I mentioned a few weeks ago that we converted a bit of yard-space into raised beds for growing food. We got everything in the ground and it has pretty much all “taken”. If you have never tried, stuff grown in your own garden is far superior to food you buy in a store. I don’t know if it is due to the extra talking-to gardeners give their plants or if it is the extra-special compost we add, but homegrown veggies are just the best!
Broccoli and tomatoes and Brussels sprouts and peppers growing!
Perhaps my favorite garden veggie and the one that is most distinct in taste from what you buy in the store is that magnificent little delicacy most people call broccoli. Raw broccoli is better, cooked broccoli is better, and deep-fried broccoli is better! It is sort of magical as it grows. The plant first sets really nice leaves that are a little hard to distinguish from cabbage or Brussels sprouts (my second favorite veggie!) or cauliflower. So, if you garden like I do, sometimes it is a bit of a mystery which plant is which as they become jumbled in the frenzy to get stuff planted. But one day as you check your garden, you notice a little green bush growing in the center of the stalk of leaves. It quickly grows into a little broccoli head and then that grows and grows and before you know it, you have a magical head of broccoli!
A baby broccoli growing!
I was so pleased to see the first few heads present themselves and now they are growing like mad. In a few weeks I will take the first heads from the garden and we will make entire meals of broccoli! The coolest thing is that when you cut one head, two more come to replace it. Broccoli keeps making heads to replace the ones that were removed. The plants looks a little Frankensteinish after a cutting or two so, to preserve my children’s sanity, I don’t cut too many heads before we retire the plant to the compost pile in the sky. Until then, however, we delight in the glories of home-grown broccoli!This entry was posted in Garden and tagged Garden, It's food...coming from the ground! by warren
We have chunks of yard at our place, some of which the kids play around in, but most of which we complain about mowing more than anything. In particular, the fenced in back part where the former dog used to stay was a big waste of space. With the dog having run away, the canine treasures returned to earth leaving us once again with usable space.
Digging a ditch builds character…do well in school kids!
As with most of our projects, we decided to go big, heavy and expensive! Actually, we just went with big and heavy but I like the added drama. Anyhow,we decided to turn a mess of a yard into garden space using railroad ties to build raised beds. We spent a few days digging up the apparent underground rock garden that existed before we decided to make a garden in our yard. I leveled out space and added gravel for drainage under the railroad ties and we began to set them. It turns out that our railroad ties are 8’6″ and weigh around 200 pounds each. We used around 17 of them for our space so you can imagine how sore and tired
my mule Emily and I were just moving the pieces into place.
Abigail drilled a few of the holes we drove rebar through to bind the ties together. We used a lot of rebar to make sure they stay in place!
I laid cardboard boxes over the existing ground to keep weeds down and we lined the edges with plastic to minimize the leaching of creosote from the ties into the soil. The plastic does not cover the entire basin of the garden so water will still drain fine and worms can still navigate upwards without impediment.
The cardboard will eventually rot away but not before killing weeds and stuff from coming up through
I read a bunch about creosote and railroad ties before undertaking this effort. Creosote is pretty bad stuff and eating it would not be a great thing. I read a number of opinions on the subject and came to a few conclusions. First, used ties have probably leached out the worst of what is going to leach out already. Secondly, I didn’t have my soil tested for contaminants to start with and most people do not. That fact makes it apparent that we don’t really worry about our garden soil anyhow. Finally, my soil is still almost assuredly better than soil somewhere far away on an industrial farm and my food is not likely to pick up any more contaminants that what food that travels by train car and truck picks up. I added the plastic liner and have determined that I will not worry about it any further.
Those rocks were huge and buried. I suppose the digging was easier but only because the rocks took up so much space!
So, we had to buy a bunch of dirt (56 bags of .75 cubic feet top soil to be exact…plus 6 bags of manure) to fill in the space. It looks awesome and will hold a bunch of vegetable plants. Isaac, Abigail and I planted it over the course of a few days. We added marigolds for decoration and because all gardens are supposed to grow marigolds. We also have tomatoes, jalapenos, brussel sprouts, broccoli and bell peppers. It looks so much better than the yard that used to be there plus I get to eat all of my favorite vegetables right out of my back yard!
I cut the angles in the ties where they ended using a chainsaw. Creosote sawdust down your back will leave a rash!
For now we have some of the rocks I dug up holding the liner in place. I will eventually top it with more wood and make it look better, but for now, our new garden space makes me smile every morning when I see it…both for the veggies growing and for the fact that I do not have to mow that space! Yeah gardens!This entry was posted in Family, Food, Garden and tagged Eat your lawn!, Garden, I am a mule, Mowing sucks! by warren
We planted a garden at our property this year (we used to garden at Emily’s grandparents’ place) and it was a terrible failure…mostly. The only semi-success was a patch of sunflowers we planted. I really love sunflowers (and really, pretty much all yellow flowers) so I was delighted that if only one thing could succeed, it was the sunflowers.
Sunflowers are absolutely beautiful when in their prime, but I don’t know if you ever noticed just how cool they are when they are done flowering and ready to harvest. I love looking at patterns that sort of draw your attention and refuse to let you look away…know what I mean? Ripe sunflower seeds create just such a pattern.
I don’t know if they are like snowflakes, but if you look at several sunflower heads, each is a little different. A month or more ago, my Dad and I harvested the seeds. It was sort of sad to mess up the patterns but I really love to eat sunflower seeds too! Although the sunflowers are way past yellow, they are still about the best flowers I know. I mean seriously…flowers you can eat?! Awesome!This entry was posted in Food, Garden and tagged Food, Garden by warren
We love to plant a garden and watch as everything shoots up through the ground. I don’t think much is any prettier than a recently plowed garden with loads of young plants poking up all around. We eat a lot of our meals out of the garden in a typical summer. I am a fairly new vegetarian of the year-round sort but we are all pretty much vegetarians in the summer. Well, most summers. Not this summer. We got off to a rocky start with the near constant rainfall that we had during the planting season. Stuff was late going into the ground…everything but the weeds. They thrive no matter what. Couple all of that with the incredible heat and dryness now and we have found the garden to be pretty pitiful.
I guess if I had to pick one thing that would succeed in the garden though, it would be green beans. I love green beans and could almost live on them and mountain dew. Luckily, the green beans and corn are doing exceptionally well this year. We picked and canned 34 pounds of green beans last weekend. It was a marathon canning session ending somewhere around 2 am…a mere 4 hours before the kids usually get up. Anyhow, we are in the beans this year for sure. There are tons more following the ones we picked so it will be another busy weekend. Of course, it can’t all be smooth and easy. We planted a bag full of bean seed clearly marked tenderette bush beans. I have no doubt that some of the seeds were in fact tenderettes. The majority of the beans, however, are some other sort of runners.
Bush beans grow in a somewhat compact bush where all of the beans can be picked from individual plants. Folks usually do not have to manage the plants in particular which is one of the reasons we like them. Runners, on the other hand, send out vines and are meant to be trellised or otherwise tied up. Thinking we only had bush beans, we didn’t pay any attention to the beans growing like mad in the garden until it was too late. So, instead of having nice individual rows, we have a freakin’ blob of bean plants chocked full of beans. With machete in hand, one can venture into the bean jungle and harvest, but it isn’t easy or fun.
There is still plenty of growing time left so we may yet be surprised with what the old garden will produce. It’s all good though. Even on my deserted island of a garden, I have to one thing I could not bear to do without…Jack Sparrow needed rum…I need green beans, savvy?
This entry was posted in Canning, Food, Garden, WV by warren
We grow all sorts of stuff in the garden…we grow beans and corn and peppers and tomatoes. We’ve grown gourds and squash and zukes too. This year though, we tried pumpkins. Last year we bought an absolutely perfect pumpkin at the local farmers’ market. We carved it up and roasted most of the seeds. I saved a few though figuring I would give it a go this year. Holy cow those seeds made more perfect pumpkins this year!
Most of the garden is pretty well done for us this year. I expected that pumpkins would take much longer to develop…you know, so they would be timed right for the coming of the Great Pumpkin (Charlie Brown). I suppose real pumpkin farmers plant their seeds a bit later than we did. Anyhow, our pumpkins turned orange and were looking awesome last week so I decided to harvest them. They are winter squash so I expect that they will last a good long time (’til Halloween at least I hope!)
I have enjoyed thinking about saving seeds and have done it some but this year I was impressed and really see the point of saving seeds from the best fruits. We’ll keep seeds from the best of these pumpkins again this year. I’ll be playing Gregor Mendel with pumpkins here in W-by-God-VA. Mark my words folks…WV pumpkins are gonna be incredible in a few years! You can say you heard about it here first! Well, either that or I will end up living in a monastery when Emily gets fed up and throws me out…I am hoping for the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!This entry was posted in Food, Garden and tagged Garden by warren
We have a compost pile in our back yard. We throw all sorts of stuff in there, but I always know what it is when it goes in. This year we had volunteer tomatoes, catnip and a mystery squash come up. I have absolutely no idea what kind of squash this is but I know we have never thrown anything like that in the pile. We have thrown pumpkin and zucchini and cushaw and yellow squash parts into the pile but none of those particularly look like this fruit.
For a bit, I considered the possibility that someone was playing a compost pile prank…but who on Earth would do that? Too bad I don’t have any composting friends though…could be interesting.
Anyhow, back to the subject at hand…does anyone have any idea what this is? Maybe a mutation of some hybrid pumpkin or something? Ginny chomped on one, but quickly left it alone (and you know, my dumb dog eats poop so that ‘s saying something!)
We have found other weird stuff in the course of gardening…This entry was posted in Food, Garden, Nature and tagged Compost, Garden by warren
We work a pretty big garden at Emily’s grandparents’ place. It’s somewhere around the size of Delaware I think. Planting is always a ton of fun and it looks so pretty when all of the plants are just starting to come up. Sometime in June though, craziness happens there. The tomatoes pop overnight and develop hundreds of little green wonders. Without any warning at all, they go from green to red (and on to nasty if we’re not careful) overnight! This year we have somewhere around 55 tomato plants and they each make 1 ton of tomatoes. So, yesterday, in the heat of the day, we crawled out into the garden to weed and pick and work on our tans…and pick tomatoes (and other stuff too…but more on that later) We picked a good number of tomatoes last week…probably 35-40 pounds. I was pretty proud of that…until this week. We kept picking and picking and picking. We weighed in when we got home (for this week…there’s always next week too!!) and found we had collected 81 pounds of tomatoes.
(this is about 2/3 of them…in my family room…)
Now I like tomato stuff. We love to make salsa and pizza sauce and just plain old tomato sauce, but 81 pounds all at once is a bit of a chore. We are fortunate to have a tomato press but it is still a ton of work processing the little squirting devils! I really need to get the child labor bit working better…This entry was posted in Awesome, Canning, Garden by warren
We were a little late getting the garden in place and it seems to be reminding us of that lately. All sorts of stuff came up and it all looks nice…we have beans and squash, and tomatoes. There are all sorts of peppers and corn coming along. We haven’t really eaten anything from the garden yet. Lots of people are eating from the garden and I am jealous! I just hope we’re ready by Halloween!
I have been running around doing all sorts of stuff (sounds like a good excuse, right?) so Emily and her grandfather have done the bulk of the weeding this year. The garden looks beautiful and the end of this month is going to be insane! Like most garden people, it’s a ton of fun at first and by the end, you are ready for a plague of some swarming creature to finish you/the garden off. For me now, though, I am ready to pick and can stuff and eat!
We were in such a hurry to plant earlier this spring, that we accidentally planted corn and beans over top of one another. Of course, that’s a perfectly acceptable way of planting and it is doing well so far…it was just not planned. Seeing things grow in spite of us might be one of the best parts of messing with a garden…well, besides walking barefoot in dirt and seeing all sort of new bugs I can put on Emily’s arm to see her reaction. Yes, other than those things, seeing stuff grow is my favorite part!This entry was posted in Garden and tagged Garden by warren
We always start the garden in early March by planting seeds…especially for tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli and peppers. By the time May 10 (our somewhat official last frost date) rolls around, we have pretty good looking plants ready to go into the ground. We plant by the signs too so we are particular about getting stuff planted at the right time. We got our seeds planted at the right time and then we also go the plants stuck in the ground at the right time. This year, we are participating in a test of “planting by the signs” sponsored by Blind Pig & the Acorn. Basically we planted some squash seeds on the “right” date and some on the “wrong” date. Lots of people are participating so it should be interesting to see what happens.
Anyhow, we got lots of stuff in the ground early in May but some stuff we have had to work on for timing reasons. Two weekends ago we finally got the last of the garden planted. Abigail was a huge help in getting our dry beans and pumpkins planted. She marked our rows, planted some seeds, covered some seeds and laughed a lot. It was a blast being all barefoot in the garden with my smelly little girl!
We checked the garden this weekend after a good rain and everything was up and looking good. Emily’s Grandpa swears he went down in the morning one day before the rain and nothing was up. A few hours later after the rain, everything had come up! That would be cool to see!
So, we are planted and are mostly still weed-free! Typically we stay ahead of the weeds pretty well so I think our time in the garden is about to increase like crazy! No more clean fingernails or soft feet in our household!This entry was posted in Family, Garden and tagged Family, Garden by warren
I have been itching to get dirty again working in the garden. Spring is nearly here and the snow has melted at the house. Daffodils are starting to poke through and I saw my first forsythia blooming today! Spring has to be my favorite time of year as life starts popping again. The bees fly and the birds do what birds do in the Spring. It’s just inspiring to me…I figure I have survived another Winter.
We’ve had a bunch of snow this year in WV and it is melting. Showshoe Mountain in WV actually had more snow this year than they had at Vail, CO. Snowshoe had 227 inches while Vail had 223. So, couple the melt with a good bit of rain and we’ve got flooding around Charleston and elsewhere in WV.
We live on top of a hill in Charleston so we don’t really have any any danger from flooding at our house. Our garden, the one I have been itching to get into, is at Emily’s grandparents’ house which is near the river and a creek that drains one of the big nearby hollers. It is currently under about 5 feet of water. Nearby houses have significant amounts of water in them and many folks have been forced to leave their homes. Even with the flooding, the Corps of Engineers report that flood control dams prevented the water from coming even higher (check out the pictures. We were planning to have Abigail’s birthday party at the South Charleston Rec Center pool…which is now under water).
It’s hard to complain when I consider that our family is safe and our house is intact. Nonetheless, I am still bummed that the garden is under water and my garlic that was planted last fall is undoubtedly ruined. I suppose I will have a chance to work in he garden soon enough. First order of business will be hauling off the trash that washed in. We’ll have to find a compromise with the ducks and fish we have seen in our garden and consider a new place to plant our garlic this coming Fall.This entry was posted in Garden, Nature, WV and tagged Flooding, Garden, WV by warren