Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Growing Up

I spent the weekend assembling trellises for my vining vegetables. The tomatoes are doing so well (so far) that I added additional supports. Fingers crossed, especially after the abysmal tomato summer we had last year! I already feel an impending sense of doom about them. But for now, they are producing, with the first currant tomatoes picked this week (a bird got the first ripe one, as always)..

I tried to get creative with the twine for the trellis for the Mexican sour gherkins, but this was likely not the most efficient solution.
I used this wooden ladder-type trellis (below left) for my delicata squash last year, and it worked quite well. Unfortunately the delicata were not as resistant to the squash vine borer as these tatume squash seem to be.

It may be wishful thinking to suppose these black eyed pea plants (above right) are mature enough that the rabbits won't eat them. I just let the twine dangle and the vines will eventually latch on.

For my lima beans and small red beans, I purchased these plastic poles for a teepee trellis, which will get wrapped in twine.
And last but not least is my passion flower wall, which saw the addition of two new trellises (you can tell because they are not weathered). I can't wait for it to be filled with that unruly vine. I screwed them to the wall instead of sticking them in the soil, as they get that high and more, plus the plants at the base obscure the bottom.
Growing vertically is a great way to maximize space, also ensure air circulation for healthy plants, and make harvest easier. I also like the way it adds structure to the garden.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Next Projects: Herb Bed, Sun Room(!)

Early on, I realized my raised beds were prime real estate for growing vegetables, which need rotating a lot more than often-perennial herbs. Since then, I've sought out places to dedicate to herbs. Some herbs, like mint and lemon balm, stay in pots so as to not take over the world. Lavender earns its spot in the perennial border, and thyme creeps around the vegetable beds, punctuated by slow growing rosemary (it dislikes my heavy soil). When I had an abundance of parsley and cilantro seed, I scattered it and accidentally created an herb bed.
The partially shaded spot, sunny in winter, is perfect for parsley and cilantro, and the chives and sorrel seem to like it, too. You could even call the roses (inherited) part of the herb bed, as I hope to use them in a culinary way at some point (I recently made a rose syrup that will be nice in lemonade). Caraway was a bit of a bust, but I plan to try again. I ended up putting sage and oregano at the sunny end of the bed, and both are quite happy. I have cumin and many Asian herbs I'd like to add, but first I need to continue pulling out the violet party happening in there. Also, this spot is low and water pools, so I need to add topsoil.
The "accidental"  herb beds needs work--the flopping flowers had to be corralled with supports; violets threaten to take over.
Some of the herb bed project will depend on a much more ambitious and overdue project, converting this shed, which a previous owner built onto our house, into something inhabitable, what we're calling a sun room.
The Carolina Jessamine vine will find a new home (probably behind the herb bed), and the day lilies will be dug up and given away (again), and we'll have large windows installed (or maybe French doors?). Other than that, we're completely clueless. A contractor will be involved, as it is way more than we have the time, skill, or inclination to take on. The cement floor inside is cracked, water infiltrates after big storms, and I am not ready to show you the scary photos of the inside.
However, once the worst is over, we will finally have a room--even if not connected to the inside of our house--that we can actually see the garden from. Otherwise, we only have the door into the kitchen to stare out of. I can't wait!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Time to Move the Strawberries

After four years in the same spot (at the base of the fence), it is time to create a new strawberry bed, but where? A good excuse for adding a bed! 
The area to the left will make a nice spot for a new strawberry bed.
Wherever they end up, they will be in place at least a few years, and they cannot precede or follow plants in the nightshade family (tomatoes, etc.), with whom they share diseases. These already have a touch of something, but they still produce well.

Reading about strawberry diseases has not resulted in a diagnosis, but I think it is leaf blight (and not a terribly big deal).
I cannot find a definitive answer if I should transplant runners from these plants or buy entirely new plants, so I'm going to take my chances with runners. I think any problem has been a result of my letting this bed get too crowded and watering from above.
A new bed will make picking easier than this low spot along the fence, free up a new place to plant greens and beans, and allow me to start over with better spacing (meaning bigger berries).
Stay tuned for the new bed--to be planted in fall, a good time to transplant runners from the old beds. My next task will be to "renovate" this bed, i.e., chop off all of the leaves, and try to keep track of runners to transplant after summer wanes.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013