Spring Garden Gallery

The back garden plot is finally on its way.  I hope to get the warm weather vegetables into the soil this weekend, as the cool veggies take the lead.

Interspersed with intentional planting are the allowed beneficial weeds:  lambsquarter, shepherd’s purse, henbit, dandelion and goatsbeard.  These serve to feed the pollinators as the vegetation and flora take their sweet time.

The permanent beds are built from a tilled space.  I rake trenched the pathways, then covered them with landscape cloth, old rug scraps and thick straw.  The beds have been lined with materials scavenged from both our yard and the neighboring lots, mostly tree limb scraps.  This keeps the beds from being overly compacted, gives me a clean and weed free path, and allows establishment of perennials.  I’m hoping that the trenched paths will also provide deep irrigation for the beds, as we’re likely to be in drought conditions again.

Edit:  The photos below have descriptions, which are best viewed in full format.  Simply click on a photo to activate the gallery.

I’ll post the front garden next…


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


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?

Water Trough Planter

Several of my garden pictures include the water trough planter.  What you might not have noticed about this trough is that it’s a self-watering container/wicking bed on steroids.

I got the idea here (NOTE:  the link is now broken, from Mary Jane’s Farm Magazine, Aug-Oct 2009 issue, Makin’ Hay), and made it work with materials that I could access.

The mesh was actually gutter screens that were left over from the new roof we had put on last year.

This mesh was used as the support for the dirt, held up over the water reservoir by the perforated PVC pipe shown in the instruction link.

Holes were cut into the mesh for the four higher sections of PVC that were used to hold the wicking soil.

A double layer of landscape cloth and fiberglas screen were used to keep the soil on top of the mesh support.

Notice the PVC pipe in the left part of the trough?  That’s the water fill tube.  Just like the self-watering container, this trough has a water reservoir, soil support, wicking soil to pull the water up to the plant roots, a water fill tube, and a drain hole.  These are the necessary components for a self-water container or wicking bed.

The planter contains the strawberries seen below, and was a great garden bed for the sweet potatoes, dill, lettuce, spinach and strawberries during last summer.

strawberry plants

I highly recommend this water trough planter.  It fared quite well during a summer draught that was highlighted by the longest stretch of high temperatures we’d seen in a long while.  I was able to fill the reservoir once every two weeks and the plants thrived.

No water has been added since the end of summer, aside from the rain water naturally collected in the trough.  The strawberries are the new growth this year.  Lettuce is also growing from the plants I allowed to bolt for seed.

Once the budget allows, I plan to put two more of these planters in use.

Til later…

Dreamin’ Girl