Friday, May 18, 2018

Garden Friday

It's Garden Friday!
With abundant rain this week,
things are poppin' up all over!

This bed near the front porch has been overhauled.
Everything that had been planted here was taken up
because it hid the entire front of the house.
I had added the pansies a couple of months back,
it was time to clean this bed up and replant.

We added some allyssum, lantana, sage and lemon grass.
A lone sunflower is creeping up there in the middle.
More Mammoth sunflower seeds have been planted
and we will add to this bed as these things fill out.

 It's been fun watching the straw bales do their thing.
The consistent rain has meant that no watering was needed by me.

 Lettuce and kale has been picked regularly for my daily salads.
Harvesting first thing in the morning is important,
as the heat of the day takes its toll on the crops.


The lettuce varieties include Buttercrunch, Red Salad Bowl, Red Sails,
and two kinds of Romaine.
 I've been picking enough greens to last me a couple of days.
Can't get fresher than that!

 The potato towers are out of control!
I may need to add another hoop over this one,
to ensure that the leaves are covered.

 The cucumbers have really loved the rain.
They are starting to take off and climb up the trellis.
I see pickles in our future!

 It was time to add some more twine to the trellis
for the snap peas to climb.
Hopefully, soon we'll see flowers
and then we are on our way to the sweet stuff!

But alas, everything is not perfect in Garden Town.
Critters have found my greens.
The easiest way to find these guys
is to look for the poop on the leaves.
Follow the trail, and you'll find the source.
Then, it's SQUISH TIME
We garden organically,
so this is the solution we use.
I'm going to try adding coffee grounds to the tops of the bales,
as I've read that it may deter these nasty creatures.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the results of the straw bales.
Next year, I will increase their numbers and change the configuration. 
These bales will be repurposed as compost bedding around the garden,
as they will most likely be too broken down to use for growing.
Nothing goes to waste!

I noticed yesterday that the morning glories I planted on the sides of the bales
are starting to sprout.
They are going to be used on the arches to shade part of the bales,
so that the sun will not scorch the lettuce and kale.

 This week I was able to harvest a few leeks and share them.
They probably should have been pulled up long before now,
but they still taste mighty fine.
This is a crop that I've had a lot of success with.
The two varieties I have grown are Lincoln and Lancelot.

The sweet potato slips are off to a late start.
I had a hard time finding organic sweet potatoes,
otherwise they would have been started two weeks ago.
Usually the potatoes are placed in a jar or can,
with the bottom 1/4 or so sitting in the water.
I've used toothpicks in the past to suspend them,
but didn't have any on hand.

 Paperclips worked in a pinch.
Soon, these spuds will be sending out leaves and roots.
It would be fantastic to have a mess of these to store.

 A neighbor was throwing out all of this cardboard, 
so you know I helped myself.
This will be the site for the new butterfly garden.
Right now we're killing the grass (YAY!) so that we can fit a few lovelies in here.

There are a few plants ready to be installed once I get the soil in here.
Hopefully, I'll get to that this weekend.
I'm sure I'll need to get a few more plants,
(no hardship),
but the beautyberry I purchased really needs to be planted.
I can't wait to see the butterflies and caterpillars enjoying this spot.
Pollinators of all kinds will likely find it appealing.

Our magnolia tree is loaded with buds.
Here's the first bloom I spied.

 A few of our neighbors have peonies planted.
They are so amazing!
I might have to snag me some of these 
and find space for them.

The humble clematis is slowly climbing the lattice on the back deck.
I think it would be much happier with more sun,
so it may get moved before long.

So many tasks to complete!
It's a blessing to be a busy gardener.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Loofah Project

The local Community Garden group provides
many opportunities to participate in volunteer projects.
About a week ago, several of us gathered to work on
processing loofahs that had been harvested last season.
As new Master Gardeners, 
we are required to fulfill 40 hours of volunteer service.
This was an enjoyable way to meet some of the requirements 
and learn something new to boot!

 The loofahs are grown from seed at the Community Garden site in Denver, NC.
They had been dried on the vines and then harvested.
These gourds grow profusely during the hot months,
so it's a fabulous crop to try, when not much else will tolerate the heat.
(They can actually be eaten, much like zucchini,
when they are harvested while still small and soft.)
Of course, you know I want to give 'em a go,
so I have seeds soaking right now to begin the process.

Here are the handful of tools we used to make the procedure more efficient:
 gloves, saws and any long-shafted tool.

The ends of the gourds are sawn off.
If they are properly dried, this should be a breeze.

Insert any type of long rod-shaped device into the chambers
of the loofahs and move back and forth,
freeing the seeds inside.
We used a plastic bin to capture the seeds.
These can be saved to sow your next crop!
Black seeds have been shown to have better germination 
than the white seeds, and fortunately, there were plenty to be found.

The outer skin is peeled using several techniques.
To loosen the skin, the gourds can be rolled on a tabletop,
or struck with a rolling pin or large stick.
By just using your hands, they can be kneaded, until you can see the fibers breaking down.
Once the outer skin is cracked, it is much easier to start the peeling process.
Gloves are recommended during the peeling stage,
but I found it easier to work with bare hands.

The loofahs make quite a startling transformation!

We took turns at each task, and in no time, the project was completed.

The husks were then composted,

and the seeds saved for this season's planting.

One of the members of our team took the collection home
to soak them in a diluted bleach solution.
After rinsing several times, they will be ready to use.
The plan is to use them as a fundraiser for the Community Garden.
We hope to bring you a story on the unique gift item created with these fascinating gourds.

It was a good morning's work 
and the perfect excuse to network with other gardeners.
I can hardly wait to see what the next project is!

 find it here

Friday, May 11, 2018

Garden Friday

Welcome back to Garden Friday!
We've got a lot of catching up to do,
as each day fills up with gardening tasks.
Don't think I'm complaining one bit!
Here's an update on some of our goings on this week.

Richard at PC Mulch hooked us up with some black gold.
With a borrowed trailer (thank you sweet friends), 
we made our way to PC Mulch,
just down the road from our home here in Pumpkin Center.
Taking two trips, we managed to pick up 2 yards
of some gorgeous compost, perfect for growing our veggies
as well as amending all of the beds in the front of the house.
It was like Christmas morning, I tell ya!
Big K went with me to pick it up
and I was about as happy as a daisy in the dirt could be!
Of course, the next two weeks will be busy
filling up beds, containers, and new garden zones.

On my daily walk,
I pass so many beautiful flowers and ground covers.
It's no wonder I feel so much better by the time I make my way back.
God's bounty is always present.

 A friendly neighbor whom I've been helping in the garden,
was kind enough to gift me with this stack of bricks.
They will be used to make the border
for our new butterfly bed.

The veggie garden is growing every week!
I recently added the two raised beds to the straw bale area,
as well as placing arches between a couple of the bales.
(I'll post more about the latter project next week.) 
Tomatoes will sit to the left of these two boxes,
and I hope to add a couple of more raised beds as well.

I've been pretty happy with the progress of the straw bales.
The transplants are all doing well,
with very little care.

 We're using our bargain soaker hoses to water daily.

 The pots sitting between the bales are also starting to take off.
Here, Buttercrunch and Red Salad Bowl lettuces
share space with Sugar Snap Peas.

 It looks as if I can cross lettuce and kale off of my weekly grocery list,
as there is enough to harvest for my daily salad.



 The melons are starting to get their true sets of leaves,
so we are on the right track.
I'm hoping the melon vines will cascade down the bales.
Another option would be to trellis them.
I have time to figure out what I want to do with them.
It's the first time I've grown watermelon,
so it's all one big experiment!

 The straw bales are watered daily
(it's been unseasonably warm here),
and fertilized with Mighty Grow every 4 weeks.
I think we're on to something!

Ready for harvest!


Tomatoes, eggplant, beans, parsley, thyme, one lone broccoli
and a few odds and ends sit on the deck,
awaiting their turn to be transplanted.
This shady spot has been a blessing for seed starting.
I'm hoping that by next year,
I can build some sort of table or repurpose some shelving
 so that the containers can be a bit easier to access.

Feed sacks are being used to kill the grass in this spot,
so that I can transplant some strawberries here.
My generous friend Jannah
(who's garden we featured here),
is always sharing her bounty with others.

It's wonderful to be able to start each day with a walk,
and now that the sun is up earlier, I can get it done sooner.
There is one other walker that I often see out and about,
and he was kind enough to allow me to share a few images from his property.

 Joe and Jessie live just a block over,
and their homestead is so appealing.
Would you just look at this clematis next to their front porch?
I couldn't even count all the buds getting ready to open!

Here's another stunner they have planted out front.
Jessie wasn't sure of the name,
but this plant is loaded with gorgeous golden blooms.

I've saved the best for last.
Wait for it...


This is the wood pile behind their house.
I marvel at the sheer beauty of it every time I pass by.
It's a work of art, don't you agree?

Joe cuts the wood himself and sells it to neighbors. 
He also does lawn work for several clients right here in the neighborhood.

It is stacked in this way so that air can flow through the pile,
keeping the wood dry and ready to use.
Brilliant, right?
As you may have guessed, Joe is a stickler for doing things right.
The world sure needs plenty of that.

What a blessing to have such conscientious and hard-working neighbors.