Garden Success: Lettuce

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

So I am declaring my lettuce in crates a success.  Right now we have more salad than we can eat and is mild enough for my picky taste buds.  Growing greens in potting soil definitely makes a huge improvement on the taste, plus I can move the crates farther into the shade as the spring progresses.

I planted a total of three wood crates and three smaller pails with lettuce and some spinach as well.  Next year I would like to get them planted earlier, but I am happy I finally found a good way to grow my own greens.

Grow Write Guild: Listen

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I am often out in the garden in the evening after work.  When I stop and listen, the first sound I hear is the soft coos of doves.  I can also hear the different calls of the quails as they are out feeding.  They sound like they are talking to each other.  My love of quail has been slightly damaged by the fact that they refuse to let me get a crop of peas this year.  But back to the sounds... I also hear various other chirpings from robins and starlings and those little brown birds, but it all blurs together and just sounds like "birds" to my ear.  If I listen long enough I hear the red wing black birds and the meadow larks, but they are usually farther from the house.  The meadow lark call is my favorite herald of spring and I never tire of hearing it.  The other bird sound in the garden is the drilling of flickers or woodpeckers on basically anything that happens to be close by.  My favorite is when they drill the aluminum hand-lines.  It takes a bit before you realize a bird is making that machine-gun like sound. 

The second dominate sound to reach my ears is irrigation.  I can hear the chinking of impact sprinklers which to me is the ultimate sound of summer in the Columbia Basin.  Careful listening distinguishes the hum of the circle moving and that soft sound made when the water hits the ground.  I can also hear the neighbors pump whining in the background.

This post is written in response to the writing prompt found here by You Grow Girl as part of the Grow Write Guild.

Book Review: The Beautiful Edible Garden

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Beautiful Edible Garden by Lesle Bennett and Stefani Bittner is a beautiful book.  It starts out with basic design principles and expands them as they relate to planning an edible garden including factors such as harvest frequency and inter-cropping.  There are idea palettes for different garden styles including, Mediterranean, Woodland, Urban Modern and more.  The authors outline five basic steps for creating a beautiful edible garden.  Step one covers hardscape, step two discusses focal points, step three directs you in positioning anchor plants, step four is adding all the other plants and step five is about ground covers.  There are also guidelines for caring for your garden organically.  To be honest, I didn't not read all of the text in the book, the pictures were so lovely that they distracted me completely.  I took notes off the photographs rather than the print.  These ladies are clearly gifted in creating beautiful gardens.  The color and texture combinations were inspiring.  They truly accomplished a beautiful edible garden.  Just be prepared for zone envy as they garden in San Francisco, CA.

Note: My book review posts are all books I have checked out from the library unless otherwise noted.

Tomatoes in the ground

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spring has hit us with some late frosts this year.  I finally got all my tomatoes in the ground May 1st.  I had the cherry tomatoes planted the week earlier since they had long out-grown their 4 inch pots, but I waited on the smaller Roma's and a few others until we had a clear forecast.  I started my tomato seeds indoors on March 6th which was too early, I think.  Next year I will wait until the middle or end of March. 

Tomato map 2013

This year I have my tomatoes planted against 9 cattle panels with 8 tomatoes per panel.  We redid the drip irrigation with PVC between the plastic lines for more stability and easier winter storage. On April 30th we had a killing frost.  I covered all the tomatoes with jugs and burlap, but I lost two Sun Cherries because their covers blew off. That brings my total number of tomato plants to 69.

Book Review: Tree and Shrub Finder

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

 The tree and shrub finder : choosing the best plants for your yard

 The book titled "The Tree and Shrub Finder" by Robert Kourik is full of useful information.  I was especially interested in the information on siting trees in your landscape.  It gives instructions on the best locations for placing trees to block both wind and light.  According to this book the most important areas of your house to shade are the NW and SW corners.  There is also a no tree zone suggested to the northern angle of the house.  There are drawings illustrating this principle in with very precise angles and guidelines.  Another thing I found interesting was the charts with the percentage of shade cast by trees in the summer and then in the winter.  Some deciduous trees still cast a large percentage of shade during the winter, which was something I did not know.  The chapter that talked about tree roots was very interesting as well.  There were several illustrations of what tree roots actually look like in various situations.  I had never realized that the majority of a trees roots are in the top 1 to 2 ft of soil and can spread up to five times wider than the tree's crown.  This book offers great suggestions for specific tree varieties to fit the specifications of almost any situation.  As a bonus there are also clear instructions and diagrams for planting, watering and pruning a tree.