Thursday, March 31, 2011

Inexpensive Garden Structures

When I'm looking for ideas to solve garden problems, I make a trip to The Natural Gardner in Austin after spending some time seeing what's available on the Net. 

I've been wanting to find a way to shade some of the veggies and really liked this structure which consists of U-posts, bamboo, and twine.   I have some old T-posts which should do just fine and the most expensive item is the shade cloth.  Our winters are pretty mild and can easily see how this can be converted into a winter greenhouse with a different covering. 

I took a lot of pictures so there would be no questions when constructing it.  I've already started collecting materials for this project which will be done in the little garden. 

U-post and bamboo supports are in the middle.

The bamboo vertical supports go all the way to the ground.

This hoop house is constructed with rebar stakes and pvc pipe and ready for a shade cloth.  I found 2' pre-cut rebar stakes at The Home Depot. 

This is a little different hoop house with the pvc joint dry fitted so it can be moved around and/or expanded.

My tomato cages fell over last year from the weight of the tomatoes and plant growth.  I found this set up to be an easy solution but would try using one T-post instead of two.

Ok, the secret is out....The Natural Gardner is my garden guru.  :D  Hope you can use an idea or two.
Until next time, God bless.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Progress in the Big Garden

While there are still veggies to go into the big garden, it is coming along nicely.

I made a slight error when the 6 yards of a mixture of rose magic and compost was delivered.  I had it put in the middle of the garden area thinking it would be easier to spread from a central location.   We spread 6 yards of compost on the garden last year and really only needed to add about 3-4 inches of the combined soil/compost to each row.  More than half of this year's load sits in the middle of the garden blocking 4 rows.  We laid down a big piece of black plastic and are moving the soil to the edge of the fenced area.  Sometimes my logic is not the best.  You live and learn.

I'm very excited about the new potatoes because it looks like each piece planted is on its way.

Look at how lush the leaves are.

I may have lost the bare-root strawberries, but the archicoke bare-root crown is doing very well.

Not one seed has been planted in this bed, but something is growing here.  I'm thinking it is either watermelon or cantaloupe.  If you will recall, a critter was eating the heart out of every cantaloupe in this garden and I left some watermelons in this area at the end of the season.  Look close at the disturbed soil to the side  - I had a visitor last night.  I removed the landscape timbers under the gates since we were coming and going into this garden to weed, spread dirt, plant, and water.  The timbers were replaced this morning.

I planted two peach trees in this garden.  I was afraid that I had waited too long before getting this one in the ground.  I'm happy to report that both peach trees are leafing out and this one even has a few flower buds!  It is recommended that a peach tree has a full two-years growth before allowing peaches to develop.  So, it'll be 2014 before we pick peaches from this tree.

I couldn't find cow peas (black-eyed peas) in the seeds section at Home Depot, Tractor Supply or H.E.B.   I decided to just use some dried peas from the grocery store.  So far out of the three 20 foot rows planted, there is one sprouting pea.  lol  I've since found a couple of packets which are on standby if these do not grow.  You can't plant a garden in Texas without some black-eyed peas.  :D   Next, I'm going to try planting pinto beans from those you can pick up at the grocery store.

This is the biggest of the three asparagus planted last month.   Planting asparagus was easier than I thought and will pick up some more crowns next year.  Petunias are in the background.

The echinecea (coneflower) is very hardy.  The dump truck delivering the soil ran over two of the three plants, yet all are coming up.  I do not know of anything special that coneflowers do for veggies, but they do attract pollinators.  And, when all danger of frost is over, I'll plant nastursiums, sunflowers, marigold, zinnias and a variety of other benefical flowers.        

The radishes are sprouting.  I do not like radishes but read where they are a garden workhorse because it is thought that radishes may deter squash borers.  In addition, radishes deter leaf miners, the cucumber beetles,  corn borers, and rust flies. Plant radish every where except near cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and turnips.

The zuchinni squash is coming nicely, although the critter visitor last night tore up several squash plants.  I stuck them back in the ground.

Check out this hole the critter dug last night!  The ground is too soft for a good track imprint but it left a trail as if it had a tail.  So, I'm thinking it was an armadillo.  I think I have figured out how to mount the wildlife camera on something other than the fence around the perimeter.  I'm going to try to mount it on the wheel barrow just above the wheel, move it near the area that the critter found so interesting last night.  The fence is just too far away to get a good photo of a small critter.  The landscape timbers are now place under the gates and there is about 80 feet left at the fence on which to add chicken wire to the bottom.  

Soon I'll be interplanting corn, green beans for nitrogen replacement in the soil, and sunflowers which hopefully will attact various catepillars and worms away from the corn.  Last year's corn crop was fed to the cows.  Hopefully, this year's corn crop will be served at my table.

Until next time, God bless.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I'm Back! And Plus Garden Stuff

After 3+ hours and 3 telephone calls to Dell, I received the replacement keyboard.  I was assured on the first two telephone calls to Dell that the keyboard was on its way.  The keyboard was not even ordered until the third phone call on Friday!  It is not the same keyboard that was ordered for the computer, namely it is the cheapest available and not back lit.  However, at this moment, I'm thrilled to be able to type words and spaces instead of copying and pasting each letter and space.  :D  But, I will give long consideration before purchasing an extended warranty that supposedly replaces the equipment. 

Enough with the complaints and on to a much happier subject. Here are some photos of the little garden's progress.

White geraniums function as a toxic, trap crop for the Japanese beetle.  It is suggested that the white geranium be planted about 20 feet from the garden to draw the beetles to it.  Aren't the flowers lovely with the pink anthers?

Red spider mites and cabbage worms steer clear of all geraniums.  Plant geraniums close to corn, grapes and cabbage.  This geranium is planted in the herb garden but will pick up one or two more when the corn is planted which should be by the end of this week or the first of the next -- got to consult the Farmer's Almanac to see which days are good for planting seeds that produce above ground.  :D

This is the African marigold which reseeded from last year's.  I had quite a few African marigolds in the garden last year, but this is the only one I've found so far.  I'm just hoping that I didn't pull up the seedlings thinking they were weeds. 

Petunias attract the asparagus beetle, leaf hoppers, and some aphids away from your veggies.  In fact, petunias are good to plant throughout your garden.  I bought a flat containing 24 petunias and have 5 left to plant. 

The yarrow is coming up nicely in the herb garden.  I will probably transplant some of it in both the little and the big gardens because yarrow attracts predatory wasps and lady bugs.  I don't know if it is an old wives tale but was told to use a yarrow poultice on a brown recluse spider bite.  Should I ever be bitten by one, not only will I rush to the nearest doctor but will apply yarrow poultices.  I believe in covering all bases.

Four weeks ago the garlic chives were frozen to death or so I thought.  This is what it looks like today.

Two years ago I bought a couple of basil plants for my herb garden.  I haven't needed to buy any since as it reseeds itself.  I plan to transplant a few of these close to tomatoes, asparagus and petunias.  Basil deters thrips in addition to improving the taste of tomatoes. 

My first attempt at growing mesclun greens which makes for a delicious addition in salads.

Finally, a strawberry is appearing.  I've not had any success with strawberries this year in that I planted 30 bare root plants which died during our two-week freeze in February.  I bought 10 more and they never put out one green leaf.  As a measure of desperation, I bought a container with six strawberry plants.  I want to separate and transplant to the ground but am afraid they will die.  For the record, I bought a strawberry kit and jar last year.  They never sprouted a leaf.  I may be jinxed when it comes to strawberries but have not quit trying.  I dearly love strawberries!  I shall overcome.  :D

Hot peppers, jalapeno in this case, are a good companion to tomatoes.  We'll see since I transplanted four near the tomatoes that went into the ground yesterday.

I bought 7 tomatoes plants.  I read somewhere to plant tomatoes much deeper than where the soil meets the stem.  I tore off the bottom leaves and buried about 1/2 of the stem.  It is said that the main stem gets stronger and, of course, the roots are much deeper.  As I said, 7 were planted.  This morning I am one less; I suspect Maggie jumped into the little garden sometime last night on one of her trips out to patrol the premises or after she went out this morning.  UGH!  I'll be buying a couple more plants. 

I think I know how Maggie is getting into the little garden; but, naturally, the wildlife camera was not turned on.  I'm thinking she jumps into the herb garden and then using that additional height to leap over the 4' fence on the little garden's side.  I've been waiting since January for rain to enlarge the little garden and enclose the herb garden by pounding in more T-posts on which to attach 5' horse wire.  It hasn't rained more than a few drops since January 15 and the ground is like concrete. 

Whew!  This is a long entry, but I've been out of a keyboard since last Monday and had a lot stored up to say.  lol  For the record, though, as the week progressed, I got much better at picking out single letters and numbers with the mouse to copy and paste.  I couldn't stay silent for long. 

Until next time, God bless.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

No keyboard--Mouse only

cut and pasted--keyboard on order
pear trees 


Until next time, God bless.

Monday, March 21, 2011

24 Hours Through the Eye of the Camera

Evidently the "little" garden is a busy place.  For those that do not know, the "little" garden is in the corner of my yard and is completely fenced. 

The resident roadrunner drops in for a look around.  Of course, it's not a mystery as to how he got in the garden.

He or she decides to pose for the camera.

The raiding bunny is back for more spinach and/or lettuce.  The camera is pointed in a different direction and I've yet to find how this bunny gets into the garden.

Maggie drops in again.  How she gets in is a mystery too. 

No doubt Maggie thinks she has found an intruder; perhaps, it's a grasshopper or cricket. 

Time to move the camera to a different location to see how Maggie and the bunny gets in.

Until next time, God bless.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Early Morning Garden Visitor

How did it get in here?  No holes in the fencing.  Wire is in contact with the ground.

Spots spinach.

The smell test.

Calls for more inspection.

Apparently does not pass the smell test, and it's time to go.

Where did it go?  How did it get out  -- the garden is enclosed.  Camera is to be relocated to face the direction from which the rabbit first was seen.

Until next time, God bless.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Kindle 3G + Wi Fi

Got the Kindle the other day and am loving it.  It's easy to navigate and incredibly easy to download books.  There is no wireless set up with this particular model because it has built-in free 3G connectivity which uses the same wireless signals that cell phones do.  And, there are no monthly fees and you can download from just about anywhere without having to find a "hot spot." 

I ordered a bookcover for protection -- purple, of course.

My first download was a free book, "Letters of a Woman Homesteader."  It is a collection of letters written by Elinor Pruitt Stewart who, as a widow, travelled with her 2-year old daughter to Wyoming from Denver in 1909 to claim  a 160 acre homestead, made possible by the recently passed Homestead Act.  Mrs. Stewart was a true feminist in every sense of the word.

It's fascinating reading about her adventures, courage, and general living conditions of the times in the West.
She exhibits an indomitable positive spirit in the face of hardships and danger.   She doesn't complain or whine but goes about daily chores and living with a wonderful sense of purpose.  She shows you Wyoming through her eyes. 

I'm amazed at how unselfish and caring these Americans were on the frontier.   Nothing was much of an imposition be it harsh weather or the number of miles to be traveled.  She writes about several widows in the area who seem to have the same attitude and joy. 

The light comes in handy and can be rotated.

The pockets in the cover are perfect for the quick reference guide and business cards.

Many or most of the classics are available in the Kindle format and are free!  Can't beat that.  One of my favorite movies is Pride and Prejudice, the 1995 TV mini-series, starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.  I've never read the book.  Pride and Prejudice is one of the free downloads at Amazon.  That is next on my list.

Until next time, God bless.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Homestead Happenings

Let me introduce the newest addition to our homestead.  At this juncture we are not sure of the gender, but it was born about a week ago.  Its mother hid it out for about five or six days.  The mother usually brought her calves up within a day or two; and so when we did not see this calf by Sunday, we became concerned that something was wrong.  It is not uncommon for range cows to hide their calves for up to a week except that this particular mother never had done so in the past.   Both hubby and I walked the acreage several days in a row in an effort to find the calf but were unsuccessful.  We were quite relieved to see this newborn following its mother yesterday morning. 

On another front, the spinach survived the extreme cold spell a few weeks back and is doing well.  The strawberries did not survive.  Drat!  It is suppose to be too late for planting strawberries in our zone, but if I find some healthy plants, I'll probably give it a try.

Ooops, something decided to snack on this particular spinach plant.  Wouldn't you know it, but I unloaded the wildlife camera  which is trained on the spinach and did not reload the camera.  The broccoli was untouched. 

Maggie tried to tell us something was amiss.  She kept wanting out during the night.  After the third time of getting up to let her out, I decided she could stay out the rest of the night.  I did not wait up for her to scratch at the door to get back in and went back to sleep.  However, her barking woke up hubby, i.e., shift change.  He tried to ignore her barking for over an hour before deciding to get up to call her to get in the house. 

I'm a day late and a dollar short but the wildlife camera was in operation last night.  There were no visitors.
I'm beginning to think the critters watch me from afar and know when the camera is not operational.  lol
It's a critter conspiracy.  Got to go now, the tiller is calling to me.

Until next time, God bless.