Thursday, April 8, 2021

Tuesday Musing...

 I started this blog when my son was just a little fella and it is hard to believe he is now 16!! So I wanted to do a little throwback with some of my favorite Ebear memories over the years.

The first cucumber we grew and harvested was so exciting.  I couldn't wait to eat it, but he just looked at me in horror and said We can't eat him! He is Roy E. Boy! Yes, he named it. Then he proceeded to carry it around until it was going bad. He took that cucumber everywhere from his grandparents to out to eat with us. 

He always loved to cook and come up with his own recipes using up our little garden harvests in the most delightful ways.

He was also creative in how we would plant our fruits and veggies. Case in point is this lively pea tower complete with all kinds of little toys to get lost in the jungle. 

He even loved to share the delight of gardening with others. 

I know that the time for all our garden fun is on pause if not lost all together. He is a teenager and those activities simply aren't cool anymore (nor am I). I understand, but it still tugs at my heart. I know he will continue to grow (though he towers over me as is), his voice will get deeper, and before long he will move out and leave. I can only hope that one day he will come back to visit and perhaps join me in the garden.

What is your favorite gardening memory and who was it with? 

Friday, April 2, 2021

2021 Garden Begins!!

 The past few weeks I have been doing what I should have done this Fall... building up the garden beds. I am regretting not doing it sooner as weeds are everywhere and it is taking so much longer. I was just done last Fall after the circle garden project. It took forever!! We did somewhat reclaim the circle garden so I think it was worth it. Still wish I had found the energy to get the beds together. 

To be honest, though, my energy the past few years to do anything extra just hasn't been there. Even before the pandemic work was a struggle. I had one of the most hectic and tiring summer programs I had ever had so while I gardened there just wasn't much left to build up beds. I also didn't blog much or do many podcasts. Then there was 2020 and work was even busier - still is. I think I am in a better headspace and as things here are improving for the time being I am hoping to share the garden adventures again.

I think it is important to share not just the pretty pictures and the garden harvest, but also the not so pretty work that goes into everything. I have done blog posts and a podcast on lasagna gardening so I won't go in full detail but here is what mid project looks like:

As you can see I have only weeded a third of the bed, but you can see the process. Cardboard, scraps, a little dirt, and some leaves. As the season goes on there will be plenty of kitchen scraps and used coffee grounds as well as dried grass to add.  Right now I am debating on what to do with the space. Plant directly in, put pots over it and allow a year of recovery,  or a combination of both. We shall see what the garden season brings. I do plan on growing sweet potatoes in a potato grow bag to see how what goes so at least part of it will be covered. 

I have finished a few spots such as the grape vine area and where I will plant my tomatoes at:

Also, we need to mow and clean up the outside. Storms galore lately with high wind has blown everything (even trash) so many many places. Also, I did not do a good job trimming the grapevine, but figure we will see what happens from that. Future tomato area:

Now, let's see what we have managed to plant. It isn't a lit because we still have some freezing nights. 

Potatoes. I know it is probably a bit early for them and have doubts about whether the container will hold up, but since they were red potatoes that had sprouted I figured I had nothing to lose. I have been getting Misfits boxes (this is not an ad) and since they ship in sturdy boxes I piled two of those together. I put in some dirt and leaves and plopped those sprouted potatoes in. They are just now peeking out of the leaves. I will add some more lraves on today because it is supposed to be cold again tonight. I have already had to prop up the outer box so don't think it will make it long. However potatoes are often just hilled up in dirt so if it falls apart I will keep mounding it up and all should be well. Guess I will stick to placing the boxes down in the bottom layer of the lasagna method. 

We also have a very small patch of Spring or cool weather veggies under the porch steps. I have been covering them with a set of old curtains and so far that had protected them. I think part of that is the warmth from the leaves. I didn't put any cardboard or dirt down just veggies peelings, coffee grounds, and leaves. I made a hole in the lasagna area, put in a little dirt, and planted the starts. Then I put a bit more dirt around them and more leaves. 

We still managed to get a bit of variety in the bed. We have two types of lettuce: Romaine and red leaf (6 plants each):

We also planted 6 plants of kale:

Then 6 plants of brocolli:

At the edge Ibplanted some garlic and onion sets. The garlic has popped up but I just planted the onion sets last week. I also planted a row if onions in the grape vine bed but they also have not came up yet. 

I hope you have enjoyed our start of garden prep and tour. Have you started your garden yet or are you waiting for warmer weather crops? As always, happy gardening y'all!




Sunday, December 2, 2018

Late Sweet Potato Resuls

If you have been keeping up with the blog you know that at the end of Spring we picked up some sweet potato slips on sale for $1. We planted them just to see what would happen. 

We set them out in shopping bags, and they grew well as you can see from the following pictures:

Then it got cold and the tops died off. So we dumped them out (sorry we did it on a whim and I forgot to get pictures) and found....

that they needed a little longer. Tubers did grow but didn't have time to fully reach potato status. Now I wish we had left one in to see if they'd continue growing or not. I don't think they would have and wish I had remembered to cover them before it got cold. If I had maybe they would have had time to maje a more substantial tuber. Also, if we'd had a typical (warmer) November they might have had more time.

It wasn't a success, but does let me know we can plant on sale plants later than usual but probably not as late as we did and that they do grow well in shopping bags. I would pick a thick strong bag. Our smaller and stronger bag can be used again but the larger one just tore to pieces. 

It is nice to have that area clear since it allowed us to put the side garden to bed. Look for a post about that soon. Happy gardening everyone!

Tucking the Garden in for Winter...

     I shared the lasagna gardening technique with everyone awhile back. Today I am going to show how I tuck my garden in for winter. I live in TN so usually I have cold temps, a little snow from time to time, and well a lot of rain/sleet/ice. Usually freezing or hovering near temps, but sometime it dips into the teens or single digits. So, what works for me may not work where you are. However, this technique saved my strawberries and grapevine one dry cold winter a few years back. If you are in a cold area you may wantto add mors protection such as plastic covering over the top. 

     I like to rake up my Fall leaves and use them to cover my garden area. Some people prefer to use mulch but I like leaves. One- I already have them in my yard. Two- this is similar to how nature works. Three-I like the look. It is like my garden is all snug as a bug in a rug. 

We will start with the front gardenbed. 

Mr. Rubber plant(which I need to research if he needs more protection) now has leaves covering all but the top of his head. 

Then we have out little patch of green. I covered behind my trusty red fencing that I had the tomatoes on earlier this year. As you can see this is one area we planted for Fall, and even with a few nights in the teens and me forgetting to cover during frost is still growing. Slowly as this has more shade than the back, but growing none the less. I let little E help with this so all I can say is that there is a combination of peas, lettuce, kale, raddish, and spinach. Possibly beets or cabbage too. There are some spots I can tell what is growing and others I am not sure about yet. I am actually surprised there are still things growing. I left this area alone just to see how long it can last. I covered the back garden so I will be able to tell the difference and find out which is better to do in the future. 

Then I covered everything else in leaves. Between the green area and the purple garden lives the strawberries. Sometimes I loose a few of the plants but usually most if not all of them make it through the winter. 

Little E's purple Fall garden bed is growing as well. I piled the leaves up around it to help keep it from freezing as much. Interestingly enough it did freeze a few times already, but the plants popped back up. In this picture you can see a strawberry plant peeking out on the left and the lemon thyme in the front. I covered half the thyme and left the other half out to see what would happen. 

I hope you enjoyed our first tucked in tour. Soon I will show you the side and back garden. Happy gardening everyone!

Beautiful Fall Day

I am not the type of person who enjoys the cold... seriously. When our area was hit with some colder than normal temperatures I was ready to mentally prepare myself for the winter blues.  I know many in the Northern areas have already had SNOW so feel free to chuckle a little at me. 

This weekend we had some lovely temps though. I was so pumped and then the rain came and stayed Friday and Saturday. Sunday, however, was truly wonderdul. 

The air was crisp and cool. The sky was so bright and blue with little wispy clouds. The sun was bright and warm. It has rejuvenated me!! I was able to get out and finish up some Fall chores that I had pretty much given up on doing in comfort.  

Tonight (Tuesday) it is cold and spitting out a few snow flurries. December in Tennessee shorts one day and a coat the next. 

I hope that wherever you are safe and warm surrounded by love. Happy gardening everyone

Monday, October 1, 2018

Lasagna Gardening

     So, I have tried the lasagna garden method before. It was more of a low key attempt to turn my horrid clay soil into something less clay like. I gathered materials like some newspapers, veggie peelings, egg shells, tea grounds and piles of leaves. My layers were not very thick, but it did help. 

     Then along came little E and I abandoned anything that took time. My garden became much smaller (and was non existent that first year). I simply had to pause that hobby (source of sanity) because between work and family I had little time and pretty much no energy. In fact the first six month to a year are a little fuzzy. Any full time working parents in the crowd? Little E was a horrible sleeper (honestly she still gets up and she is almost 4, but thankfully I get more like 5 to 6 hours instead of 3 to 4) so I was running on fumes most days.

     Now that things have settled and she is interested in taking part in the garden process I have more time and energy to devote towards gardening. She is actually pretty helpful in most aspects from planting, picking, and watering to composting. I decided the soil needed another pick me up so began hoarding materials this Spring and Summer in preparation for the lasagna garden. 

     So, you may be thinking-what is a lasagna garden? Essentially it is you creating dirt the old fashioned way... you know like Mother Nature does it. It is similar to a cold or slow compost. Be warned this method takes months (if a lot of material it could take up to almost a year). It has worked for me before, but I have ramped it up to see how much of a difference that makes. Essentially you layer your materials (much like a lasagna) alternating green and brown materials. 

     Green materials consist of items such as vegetable peelings, grass clippings, pulled up plants (most people do so without seeds but sometimes I throw them in so I can hopefully get some volunteers), coffee/tea grounds and manure. 

     Brown materials include cardboard, newspapers, word chips, wood ash, raked leaves, straw, or sawdust.

     As far as I can tell as long as you alternate green and brown you are good to go. It can be a few layers or a lot of layers. Theoretically the more layers the more dirt (compost) you will have as a final product. To help you understand (and see- I know I  am not the only visual person here) I took pictures of the process as I created my lasagna garden the other day.

     I did forget to get a pic of the layer of cardboard by itself, but as long as you overlap either cardboard or newspapers it will help make a nice weed barrier and set the stage. Then water it down well to keep it from flying away. If using newspapers make them several layers thick and water throughout or they can try your patience by flying away-more so than the cardboard. Also, pick a fairly non windy day to save yourself some frustration.

     Next put on a green layer. We used dried grass clippings and then laid some cornstalks on top that we had pulled up awhile back (kind of helps keep the layer from blowing away). 

     Next we went for more cardboard (but broken up so it will break down faster). We want the bottom layer to go slower so it should be thicker, but this one isn't a weed barrier. At this point it looked kind of like... well a trash bin, but I promise it will get better. Also, remember it could be any of the brown ingredients... I just happen to have hoarded a lot of cardboard. 

     Then, you guessed it- more greens. Though this time it was all the plants I had pulled up clearing the space. So, my wonderful veggie plants can produce one more time just in a different way. 

     I worried that it would be too thin of a layer once it broke down so I threw some more grass on there. Don't forget that you need to water between each layer. 

     Note that I put sticks on top because I was done for the time being and they help it settle and stay together. I figured I would wait until enough leaves fell and add them on later. Then I looked out a few days later and saw it was time to rake a bit. So I added a final brown layer.

     As you can see it has been piled well above the garden bed, but remember these are loose layers (like it should be as it composts better loose than when it is packed down hard) and when they break down it will shrink considerably. 

     I want to take a little moment to let you know that method can be used for other reasons than just to build up new (rich) soil. Some people do this exclusively to accomplish a no dig no till garden. Others use it to build a new garden bed and will plant directly into it typically after putting some soil down (usually just under the top layer or as the top layer ). Also, like I plan to do, they may add more to it over time. I will probably lay down some veggie peelings, dried grass, and coffee or tea grounds and then some more leaves. There are also some people who will add layers around plants as they grow. Remember it is up to you.

     Put down a few layers or several, keep adding on or do it one time and let it sit, use it immediately or wait for it to break down, it is your garden and your choice. 

     Have you ever tried a lasagna garden method? If so drop a comment and tell me about your experience. 

Happy Gardening Everyone!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Sweet Potato Update- End of September

 Our sweet potato slips that we got last month in an amazing sale are still growing. As you can see we have had some bugs eating at the leaves, but overall the plants are still doing well. I don't think we have any potatoes yet, and am not sure if we will before it gets too cold, but the leaves are spreading everywhere! So far I think that using cloth shopping bags as worked well. The roots have starting going through the bottom, which I guess isn't a bad thing.  I will continue to update as Fall progresses and the plants grow. I am working on developing a system to keep the plants alive (hopefully) through the cooler weather in the hopes we will indeed get some sweet potatoes. If you have any suggestions or ideas feel free to leave them in the comment section.

Happy Gardening Everyone!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

What is still growing- Late September

As you can see there are still several things growing in the garden. It seems like just as some plants have finally made their way through their growing cycle others are getting a second wind. Usually, the strawberry foliage stays until it gets very cold, but we don't really get more strawberries. This year however, we have some putting forth a handful of strawberries every so often. It is a very rewarding surprise for the kids as freshly picked always tastes so much better!

Our cilantro has went to seed, but our thyme keeps spreading and our basil is growing so well! I need to pick it again and make some more pesto. We have been able to make several batches of pesto from the basil and other herbs. I love the lemon thyme and think that I am going to try and dry some of the herbs soon and see how that goes. I will update and let everyone know. 

Our green pepper plant has just exploded. We had been able to get a few peppers here and there previously, but now it has a lot growing. I am hoping that they can get to a decent size before the coolness of fall comes around. We are excited because everyone in the house loves green peppers and I use them in cooking a lot. This may be the plant that I bring in and try to grow in the dining room over the winter.

We have one last little pumpkin growing that is about ready to be harvested. Once it is harvested then we will pull up the pumpkin vine, the beans in that area, and cut back the grapevine. This to me signals that beginning of the end of the spring/summer garden.

If  you still have things growing in the garden feel free to share with us below in the comments.
Happy Gardening Everyone!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Mid September harvest

We have been a little quieter on here the last few weeks and to be honest the next few might be a little spaced out as well. It is a busy time at work and as Fall is approaching we don't harvest as much. We did get some Fall garden sections planted and we have been hoarding up some supplies for when we pull up the Spring plants and put those garden spots to bed. There will be updates on those soon. 

For now we are mostly harvesting a few cucumbers as well as small batches of tomatoes and beans. I love that we still have a wide variety of tomatoes because they all have their own taste and purpose.

Mr. Stripey is a wonderf sandwich or burger tomato, the yellow and pink Brandywine are great to chop and put in salads or on tacos. I also like to cook with them. The small ones are great for a little snack or to put in tuna salad. For us our small harvests are great. There is just enough to eat, but it isn't overwhelming. 

We hope you gardens are still giving you a little produce. 

Happy gardening everyone!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

How does your garden grow?

Mine grows as it wishes. Completely chaotic and charming at the same time. I like to think that this is more akin to nature. Nature doesn't spread her beauty in nice perfect rows (not that I have anything against it), but rather mixed up all together in a splendid show of color and bounty. She likes to put in a lot of green with spots of color and plenty of food for wild animals and nectar for bees. She keeps evolving and changing with new growth to replace the old. I like to think she also puts in a lot of love. Ours, this year, is full of all of this. 



New growth.

And love.

Happy gardening everyone.