Posts Tagged ‘Garden Tower Project’

Lush

Just a few garden pix today, plus a reminder. If you missed spring and summer planting, you still have time to plant cool weather crops like spinach, lettuce, mustard and bok choy. I started some inside today to replace lettuce and spinach that already bolted.

The Garden Tower 2 continues to produce loads of greens.

A few varieties of lettuce remain, and I need to harvest the New Kuroda carrots to see how well these shorties grew. I knew I wouldn’t have room for long carrots, but tried these as an experiment in the shallow top. Most of the tower filled in with collards, kale, basil, nasturtium, and chard.

Red hot poker compliments the Garden Tower 2:

As the orange daylilies fade away, echinacea (purple coneflower) and hyssop bloom in the same pot. The bees approve!

Plant Nannies and Today’s Garden

Some quick photos from this morning’s garden show the strategic use of “plant nannies.” I wrote about plant nannies in a 2018 post called “Edible Landscaping Secrets,” and I still recommend them for the Garden Tower Project and any plants that need more water than their neighbors. You can use mineral water bottles or wine bottles — anything with a long enough neck to fit in the terra cotta spike that digs into the soil. The terra cotta slowly releases water if the nearby soil dries out. If the soil’s moist, the water stays in the bottle until needed.

I scatter the plant nannies around the Garden Tower. Otherwise, I find the soil dries out by late afternoon’s scorching temps. With the nannies, I can go longer between waterings, and my plants feel less stressed and therefore healthier. These photos also show the (unzipped) mesh cage and rabbit fencing around the base. Yes, that’s volunteer lettuce in the patio cracks!

I have heavily harvested this Garden Tower for months, and it shows plants of varying degrees of growth. I recently removed the now bolted spinach and replaced that with carrots, rainbow chard and zinnias. Those are the holes with less growth.

We’ve had weather in the 80’s and 90’s for weeks, which would normally make all this lettuce bolt. I’ve found I can harvest the heads “too much” if I know it will be close to 90. That robs the plants of enough energy to shift from leaves to flowers and seeds. When it cools a bit, I let the leaves grow again. I’ve lost track of how many giant salads David and I have made from the Garden Tower. So fresh — and critter free! The mesh cage also keeps cabbage moths off my kale and collards. 🙂

Some other shots from today… It’s officially “Orange Season” here — David’s favorite color!

Wishing you a beautiful day!

Early Spring Garden

Bright colors and cool, rainy temps look and feel like early Spring! Some shots from Dra’Faven:

hyacinths, weeping cherry and forsythia precede chive and daffodil blooms
hellebores and holly
dianthus and vinca
seeds sprouting indoors and outside …
Garden Tower planted on one side with cool weather greens
The spinach has doubled in size since Sunday!

It felt so good to get my hands in the dirt again. I started a bunch of seeds at the New Moon and then couldn’t resist filling 1/4 of the Garden Tower with lettuce and spinach starts. I also direct seeded gourmet lettuce and carrots in the top of the Garden Tower, as well as in the front yard beds, among hyacinths, green onions and chives.

I have yet to harvest, but gardening season has officially begun! How are things growing in your corner of the world?

Happy Lammas!

Today marks the official crossquarter day of Lammas or Lughnasadh, when the Sun reaches 15 degrees Leo. It’s the first of three harvest festivals (Fall Equinox and Samhain/Halloween) —  and a good time to count your blessings. I’ve just had a full morning harvesting and tending the garden. I love this late Summer time of butterflies, bees, fresh tomatoes, cosmos and hummingbird mint. Here are some shots from today’s garden:

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Robinhood roses in fragrant bloom

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Casablanca lilies

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hummingbird mint, orange zinnias and coreopsis

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Garden Tower 2 with newly installed plant nannies

As lettuce went to seed, I converted some of those pockets to plant nannies with Pellegrino bottles filled with hose water. I’d wondered if this would cut down on my watering time, and indeed, it has! The lower pockets stay as moist as the upper ones, now, which means less frequent watering and happier plants.

So grateful for a very productive and flowering garden this year, for all the magical bird sightings in our yard, and for the new (free!) iPhone 11 with the huge camera upgrade. I’m still learning to resize photos so I don’t overwhelm my WordPress storage or slow down site loading too much. Meanwhile, between that and newly installed fiber optic lines to the house, it feels like a new Universe coming into being.

Blessed Be, and be the blessing!

Hair and Garden Update

Whew, it’s hot and HUMID here in Michigan! Here’s a little photo update of the garden in mid-late Summer. This tends to be a time of fewer blooms. The trick is regular deadheading (popping off the spent flowers). Many plants will rebloom to complement new bloomers like hummingbird mint, hibiscus, hostas, echinacea and cosmos. Before long, it will be aster and mum season.

The garden continues to yield more produce for less work, so I’m liking that! Between massive amounts of greens from the enclosed Garden Tower 2 and cucumbers, squash, herbs, banana peppers, carrots and eggplant in the open beds, every day brings a sizable harvest. It’s not the over-abundance I used to need to deal with while quasi-farming in Goshen: rather, a steady supply of fresh flavors and nutrients.

Some photos from today:

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dinner plate hibiscus

 

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Garden Tower 2 Update

For those wondering how the Garden Tower 2‘s producing, here’s a photo series taken from each side. I rotate it daily or every other day. You can see some sides have more growth. Those would be the days I didn’t rotate so those plants got more southern exposure. This is a heavily harvested tower and still producing. I made a huge batch of pesto last weekend, mostly from the tower, and it looks like this weekend will be pesto time again.

Turning the tower seems to have kept most of my lettuce from bolting even in our many days of 90+ degree heat. As long as the tender greens get periodic afternoon shade, they seem to think it’s still earlier in the season. I can’t believe how much produce I’m getting from 4 square feet of space!

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So far so good with the fencing and mesh cage. A groundhog sniffed around and tried to figure out how to break in, but the 2 foot metal fencing and gate around the bottom are just high and wobbly enough that it gave up after just one “window warning” (opened and slammed shut).

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The other advantage so far is that the white cabbage moths can’t fit through the mesh to lay eggs on my kale. Major score! Usually by this time of year, those little green caterpillars do major damage or it becomes a near full time job picking off the eggs. It felt soooo satisfying yesterday to watch a moth try to enter from every angle and eventually move onto sipping catmint flowers. 🙂

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Now …. if we can just get the groundhog to move out of our shed. I had enough extra kale to give my neighbor a bunch when she dropped off a bucket of used kitty litter to drop down the new burrow. Fun times! She said, “I’m trying to wrap my head around this. I’m leaving a bucket of used kitty litter on neighbor’s porch — and I like her.” Always an adventure, even with plenty of yummies.

I also need to figure out how to prop up the dwarf tomato plant without ripping the mesh sides or ceiling. Even with pruning, it’s getting too big to rotate without hitting the top or sides.

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Overall, this garden season feels much more fun than past years in Kalamazoo. The front yard is mostly herbs, flowers, hot peppers, cucumbers and eggplant, but so far so good even there for lettuce. The front yard beds get afternoon shade, and the cucumber vines now shade the lettuce even in the sunniest parts of the day.

The weirdest thing is that something — I think a deer — is leaving all my edibles alone but decimating my “critter resistant” large sedum and one other plant that I only purchased due to its resistance. I forget the name now, but it starts with an “a” and it’s totally gone. I’ll take it, though. If something wants to concentrate on non-edibles that I only planted so I’d for sure have plants there even if an animal ate my more prized items, I’ll play along. Munch away … far, far away from the things I want to eat. 🙂

Garden and Portal Update

I’m busy with sessions and painting portal number 22, then need to work on July’s North Node Horoscopes. I painted and coded the back and hope to finish this mini “door” sometime this week. Meanwhile, the garden continues to bloom and produce, which makes a garden update the easiest blog post available. I thought I’d share this mix of herbs, edibles and flowers in back and front yards. Enjoy!

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First lily of the season!

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Love in a Mist, marigolds and just-about-to-flower purple kale

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Purple bok choy, marigolds, chard, and chamomile

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Magenta yarrow

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floppy chamomile leaning against an evergreen for support

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Robinhood rose by the back patio

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Groundhog proof Garden Tower 2

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Clematis on the shed

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foxglove by the back patio

 

Garden Update ~ Garden Tower 2 Setup and Spring Planting

I haven’t posted a Garden Update in a long time, so I decided to document the assembly of our upgraded Garden Tower 2. I had this in Goshen as part of a demo garden showcasing different ways of growing crops — permaculture, raised beds, Garden Towers 1 and 2, Square Foot Gardening, tiered/circular raised beds, Big Bag Beds, Smart Pots, wood mulch gardening, food forest, etc. I had not set up the Garden Tower 2 in Kalamazoo, though, because doing so required me figuring out where to put it, building a patio, and also fencing it in from critters.

I’ve detailed three years of groundhog adventureshere — from Kalamazoo Kal to all his very hungry relations. Last year, I switched the front yard beds primarily to rabbit/deer/groundhog resistant herbs and perennials and had all but given up on annual vegetable gardening. It’s just too frustrating to fight all the critters. Our fenced backyard is even worse than the open front yard, as the groundhogs have generations of tunnels and ancestral habits.

A dream on April 4, 2020 told me that my future self would really appreciate if I assembled the Garden Tower 2 that lay unassembled in our shed. I followed the advice, ordered seeds, got everything needed for assembly, only to learn that that weekend was the last time I could have done so prior to Michigan’s Governor declaring gardening “non-essential” and making it illegal to buy what I’d need. Score one, Dream Guys! A “mix-up” led to me ordering some extra parts for the GT2, and we ended up with an extra tier. For me, this changes the entire aesthetic of the GT2, and I love it so much more now. I don’t know why that one extra layer makes its form so much more appealing, but it does.

In any case, David and I spent a long Memorial Day weekend celebrating my birthday, going on wooded walks and drives, building a patio, and setting up and planting the Garden Tower 2. For anyone interested in the process, we documented some of the highlights.

The “Before” space, slightly in process, since I forgot to take a Before photo! This required moving three Smart Pots to the other side of this existing raised bed. Moving those turned out way easier than anticipated. In the photo below, you can see the patio blocks before digging out and leveling the ground. We’ve got the base of the GT2 there for reference, to see where we wanted this rotating tower:

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Garden Update ~ Butterflies, Blooms, Garden Tower Project and More

People keep asking me, “How was your garden this year?”

To which I reply, “It was good, but it’s still growing.” Although I have moments when I think I’d feel fine to have everything tucked away for winter, fall is really one of my favorite times in the garden. It’s butterfly season, for one, and even with those thousand bulbs I planted last year for this year’s spring, we still have more blooms in September than we do in April or May. Here are this week’s photos:

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Last Sunday’s bouquet for David’s mom.

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So many butterflies this year! Here’s one of several at a time that like to sip from red zinnias.

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The cushaw squash continue to grow. This one is about twice the size of the other one. I accidentally cut off two babies while trying to tame the vine, but these should be plenty! Last year I needed to give away three giants.

The Garden Tower put on another rush of growth. We now have so many ripe eggplants we’ll need to make baba ganoush. Oh, the sacrifice!

Not visible in the photos are some tiny spinach, broccolini and cilantro sprouts started for a late season harvest. Something ate a few of them, but we should still get some yummies.

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The scabrosa rose is blooming and making its trademark large, tasty hips.

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Haus Am See’s herb spiral and asparagus hedge continue to fill in.

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We’ve got cosmos galore.

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Welcome to my jungle!

Neighborhood Food Fascism and What You Can Do About It

I received this link from both Natural News and my outraged mom, and I thought I’d share what I wrote to her, plus a couple additions. Here’s the original outrageous story: “Watch out: Florida residents being fined for growing vegetables on their own property.”

My response to my mom:

That is why we are purposely avoiding HOA’s when looking for a place, and also insisting it has a sunny backyard. I will grow edibles up front, but they will be stealth, like fruit trees and edible flowers and herbs.

In Goshen, I fought very hard to have it included in our City Plan from 2014-2024 to encourage front yard gardens instead of lawns and to protect the rights of people trying to live off-grid. Florida and California are the worst in terms of code enforcement. They have forced people back onto the electric and water grid even if they are self sufficient. There is a war going on against self-sufficiency. You really need to do it in a stealth way. Despite that being the most sustainable way of living, the “sustainability” movement has been co-opted by mega corporations and masquerades around towns and cities posing as a good idea.

It was a huge project of mine for Goshen (rather thankless, but I succeeded) in 2014 to protect the city from what I saw coming down the pipeline. Countless hours of meetings under fluorescent lights, emails, prayer, chanting, energy work, behind the scenes conversations, making a stink to enough people and finally painting a magical portal door did the trick. Our plan is very unusual, and it turns out we influenced the national level, because I befriended someone giving a speech there, and she used most of my ideas in her speech. Other city planners liked what she said, so this top-down movement got a bottom-up shakeup.

Additional thoughts:

Sometimes, this is what it takes. We can model change in many ways — both in our yards and in using our informed abilities to influence the system in peaceful, creative, yet very firm ways. I would not take “no” for an answer on this thinly veiled Agenda 21 scheme, and when no one believed me, I just went subterranean and let the portal door do the trick. It worked.

If you decide you’d like to plant a front yard veggie garden, I highly recommend the following resources, since a beautiful garden with ornamental edibles often gets overlooked as a veggie garden in the first place. Don’t become an eyesore, and you’ll likely avoid getting onto the grouchy neighbor radar in the first place … but it IS worth keeping tabs on local legislation or codes, because that’s how they take away the basic human right to grow and harvest our own food, free of chemical additives, GMO’s, excessive transport, pesticides and depleted soil. Anyway, some resources, including on this blog:

Foodscaping: Practical and Innovative Ways to Create an Edible Landscape

Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat

The Backyard Homestead: Produce All the Food You Need on Just a Quarter Acre

Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition

The Permaculture City: Regenerative Design for Urban, Suburban and Town Resilience

I have not read “Permaculture City” yet, but it is on my list and seems like essential reading for people who don’t happen to live in a Transition Town where these sorts of discussions already occur. Since neighbors and voting citizens can end up influencing discussions and codes, it helps to know what’s possible and to get a vocal group on board.

I have written a ton on gardening; however, here are some links to address various other challenges with growing your own food:

Troubleshooting in the Garden: Some Tips

Why You’ll Want a Garden This Year

Corbett Report ~ Solutions: Guerrilla Gardening

Growing Your Own Food is a Powerful Metaphor for Your Life

Sarah Anne Lawless ~ Rewilding Realities in Small Towns

The Druid’s Garden ~ Soil Regeneration and Land Reclamation: Creating a Sheet Mulch Bed from Seedy Garden Weeds

The Druid’s Garden ~ Lawn Regeneration: Return to Nature’s Harvest Permaculture Farm

This last link shares an inspiring story of how a front yard permaculture farm built tremendous community, generated healing, and provided huge amounts of food. Ideally, we can each model such possibilities in our own locations, in our own ways. Healthy soil = healthy plants, so begin there. Healthy plants always look a lot better than sick ones, and beauty feeds the soul, as well as the body. That book “Foodscaping” includes an extensive list of vegetable varieties that look so beautiful most non-gardeners would not know they were food. Stealth edibles and abundant food can change the world, one yard, patio or deck at a time.

Big blessings!