Posts Tagged ‘Gardening’

Garden Update ~ “Just the Right Amount of Too Much”

Today’s garden post comes to you courtesy of 86°F and 68% humidity Kalamazoo. Pretty sticky, but plants love it even if the gardener doesn’t!

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, noting only that the backyard spontaneous trellising continues. I have beans and cucumbers coiling around everything from trellises to sunflowers to amaranth to tomato cages. It’s messy, but somehow works.

I feel guilty pleasure watching all those white cabbage moths trying soooo hard to get inside that mesh cage and decimate my Garden Tower’s brassicas with eggs and caterpillars. For some reason, this makes me smile as much as having so much produce growing in a tiny footprint.

The front yard looks equally lush and crazy:

This purple kale dwarfs some of our shrubs:

Looking towards the garage …

… and towards the house:

I’m also happy these black eyed Susan’s by the mailbox bloomed in their first year. I didn’t expect flowers until next year.

You can see how dry the grass is due to these hot and humid days. We don’t worry too much about that, as grass is a totally unproductive crop unless you farm sheep and cattle. 🙂

For anyone who feels sad that they missed the boat on this year’s garden: you still have time to plant for Fall in the Northern Hemisphere. I seeded some Giant Noble Spinach yesterday and plan to do so again in a couple weeks. I’ve also got new edamame plants sprouting up from a week or so ago. Come mid-August, I plan to seed more arugula, some super-cold-hardy lettuce varieties, and sugar snap peas. I’ve got several heads of purple cabbage trying to deal with the heat because I seeded those a few weeks too soon.

Oops! Even longer term gardeners make mistakes. That’s the beauty of gardening. If you mess up, you can start again. Not everything produces or even lives, but if you seed and plant a wide variety of crops, SOMETHING will thrive. If you’re a lazy gardener like me (yes, really, I am!), you’ll never need to start cilantro, miner’s lettuce, or parsley again. Just allow them to re-seed. Add in a bunch of perennial herbs, bulbs and flowers, and you can have a full garden year after year without anywhere near the effort it looks like you made. 🙂

More Signs of Spring

The winds of change are blowing strong, and early flowers bob and whirl their colors around the yard. Here are a few recent photos, including hints of cherry blossoms, hellebores (thank you, Karen!), early giant hyacinths, Siberian squill, forsythia and the first daffodil to bloom. Enjoy!

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Siberian squill

Many seeds I planted outside on Spring Equinox finally have sprouts. I also started some less hardy crops indoors on the weekend. They’re sprouting, too. In these early days of Spring little signs of life inspire faith in those larger winds of change. All these flowers also feed early pollinators in search of a yard. 🙂

It’s Not Too Soon to Plan Your Garden …

Just a little garden inspiration for people who’ve never gardened before or have only a small space to grow vegetables. Whether a potted tomato on your patio, or a mini herb garden, even the tiniest amount of homegrown food fills you with flavor and a sense of real accomplishment. Getting your hands in the dirt is one of the fastest and easiest ways to improve your mood and raise your vibration.

It always helps to brainstorm a garden before planting it. You’ll save money, time, and have much more success with at least a little planning. Yes, there’s room for spontaneous additions, but spend some preemptive time observing your intended site(s) and gathering seeds and other supplies.

BBC Gardener of the Decade Katherine Crouch packs so many tips into this one video. I’ve intensively gardened for over a decade, and I learned a bunch in 20 minutes:

I’ve used Big Bag Beds and Smart Pots for at least five years. I like these for perennials, as well as annuals. You do need to water more frequently than an in ground garden, but the aerated roots produce healthy, robust plants. You can also work around existing landscaping and/or poor soil, just plunking a raised bed on a reasonably level surface with good light.

existing garden plus newly added Big Bag Beds and Smart Pots

This next video covers five different crops you can grow in under a month:

I’ve blogged for many years about the Garden Tower Project and Garden Tower 2.

I can’t believe how much produce I’ve harvested from the GT2 the last couple years. I especially love growing carrots and lettuce on the top — no bunnies munching up there! I’ve also grown several basil’s next to a dwarf tomato plant a couple years. Another year, I grew bush beans and kale up top.

If you live somewhere with garden munchers, a mesh cage and low metal fencing keeps out the larger critters AND the cabbage moths. You just need to be careful you don’t accidentally leave a moth in there if it sneaks in while you’re harvesting. In that case, you’ll need to diligently pick off those black eggs on any kale or collard plants, so you don’t get an enclosed infestation. Once you clear out the eggs, you’ll have a moth free garden again. The mesh is large enough for bumblebees to climb through, but it keeps out many aerial pests.

Garden Tower 2

Over the years, I’ve adapted how I use the Tower. I use plant nannies and scatter several Pellegrino bottles (filled with regular water, not the fizzy stuff!) throughout the pockets. This eases some of the watering frequency during long, hot or windy days. It also allows me to go on a short vacation without worrying that my plants will die. The GT2 is an amazing way to grow a lot of plants in about a 4’x4′ (or less) space, but so many plants in so little soil do require more water than a traditional raised bed would. Extra rich compost also aids moisture retention.

If I grow taller plants on the top, I use the compost tube and worm setup. When I grew lettuce up top last year, I decided not to use the compost tube so as not to contaminate my lettuce by pouring rotting food scraps and eggshells right over it. Had I thought of this issue ahead of time, I would have only planted the lettuce on the outer edge. If you don’t do use the compost tube and worms as originally designed, then you’ll need to add compost and/or organic fertilizer a few times throughout the season. The worms work well, but with all the groundhogs and bunnies, I LOVED having a large tray of lettuce and carrots out of their reach. I have other compost bins, so it made sense to prioritize the lettuce.

For those people who want to garden because they’re concerned about our crazy external world, here are the 15 fastest growing survival veggies to grow in a crisis. He offers great information, but also has such lovely energy and a positive attitude:

For seeds, I like Baker Creek Seeds, which offers a wide variety of heirloom and organic seeds. A lot of farmers markets and local co-ops also offer plant starts, which can help you fast track your garden. I use a mixture of direct seeding, starting seeds indoors, as well as purchasing plant starts from farmers or stores. There’s no shame in letting more experienced gardeners begin the process for you, especially if that makes the difference between gardening or not gardening!

Garden Tower Project + Face Mask Frames

Last night, I asked my future self in my dreams, “What are you grateful I put into play earlier? What do you wish I had done now?”

As a result, Crazy Plant Lady spent this morning figuring out how to set up our Garden Tower 2 in an animal proof way, since all the critters have made for much smaller scale gardening than I did in Goshen with two fully permacultured yards. I also ordered seeds for crop varieties I’d given up growing due to our many groundhog “friends.” We mostly have perennial herbs, rhubarb, alpine strawberries, aronia, elderberry and blueberry bushes, plus some edible ornamentals scattered among the flowers.

The Garden Tower 2 inside a mesh pop up cage, on top of concrete pavers surrounded by wire fencing, in our fenced backyard should allow me to grow carrots, collards and other goodies normally devoured by rabbits, groundhogs and deer. With some of my crops protected, I can focus attention more on those, and feel relaxed about the other beds planted with more critter resistant varieties.

We have a yard with lots of raised beds, but the Garden Tower 2 allows you to grow 50 plants and compost in a very small space. For those people looking to garden more, here’s a list of my favorite permaculture and edible yard resources.

I also see that The Garden Tower Project is now manufacturing face mask frames for men, women and children. You can add your own filter, bandana, or whatever fabric you have on hand.

I know both Colin Cudmore (inventor of The Garden Tower Project) and his mom, Ann Kreilkamp, but I have no financial connection to these resources. Just sharing here in case anyone else feels led to increase garden yields or make their own face masks. Remember to breathe! As the Hopi say, “This could be a good time.”

September Pretties

It feels like Autumn right now — grey skies, blustery winds … fall clematis, nasturtiums and sedum in bloom. Here’s a little garden beauty to start your week:

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Garden, Groundhog, and Writing Updates

You may have noticed me blogging less this month, and that has a bit to do with increased groundhog patrol and much to do with working to finish my Lyme disease book. The garden took a turn towards Autumn with new mum’s and the tall sedum starting to put on its show:

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The August Garden

Some photos of Dra’Faven’s front yard cottage garden:

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Garden Inspiration and Permaculture Projects

Yesterday, David and I enjoyed an afternoon in Grand Rapids, including our second trip to the Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. We took my mom there back in December 2017, and this time proved different but equally enchanting.

Even more exciting, walking around all those carefully planned gardens gave me some alternative solutions for our yard and neighborhood, which will be going through major changes in the next couple years due to mandatory sewer and possibly sidewalk installation. We’re fighting pretty unanimously to save as many of our neighborhood’s gorgeous, old trees, but in the event we lose to the Township’s dedication to the “Agendas,” yesterday’s creativity inspired some lovely “lemonade” recipes from the Township’s would-be lemons.

It’s all very Uranus in Taurus: major upheaval on the physical level, concern for “the greater good.” The questions remain: what is the greater good, who gets to determine that, and how? I’ll share some photos from Meijer Gardens first, followed by a few of our yard and some of the “problem is the solution” ideas this visit inspired. Even this entryway at Meijer Gardens may change, as we heard people discussing a major planned shift in where people enter the park.

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David included me in the photo for scale:

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Some of the sculptures have a grand presentation, while many others play hide and seek within the landscape and winding pathways. This next sculpture is one of my favorites, called “Espaliered Girl.”

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We heard so many different languages as we wandered around the Japanese Gardens.

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Garden Update ~ And Then There Were Seven

I guess you could say I asked for it. Last Thursday, while planting garlic in the 100-gallon bed on the West side of the shed, I lamented how much the voles have destroyed our grass. Deep gouges swish and swirl around the yard, especially since I threw some extra fritillaria melagris bulbs into the largest holes. I noticed the voles had thrown one out in disgust and appeared to have dug new trenches. Thank goodness I opted for the various styles of grow bags, which so far live up to their reputation as vole resistant.

In the midst of hauling compost from garage to far backyard, I might have wondered where “my” cat went. Did she really only visit our yard to torment Kalamazoo Kal? He hasn’t come by for awhile. Did she follow him to less restricted kale pastures? Did something happen to her? Why do these voles feel so comfortable in our yard? If only they smelled more cat, maybe they’d go the way of Kal. If you wish it, they will come. And come.

Meet the new Vole Patrol:

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Garden Update: Rain! Plus, More Helpers “Reporting for Duty”

After many prayers and much intending, we finally got some deeply needed rain last Thursday and Friday. With so many local trees obviously struggling and very dry, hard ground, I had hoped for a long, gentle rain, and that’s exactly what we received! It rained just enough on Thursday to prepare the ground, and then on Friday, we got a full day into the evening of very slow, misty rain, kind of like nature’s version of a soaker hose. I could feel a collective sigh of relief from all the nearby plants and trees, especially our weeping birch:

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On Thursday evening, I went on a walk around the neighborhood. Upon my return, I spent some time with the birch and asked it to give me a sign if the nearly dead branches (from before we moved in) had any life left in them Continue reading