Sunday, July 3, 2011

The first watermelon harvest



I have been waiting more than two weeks to pick this melon. What a better morning to pick it than on the eve of our nation's independence?
We will enjoy!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tomato Heaven

Sorry for the blogging hiatus. Life has been keeping us rather busy lately. Lunches for the last week or so have consisted of tomato sandwiches.
Persimmon tomatoes

Cherry and grape tomatoes
Tomato and cucumber salad

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bright, bright sunshine-y day


 “If I had a flower for every time I thought of you…I could walk through my garden forever.” ― Alfred Lord Tennyson

 There's a lot of progress happening in the garden right now. Look for updates soon. In the meantime, a little sneak peek of our bush cucumber plants.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fresh from the garden!

Last night, the Mister brought me fresh basil to use in homemade spaghetti sauce. Head over to High-Heeled Love for the recipe.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The garden

I am so excited to see such wonderful growth in the garden. We have been getting a lot of rain, and it has helped with our plants establishing a good root system. I hope that you enjoy the pictures below!

- Planted on 4/24/11, picture taken on 5/11/11 = 18 days -
Everything is doing very well. We have five different tomato varieties, which were gifted to us. They were from seeds purchased through Johny's Seeds. In the photo below, the varieties are listed from left to right. Japanese Black Trifele, Red Grape, Matt's Wild Cherry, Black Cherry and Persimmon. If you will notice in the picture below, the tomatoes were all planted along the back of the garden. I did this in order to get the most sunlight and prevent any shade casting on other plants towards the end of the day.

- five lovely tomato plants -

Aubrey has a new vegetable that she has been cooking and really enjoying. When we visited the Cayce Farmers Market on 4/23/11, we picked up some plants. I asked her if she'd like me to grow her some brussel sprouts? She was so excited, so we picked out some of the Jade cross variety. See the picture below, they appear to be doing very well.

- Jade Cross Brussels sprouts, 18 days -

In the South, everyone loves watermelons. I have many fond memories of when I was little and our family would gather in the living room and eat a large watermelon. Mom would put out newspaper on the living room floor, to catch all of the sweet juice and seeds we would spit out. Dad would be in the kitchen with his big knife, cutting the melon in two. Jenny and I would get a half and Mom and Dad the other. Mom and Dad ate there's by the slice, juice dripping and seeds spitting on the newspaper. Jenny and I preferred to eat our melon using a melon ball tool. I vaguely remember us only having one of these, so it was always a challenge for us to share the coveted tool.

So with such an ingrained memory, how could I resit the desire to try and grow delicious melons for ourselves? I bought and planted four Sugar Baby watermelons, and I really hope that they will do well.

Aubrey and I both love bell peppers, and therefore we will usually grow several varieties. So far, I only have planted one type and that is the Purple beauty. This one was picked up at the All Local Farmers Market from a vendor from Greenville, SC. Below is a photo of the watermelons and the Purple Beauty bell pepper.

- Sugar Baby Watermelons & Purple Beauty Bell Pepper -

Last, I planted a bush crop variety of cucumber. I have never grown cucumbers before, but I have grown squash and I feel that the experience will be somewhat similar. Although the bush variety will be compact I am still going to construct some type of trellis for them to climb on.

- 2 foot diameter area with cucumbers -
Well I hope you enjoyed the little tour of our garden. I will post progress reports as the garden starts to fill in.

Until next time!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Almost there

Saturday morning is looking beautiful. I was up around 8:30, and got myself dressed. I fed the dogs and fixed myself some breakfast. I gathered all of my variously tagged Mother Earth News magazines, graph paper and pencil. I quietly settled into the living room and began making myself notes and a check-list. There were several how-to articles that I had saved, and it was all coming down to this singular moment. I like to think of myself as being well planned and one who "has it together," but let's face it, when it comes down to it, I cram at the last minute. Who doesn't, right?

By the time I am settled and have all of my things spread out on the living room table, Aubrey comes in. I get up to fix her a cup of coffee. When I return, I sit next to her and she looks at what I have done. She can tell that I am a little stumped. She get's up, leaves the room and returns with some colored pencils and a much needed eraser. We discuss what we want to grow and how much space we have, and within minutes, we have planned out our Summer garden.

We have decided on tomatoes, peppers and watermelons. Now that we had the garden planned and our plants picked out, it was time to get ready and head out to the market.

We ride out to the All Local Farmers Market and pick up some soil amendments that I had planned on getting.  We see some familiar faces and make our rounds around and pick up a little bit of produce on the way out.

On our way home, we need to fill up the Prius. This ends up putting us in the same area as the Cayce Farmers Market. Well, we can't just pass up the opportunity to walk through another local farmers market. Once we get out and walk around, we both hear a rooster and sure enough, there was not one, but two roosters strutting their stuff about. We walk around some and check out the vegetable garden plants and decide that we will pick up some things. We get some Brussel Sprouts, Cucumbers and some watemelons. This will obviously change our plans to the garden we sketched out earlier, but that's just what happens on a wonderful Saturday morning. On our check out at the register, we grab a couple cold drinks. Aubrey gets an A&W Cream Soda and I get a Blenheim Ginger Ale and we proceed back to the house.

So, am I ever going to get this garden planted? Not yet it seems, I still need to amend the soil in the garden. I had picked up some nice cured cow manure from my dads before hand, plus some of my home made compost. My plan was to layer the manure and dirt, then finish it off with some compost and a final layer of soil. So how do you do this without a tiller? You dig of course...in the overhead sun with a shovel for about an hour, or that's at least how I did it. This only consisted of me digging the whole garden up! 18 inches deep in fact. I know what your thinking, "Dude, that's just crazy monkey style, what are you thinking?" Hey, what can I say, that's just what a David does.

- 4' x 7' 18 inches deep -
- AFTER -

Until next time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Rose by Any Other Name...

“Then the Spring came, and all over the country there were little blossoms and little birds.” ― Oscar Wilde
 
 I love this time of year because everything is blossoming. Yesterday, David brought in a vase of roses picked from our backyard. We don't do much with our rose bushes, but that doesn't stop these Don Juan beauties from flourishing every year.

Anybody else have a favorite rose?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Something noticed...Something heard

Over the weekend, Aubrey and I spent some time out in our backyard. One of the things that I have been trying to be very conscious about as of lately, are the sights and sounds.

In the book Organic Gardening by Maria Rodale, she proposes that the reader perform an exercise.  

"Go outside and let yourself be drawn to a spot in your yard - preferably one that you don't sit in...after you have made yourself fairly comfortable, sit for an hour. Then, go through a rundown of all of your sensory perceptions and see what they tell you."
- A peaceful retreat -
We didn't exactly do this, but what we did do was take notice of all that we heard. We live near an airport, so planes flying overhead are an occasional sound. We are not far from a rock quarry, so we are limited to distant train noises in the evening.

But the best sounds by far, that we both noticed, were the vast amount of birds in our backyard. As a bonus, this also applies to our neighborhood during our walks. We have a bird bath, and if we weren't too close, we could spy a Robin or Brown Thrasher taking a bath. We have Northern Cardinals and Blue Jays as well. It was very soothing and it has started an interest in both of us to begin birdwatching in our backyard and hopefully elsewhere.
- Robin -

- Brown Thrasher -
- Northern Cardinal -

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cleaning up and a nice surprise

So, last Sunday was spent cleaning up a flower bed along the back of our house that was full of weeds and leaves from this past winter. It needed some good attention from me. I pulled weeds, raked out old debris, more or less just straightening things up so it would look more to my liking.

Once the cleaning was done, I could tell that something was missing. I have been adding brick borders to things lately and this flower bed needed one. I was able to do this from some randomly collected bricks from around the yard. I have to say, I am very happy with the end result. I finished things off with a nice layer of fresh cedar mulch.
- Finished flower bed -

 This flower bed is home to the Purple Iris. I just learned that Iris takes it's name from the Greek word for rainbow, refering to the wide variety of flower colors found among the species.

So to my surprise the other morning, I walked out into the backyard to look at the flower bed, and there was a beautiful Iris in full bloom.

- Beautiful Iris -
Well, I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did.  Get outside and explore your back yard, get your hands in some dirt, rake some leaves, pull some weeds. It sure can be rewarding and can be a wonderful adventure.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Old earth turned

So, after gathering all of my yard tools and going over my plan, it was time to dig, so I started by removing the brick perimeter in order to make room for the tiller. Now with gloved hands, it was time to crank this thing up.

I had never used a tiller before, but I had seen it done several times before, so I wasn't too concerned.

-Time to make room for tilling-
-All tilled up-
I have to say that after I finished,  I was very happy with how everything turned out. I have talked with Aubrey about what she would like for us to grow. We are thinking about several types of tomatoes, some bell pepper variaties, jalapeno peppers and maybe some watermelon. I would like to try some pole beans, but we'll see.

Once I figure out what we will grow, I will share the names and kinds of vegetables that we have settled on.

So here is the finished garden bed. I am very happy with how it turned out and look forward to planting, mulching and figuring out an irrigation set up. I've got lots of ideas for all of this.

- The finished garden -

It looks like the Easter bunny came early

He left us five varieties of tomato plants and a pot of rosemary. They were just sitting on the front steps when I got home from work.
It looks like we'll have plenty of tomato sandwiches this summer. Yum!

What are you growing in your garden this year?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The joys of preparation

So, Saturday was a very exciting day, and it all started with a cup of coffee for Aubrey and a walk with my dogs.

Paige
Gracie




































































































After the walk, I returned to the house to meet up with a neighbor Dan, who graciously loans me much of the yard tools that I use through out the year. I borrowed his tiller so that I could make quick time of turning the garden from last year. Once we put the tiller in the backyard, we walked around and looked at various trees and bushes that are beginning to bloom.

With that done, it was time for Aubrey and I to head to the All Local Farmers Market to see what kind of local goods we could find.

We had a good time and found some goodies to take back home, including some hand made truffles from my good friend Joseph. He runs a business called It's The Chocolate Shop, and the money he made that day was being donated to a local charity for the disaster relief in Japan. How cool is that?

I grabbed a bag of calcium additive to mix into the garden from Swansea Milling Co.,which I mentioned in my first post. On our way home, we made a quick stop at Dan & Jennie's so we could share the scrumptious blueberry-lemon streusel bread that we picked up. We love to drink coffee with them and hang out and talk. But once I was done with a few bites and my cup of coffee, it was "goodbye!" and away I went to get started in the yard. I mean seriously, isn't that why your reading this? Enough with the tangents and off to the garden preparations.

So as you can see below here, he garden was covered up over winter with pine needles, and weeds had all but taken it over. I was so ready to turn this into a clean slate. But that's going to wait until the next post. Sorry, but I've got to give you a reason to come back, right?

garden left over from last year

Until then,
David

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Biophilia

"The human desire to spend time outdoors among plants and trees. Doing so can reduce stress, lengthen your attention span and possibly help you live longer. "

Source: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 


That sounds like a pretty accurate description of my husband.
-Aubrey

Friday, March 18, 2011

Breaking Ground

So, while everyone is out celebrating St. Patrick's day this Saturday, I will be happily working on our garden. I was looking at some photos from last year and it seems that I broke ground around March 29. I will not actually be planting anything until after Easter, as all of the wise and experienced gardeners will tell you this is the best advice.

We have a local farmers market that I go to on Saturdays, and last week there was a new vendor, Swansea Milling Co. They are selling some organic soil nutrients by the manufacturer Fertrell that I am interested in looking into. But honestly, my soil seems to be fine and money is tight right now. With that being said, I will more than likely try and look no further than what is around me, but especially, that which is free. My dad and his wife, Betty, have both cows and chickens, so there is a good supply of manure.

Soon after we moved into our house almost four years ago, I decided that I wanted us to start composting. I had been reading about how we could compost all of the organic materials from our kitchen that would normally have been thrown in the trash. I even read about vermicomposting, which uses a variety of earthworms. Needless to say, we compost everything that we can. Last year alone, I was able to add a lot of compost to my garden to enrich the soil. So this year, I will be sifting out the yard debris and kitchen scraps from last year and adding that to my soil, and continue the cycle.
- Compost added in 2009 -
It is very exciting to be in the planning stages of our garden. My wife and I have been discussing what we would like to grow, and soon I will decide if we will grow from seed or purchase plants. I have finished going through all of my Mother Earth News magazines, marking sections of interest. Several books have been discovered on my bookshelf, full of great ideas!

So now it is time to press forward and break soil, for this years garden will be as fun as last years, but with a little more experience.
- 2009 -

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hello, World!


Garden coming soon.

Thanks for reading.