday sun, but gets shade from the sweltering late afternoon sun.

metal planters ready for tomatoes

Hopefully, the ollas will help compensate for the heat of the metal containers.  Tomatoes and marigolds and basil will grow in the containers, so I’ve fashioned limb “cages” to see if they’ll support the tomatoes.

metal tub with ollas

This year I’ll also prune the contained tomatoes, to keep the plants at a manageable height.  They can easily reach 6 ft if left untended.  Since I have eight tomato plants, I’m going to risk late blight and plant the remaining five with those surprise potatoes.  We’ll see how that goes.

basil in tub

The cucumbers also have to move, since I’ve been dreaming of fresh cucumber salads.  I staked the tool handle teepee trellis into the water trough planter and will place the cucumbers there.  I’ll lash small limbs across the trellis to provide supports for the vines.

handle teepee trellis

Since the space is now available, I might plant corn.  I have two heirloom varieties, one of which was a host to corn smut two years ago.  I planted the second variety in the rear garden space last year, and it did fairly well considering the horrible growing conditions, but it’s not as sweet a corn as the first.  Perhaps we’ll see if it grows better in the front garden.

Is your garden working according to plans?

Voila, Olla!

A necessary component of gardening – a necessary component of life, in fact – is preparation.

Last year, our area experienced extreme heat and draught and I was not prepared.  Experience is such a great teacher.  This year, I’m trying to plan ahead.

Already, our weather has been warmer than normal, and spring has come early.  We’re just beginning to catch up on the rain deficit, but there’s no telling what moisture we’ll see through the rest of the garden season.

One of the methods I’ve seen is the use of ollas.  Ollas are terra-cotta jugs or receptacles, buried into the gardening area aside the plants and filled with water to deliver it slowly (via the porous material) to the roots of the plants.

There are excellent options to purchase ollas, but I found them cost prohibitive.  I found this great tutorial to make them from clay pots.  I was inspired to make my own.

Homemade Olla

Materials:

  • Clay pots (two per olla)
  • Gorilla glue
  • Plumbers epoxy
  • Silicone caulk
  • Stone/ceramic plugs
  • White exterior paint

Tools:

  • Gloves
  • Caulk Gun
  • Dry cloth
  • Container of water

I dipped one clay pot top into the water container and set it on the dry cloth to dry slightly.

Gorilla glue was spread thinly over the rim of the other clay pot top.  The two pots were placed together, top to top.  This was done with each clay pot pair.

The pot pairs were weighted for an hour while the gorilla glue dried.

Once the glue was dry, the plumbers epoxy was used to adhere the stone pieces to one opening on each pot pair.  The assemblies were left to dry for 24 hours.

Using the caulk gun, I placed a seal of caulk around each stone piece, and then around each glued section.  With my finger covered by the dry cloth, I smoothed the caulk and pressed it into any remaining gaps.  The pots were set out to dry for 24 hours.

All that’s left is to paint the tops of the ollas, which I’ll do when the weather is warm.

I can’t wait to see how well these work.  I’ll keep ya posted.  :)

Dreamin’ Girl