Raised Bed Garden Progress

My raised bed garden is coming along nicely. In addition to the plants in the photos below, I am also growing radishes, carrots, tomatoes, and bell peppers. It’s going to be an absolutely delicious summer!

Raised bed gardening is “no dread gardening”
I’ve only had to pull a few tiny weeds over the past couple of weeks. That alone makes raised garden beds worth the initial time and investment. Another thing I like is that I don’t have to hoe or till. Raised bed gardens require very little labor once everything is planted and growing. I do water on days when it doesn’t rain, but find this task relaxing and enjoyable. It gives me time to gaze at the plants and marvel over their progress.

raised bed garden progress early in the season

Earlier post on how I set up my raised bed garden.


Giant Blueberries? Really?

A friend of mine emailed me a few days ago and sent me a link to Little Giant blueberries. I checked out the website and was amazed by the claims the company made about their blueberry bushes. Up to four pints of blueberries a day? Really? I don’t know how I could possibly eat four pints of blueberries a day! So, if the plants produce enough for a pie, muffins and snacking, I’ll be very satisfied. I have a feeling that my estimate is closer to the truth 🙂

I used to have a few blueberry plants near the garden and have been thinking about getting some more plants and giving it another go. Why not the Little Giant blueberries?!

Soooo, I just ordered three plants and thought I would use them as a little experiment to share on my blog. Actually, I ordered two plants. The third plant was free. Of course, it wasn’t really free. There was an additional charge for shipping. The total for the three plants came to $21.90. If I get four or five pints of berries from them, they will have paid for themselves. We’ll see what happens. I’ll keep you posted!

By the way, the checkout process was kind of a hassle. They tried to sell me orange trees, strawberry plants, raspberries, etc. before I was able to get to the final checkout page.

June Bearing Strawberries

Check out my overachiever June bearing strawberry. This one will be fully ripe in a few days. Several more green berries are close behind. Typically, the plants spread and form a mat. THEN, they form fruit (in June). Obviously, strawberries love raised garden beds.

Have you set up your raised garden bed yet?



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Further reading:
Raised Bed Gardening Books
Mel Bartholomew’s All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space is my favorite. Here is a video of Mel answering questions about his Square Foot Gardening Method.


Check the great prices at DirectGardening.com


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Bearded Irises in Bloom

bearded iris in bloomFrom spring until fall, something is always in bloom around here. Now, it is time for my bearded irises to show off. I have several varieties planted around the yard, but do not know the name of a single one of them. Not knowing their names does not make them less beautiful.

These irises came with the house and were planted in unusual spots in the yard and woods. For the past seven years, I’ve been digging up and transplanting these little discoveries in places where they could be better appreciated. Just when I think I’ve found them all, a new one pops up.

Irises are extremely carefree plants. In fact, I have one group that has been thriving for over eight years in a bed around a tree. With the exception of weeding and cleaning up the beds in the fall, I have done absolutely nothing to help these plants along. I used to worry about the rhizomes that were heaving out of the soil. Seems that’s not a problem. They continue to grow and thrive without any assistance. I considered dividing or fertilizing them but changed my mind. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!


Azaleas in Bloom

The azaleas are in full bloom in the south – a sign that spring is here to stay. Not that I had any doubt. We had temps in the 80’s already this year.

Fourteen years ago, when I first moved to South Carolina, I saw my first azaleas. The colors were so vivid and surreal. I thought, “What are these beautiful shrubs?!” It didn’t seem possible that an entire plant could be covered with blooms… and the colors… WOW!

I am fortunate to be surrounded by a wide variety of these breathtaking plants. Thanks to the previous owners of our home, splashes of vivid red, pink, fuchsia, and white brighten the yard and woods. My photos do not do them justice. They are a plant that must be seen in person.

We have visitors coming from Wisconsin in a couple of days. Perfect timing! They’ve had a harsh winter and will appreciate the azaleas and other flowering plants even more than I do, I’m sure.

 

azaleas in bloom


‘mmmaters!

aerogarden tomatoesI started my Aerogarden cherry tomatoes on Jan. 1st. FINALLY… they’re ready to eat!

Using the Aerogarden has been an interesting indoor gardening experiment. After the tomatoes are exhausted, I think I will start a lettuce garden. My hope is that the indoor lettuce will be ready by the time my outdoor lettuce has had enough of the heat. My seven-pod Aerogarden won’t produce enough lettuce to provide more than a couple of salads a week, but that’s okay. It’s worth it for the enjoyment of watching the seeds sprout and develop into mature plants. I do this same thing with my outside plants, but it’s not the same as having them in my kitchen in a spot that I walk by several times a day. It’s like the difference between living with your parents and living down the street from them. Know what I mean?



Previous AeroGarden posts
This is where it all began.
My AeroGarden after the first month.
My AeroGarden after 40 days!
Caprese Sandwich with Fresh Basil
Fresh Mint Tea
Aerogarden Cherry Tomatoes

Construct A Raised Bed Garden

Setting up the raised bed garden took a bit more work than I had anticipated. I should have known better.

I used the M Brace raised garden bed system from Art of The Garden. The corner braces are beautiful, functional and work like a charm… if you don’t use a warped board, that is. We used four 2”x8”x12’ and four 2”x8”x4’ pieces of untreated lumber and created a 4’x12′ bed that is approximately 16 inches high. Unfortunately, one of the 12’ boards was slightly warped and added another step to the process. We had to attach L-brackets to the inside of the bed to pull it all together. Problem solved!

The first thing we did was lay down weed barrier fabric. We doubled it to ensure that the weeds stay out. Then, we set up the corners and placed the boards in the grooves. Easy. Then, of course, we added the brackets. Not difficult, but an extra step I didn’t need.

The next day, we filled the pickup with topsoil… shovel by shovel. Then, we unloaded it… shovel by shovel into the garden bed. We didn’t want to fill the entire bed with expensive soil when it would only be the top 12 inches that would matter, so we used FREE topsoil for the bottom 3-4 inches. Then, we added bags of garden soil, peat moss and mushroom compost. We blended it all together with a little Mantis tiller like we were mixing a giant bowl of cake batter. No… we DID NOT lick the tines of the tiller after we finished mixing the soil. Our dogs, Johnny & Tucker, did find the mushroom compost quite tasty though. They’ve eaten more disgusting things.

By the time we finished filling (and tilling) the garden, it was dark outside. The only thing I had time to plant was two rows of strawberries. Either tonight or tomorrow, I will add peas, lettuce, radishes, carrots, potatoes, and asparagus. Next month, I will plant zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, and a few herbs. It’s going to be a great garden!


Further reading:
Raised Bed Gardening Books
Mel Bartholomew’s All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space is my favorite. Here is a video of Mel answering questions about his Square Foot Gardening Method.

Snowball Radishes

I just picked these about 15 minutes ago. They are from the first planting of radishes in my cold frame (no longer needed, by the way). This variety is called Snowball. Don’t let the name fool you… they’re HOT!

The next row of radishes that I plant will be in my new raised bed garden. We set up the frame last night and are filling it with soil later today. Stay tuned!



How to Make an Herb Chair

A few years ago, I created an herb garden in a three dollar chair I found at a garage sale. Fortunately, the chair did not have a seat. Sounds like a strange thing to be happy about, but it was exactly what I needed! Any chair with a removable seat or cane seat is perfect for this project.

I created a new seat for my chair using chicken wire. I allowed the chicken wire to sag enough to accommodate soil and secured it with heavy duty staples. Then, to keep the soil from running off, I lined the chicken wire with burlap and stapled it in place. Landscape fabric also works… anything to keep the soil in but let the water drain out. I added some potting soil and planted the herbs. Easy! Annual flowers would also look great in this chair.

If you want to use a chair with a seat that can’t be removed without compromising the structure of the chair, here’s a solution. Cut a circular hole in the seat with a slightly smaller diameter than the lip of the pot you plan on using. The pot will then “hang” from the chair and the plants will look like they are growing from the seat. I would probably use a plastic pot with a twist on/off drainage saucer. This will keep the area under the pot clean, which is a good idea if you are setting the chair on a deck or porch. If you plan on setting your chair in the yard, it doesn’t matter if muddy water drains from the bottom, of course.


Check the great prices at DirectGardening.com


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First Radishes of the Season

Yesterday, I harvested the first radishes of the season from my cold frame salad garden. There’s nothing as cute as a radish! There’s nothing quite as tasty either. They were a spicy addition to my spinach salad.

Speaking of spinach, my cold frame crop is looking good. Check it out in the second photo. I’m also growing radishes and carrots in this bed. I won’t be able to harvest the carrots for a while. They take 70 days to mature while the radishes only take 28-30 days. After I’ve chowed my way through this row of radishes, I have another row that will be ready in about three weeks. Perhaps I will have enough time to plant one more row before things heat up in SC. Once it gets hot here, the salad garden is history until mid-late fall.

The lettuce seeds I sowed, and then sowed again (remember that disaster?), are peeking out and starting to fill in… though not as quickly as I had hoped. The arugula, on the other hand, is growing like wildfire. It’s well ahead of the other lettuce seeds that I sowed at the same time. Arugula has a strong, peppery flavor and I like to mix it with milder greens. It adds just the right amount of bite to a salad.

Coming soon…
Setting up my raised bed garden!