Sunday, March 22, 2020

Gearing Up for Gardening

We gave up our small greenhouse when we moved to our smaller place.  However, that doesn't mean we cannot continue our gardening activities on a smaller scale.  In my last post, I showed the new raised beds we were working on.  These will be easier to maintain.  If you missed it, here's a link:

In this post, I'll talk about how we are starting seed in our garage.  First, here's a picture of our "mini" greenhouse.

I know it isn't much to look at and is a far cry from the basement in our old house that we used for seed starting.  But, it works very well.  Curious about what's inside?

We started with these little discs that we ordered online.

When you soak these in water they absorb a huge amount and pop up like this. There is a shallow indentation in the middle that makes a small hole when hydrated where you can place your seed.

If needed, I use a toothpick to make the hole bigger, place the seed in it and cover with a little of the surrounding soil.  I then set them in containers on heat mats inside the mini-greenhouse.

I put a different variety in each container.  After a few days, tomato seedlings will begin appearing.  It takes a few days longer for peppers.

In a week or so, they will  begin to grow their second set of leaves.  In the picture below, the 2 Early Girls in back of this container are at this stage.  Actually, there are 3 plants.  If the seed is old, I usually put 2 seeds in each plug.  Tomato seed is viable for several years if stored in a refrigerator.  

Now,  they can be transplanted into larger pots.  I like to remove the outer fabric even though the roots are supposed to grow through it into the surrounding soil.

In our old "life", when we were growing for the  farmers' market, we would have had 10-12 flats of tomatos and peppers.  But, this one is plenty for now!  More later.

Friday, March 13, 2020

New Raised Bed Garden

2019 was a dismal gardening year here.  The reason:  too much rain!  The ground stayed saturated for weeks at a time and, because our main garden is on the lowest part of our land, we had to plant most crops at least twice and sometimes 3-4 times before they came up.  Several of our tomato plants died and the ones that survived were stunted and never produced much fruit.  The only exception were plants that were in a couple of raised beds we built before we moved to the new house.

For this reason, we have built additional raised beds on higher ground and closer to the house.  We have spend a lot of time working on these beds. 

Here's a view from the opposite direction.

On this day, the head gardener was filling the black tubs with soil and planting blueberry bushes.  If you are not familiar with blueberries, they need a more acidic soil than most other garden plants.  So, we decided to grow them in these tubs where we could control the soil acidity better.  Most Oklahoma soils are too alkaline for blueberries.

He works so hard!  

Here's one of the bushes. 

The bed below contains asparagus.  Not much to see yet.  You normally do not plant asparagus from seed, but from "crowns".  Basically, these are one-year-old roots of asparagus plants.  As the season progresses, the crowns will send up "spears" from which the foliage of the plant grows.  You normally cut and eat the spears when they are about 8 inches long, but you shouldn't harvest them the first year because the plant needs time to get established, produce foliage and grow strong.  The foliage takes sunlight and provides photosynthesis to feed the roots helping them store nutruients to produce next year's plant.

You may have noticed in the first picture that we put cattle panels down the middle of several of the beds.

We will use these as trellises to support tomato plants and for vining plants.  It is still very early in the season and lots of work ahead.  But, I'll keep you posted on our progress.  I like to say that gardening is an "ongoing creative endeavor".  You learn from your mistakes and, if something doesn't work out this year, then you can try again next year.

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Cats and Raccoon

Last fall we started feeding a couple of stray cats in the pole barn.  I have hopes of getting them tame enough that we can catch them and get them spayed/neutered and vaccinated.  But, in the mean time, we are hoping they will help to keep the rodent population down around the chicken pen.

Here are some pictures of them.  I call the first one Smokey because he/she is gray and white.  This cat usually comes during the day. 

Then there is Pretty Boy (or Girl).  This one comes to eat both in the daylight and at night and usually comes around several times each day. 

And here we have Monster Cat.  At first glance, he looks a lot like Pretty Boy, except he has shorter ears and a LOT more hair.  This cat only comes around at night and usually only shows up once.

As expected, other wildlife eventually found the cat food.  Not sure you can see it, but there is a little mouse by the big food bowl.  Where are the cats????

The raccoons found the food last week and have turned out to be pretty entertaining.  This guy looks like he is posing for the camera.

In the following two pics he seems to be taking it easy, just lolling around after eating.

He's acting like he is a meercat here.  I've never seen one stand up like this!

He seems to have decided to climb the wooden frame (which happens to be a wooden frame that forms a pen used on warm days to put young chicks in to get them used to being outside and scratching in the grass).  

 I guess he decided he needed company because he showed up with a buddy one night.

We don't want to waste cat food on raccoons, so we only put the cat food out in the morning.  The cats are starting to learn that they need to come during the day or early in the evening and usually there isn't a lot left by the time the raccoons show up.