Tag Archives: gardening

Gardening

I thought I would post a few pictures of the beginnings of the garden this year. I’m always so hopeful in Spring and lose the momentum by the end of Summer. Hoping I can avoid that this year. My husband might have to get a permit and sit out on the deck with a bow and shoot the deer if they try to eat my garden this year. I’m serious.

 

This is last year’s kale. It is a biennial, but most people pull it up after one season. I’m letting this batch go to seed so I can save the seeds.

 

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I’m trying two new to me varieties of peas. Desiree Dwarf Peas.Image

And Alaska Peas.

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I also ordered a raised bed from my local Master Gardeners group. We are selling them as a fundraiser for our group. I think it’s great, I’ve never used a raised bed before.

It has been filled with: Lollo DeVino lettuce, Swiss Chard, Scarlet Nantes Carrots, Pepperone di Cuneo Peppers, Mixed Orach and Brussels Sprouts. Down the center of the bed I planted Globe Artichokes.

 

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We are seriously considering another bed. I need to measure the remaining area to see if there is room for it without expanding the garden space.

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Composting

It’s a great way to get rid of kitchen scraps, leaves, grass clippings, and weeds. You don’t need a fancy compost bin or tumbler. If you want to invest in one, that’s great. My compost bin is built from wooden pallets. I stood them up to make a 3 sided box and screwed them together. I left the front open for easy access to the pile. Then I added a second bin to the side later. It’s pretty easy to find. I got mine for free from a local store.

The Standard Method recommends is 3x3x3 feet. You want a 30:1 ratio of carbon to nitrogen. Start the pile with a layer of mature. dead material, like leaves. It helps to have the leaves chopped into small pieces, they will compost faster than if they were left whole. You can accomplish this by mowing over the leaves before raking or if you have a bagging mower just use that and dump the bag of leaves into the pile.

Next add a 4-6 inch layer of fresh green material, grass clippings or kitchen waste. Use a pitch fork or shovel to mix the layers together. Continue to add layers of fresh and mature materials until the pile reaches the desired size or your bin is full. Mix each layer in as it is added. Grab a handful of the materials and squeeze. If a few drops of water come out it is wet enough. If not you will need to add some water to reach the proper moisture content of 60%.

A few days after construction your pile should have an internal temperature of 110 degrees. Turn the pile after one week. The internal temperature should reach about 140 degrees. Turn the pile again after one week. Then a third time one week later. By this point your pile should have reduced in size by about 50%. The internal temperature will have dropped to about 100 degrees.

After four weeks the compost should look uniform, a dark brown color and have an earthy smell. The Carbon to Nitrogen ratio will have dropped as the microbes use the carbon and release it as carbon dioxide. The compost can be used as a soil amendment in the garden. If you want to use it as a potting medium let it age for another week or two.

This sounds relatively easy in theory. Since I just learned this in my Master Gardener class it has opened my eyes as to why my pile is not composting.

Here are my mistakes:

1. Particle size too large-I did not chop the leaves first. I also did not crush the egg shells first, bad idea they don’t want to compost at all!

2. Wrong C:N ratio. My pile is composed mostly of leaves. I need to add more nitrogen.

3. Too dry. Must add more water.

4. Infrequent turning. Turn it more often!

5. Wrong screws. I didn’t use outdoor screws. They rusted and my bin is falling apart.

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That patch of green on the left side is a clump of squash plants. There was a squash in the pile, when I turned it the squash burst open and the seeds came out. I was surprised that they germinated. So I just left them there since I’ve run out of room in the garden.

Gardening in 2013

It’s off to a good start. I have tomato, basil, cucumber and squash seedlings in pots. They are growing, biding their time until it is warm enough to plant them in the ground. Just two more weeks before it’s safe here.

In the ground I have planted spinach, kale, Swiss chard, lettuce, onions, sugar snap peas and green beans. The greens and onions are all coming up. They look great so far. When I checked yesterday there were two or three peas popping up too. I’ll get some posts or large twigs to make a trellis for the peas to climb.

The bulbs I planted have come up and most have bloomed already. I forgot the names of some things, silly me, I didn’t label them when I planted them. There are hyacinths, Jonquils, Snowdrops, Scilla, and Crocuses. The Peony I planted last year has come up this week. I hope it blooms this year. It was too stressed last year to bloom.

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This is a lovely pink hyacinth. It is Phoebe’s favorite. I prefer the blue. The scent of the blue hyacinth just says “Spring” to me. The pink has a slightly different scent.

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I am taking the Master Gardener course through the Extension Service. I plan to post some things I’ve learned so far. Like why my compost pile is not working. 🙂