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Monday, April 14, 2014

Container Pickles - Growing Cucumbers in the "City Pickers"

I'm a big fan of self-watering containers, like the Earthbox, but I'm not a big fan of the Earthbox price at around $50 on Amazon and considerably more in local retail stores.

I blogged about a method of making cheap self-watering containers using buckets, but I've also found that I like the City Pickers self-watering garden kit that Home Depot sells for $30.

They show it being used for tomatoes, but I wouldn't recommend that.  Even if you choose a smaller variety bush tomato, like a Patio Tomato, you'll find that tomatoes have vigorous root systems and you'll probably have nutrient problems.  The "trellis" that comes with it isn't particulary suitable for much either.

This year, I'm going to try growing pickling cucumbers in this planter.  and with that, I've found yet another use for an inexpensive product I found at The Home Depot called "mason ladder".  Don't bother googling this term, it won't do you any good.  Mason Ladder is a 10' section of heavy gauge galvanized wire, about 4" wide with cross connectors every 12".

Anyway, I stuck a couple of these mason ladder pieces in my City Pickers planter, and I think it will make an excellent cucumber trellis.  Here's a pic!

Stringing your Tomatoes - How to avoid the falling tomato plant

I've been using the string trellis method to grow my tomatoes vertically for 3 years now.  And with much success.  One problem I've faced every year is the twine breaking, and my tomato plants falling down when they get laden down with heavy tomatoes.  Usually string breakage hasn't been a problem for my cherry tomatoes, but it's definately been a problem for every other variety.

The first year, I only used a single strand of twine.  The second and third years, I doubled the twine, with no better success.  Twine just doesn't last very long when exposed to the elements.

So, this year, I'm using some small yellow nylon rope that I picked up at Home Depot.  I suspect it will NOT snap like the twine does!

I planted my tomatoes on Saturday.  I see a low of 36 in the forecast for Wednesday night, so I'll have to keep an eye on that!

Here's the tomato garden!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

More spring planting

I don't have any pictures this time but I did feel like writing something about gardening and what's been going on lately in my garden.

I planted some zucchini seeds about 10 days ago and they haven't come up yet.  I wonder if the seeds "expired" while sitting in my shed since last spring.   At this point I'll probably just buy some seedlings at the farmers market.

Speaking of the Farmer's Market, I did make a couple trips there this past weekend.  Saturday, I purchased and then planted two varieties of cucumbers for my garden trellis - one side of the arched walkway trellis will be Straight 8 slicing cucumbers, which have always been my favorite variety.  The other side will be some variety of pickling cucumbers. Mom said she had plenty of relish still so I'll probably try to make some pickles with my harvest.

Sunday, I bought some more herbs - Pineapple Sage, Orange Thyme, and Greek Oregano.  The Pineapple Sage is a fast growing and fairly large plant that smells wonderful and has beautiful red flowers.  I don't really use sage, so I'm actually just growing this one like a flower.  The orange thyme also smells wonderful and will look cool in my sidewalk herb garden.  The sidewalk garden (called that because it's right next to the sidewalk in the front yard) also has lemon thyme, creeping thyme, garlic chives, onion chives, rosemary, and one of the new pineapple sage plants.  Most of these are actually cold hardy perreniels that I planted last year.

This weekend, if I have time, it's time to get some peppers in the ground.  I'm planning to reduce my varieties and grow only Jalapeno, Habanero, and Bell Peppers this year.  I may also plant some corn, because corn is cool.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

First Garden Post of the Spring!

Well, as usual I stopped blogging half way through the gardening season last year.  Actually it was a tough summer - very hot and wet.  Many of my varieties of peppers and tomatoes didn't do as well as previous years - except the Ghost Peppers, which grew like a damn tree!

Well, here it is, March, and gardening season is upon me again!

I'm curtailing my gardening activities a bit this spring because of shoulder surgery I underwent about 5 weeks ago. Luckily I'd managed to turn and prep most of my garden beds prior to the surgery and covered them up with landscape fabric so they'd be ready for planting come April and May.  I'm not doing as much early spring gardening this year.

I did start some sweet peas about 6 weeks ago - they're coming up nicely, as you can see here:

I also have yellow onions that I planted in the fall and they've overwintered quite nicely and look like they're picking up the pace again - they're still pretty small, I do not expect to harvest them for several months still.  This particular location in my back yard is about the only place that gets full sun all winter long.  Most of the rest of the back yard is heavily shaded by my house in the winter.

I also picked up some lettuce starts at the farmer's market this morning and planted them today.  I got two varieties of leaf lettuce - one green (buttercrunch) and one red (don't remember).  We are right in the middle of lettuce planting season here in Raleigh!

I also planted some Cilantro from a seedling a month ago and it's doing very well.  Cilantro is a cool weather herb that is an annual but it does easily re-seed itself in the heat of the summer and so you will often find it "coming back" every year.

Here's a few more pictures from the garden today too.

Heather in bloom - it started blooming about a month ago.  It's nice to have some color in the yard in February!

Strawberry Plants - they look like they're still mostly dormant, it's been chilly.

Camilia - also a nice late winter flowering plant.

Helibore flowering and looking very nice along with the groundcover I planted last year.  It's not doing much covering yet.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Work Garden Update

My patio garden at work is going fairly well.

Here is a "front" and "back" photo of my rubbermade tote garden... containing SIX cucumber plants (Straight 8), a Muncho Nancho jalapeno, and Genovese Basil.

And here is a potted Sungold tomato plant growing vertically on a string tied to the rafters of the patio roof.

I also have a Celebrity tomato in the same size pot.

These plants all get direct sunlight from sunrise to around 1pm, and then they are shaded by the building the rest of the day.  They seem to be doing very nicely, given that they only get 6 hours of sun.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Weekend Landscaping Project

Getting the back yard sodded last week motivated me to finally do something about the completely dead "yard" on the side of the house.  It gets almost no sun, and not a lot of rain either because of the tree coverage.  The ground is so hard I could not even get the tiller to dig into parts of it.  We've been talking about putting a walkway of some kind in for years, and so that's what I'm doing.

Three trips to Home Depot yielded 100 gray landscape blocks, and 50 rectangular caps.  I dug out part of the hill in order to flatten the path some, and then laid out the blocks and caps.  Another trip to American Soil and Mulch to procure a yard of their compost blend garden soil to fill in the area on the house side of the path, and to prepare the back of the side yard to receive sod, and the weekend is over.

Obviously, I'm not done yet!  I think we're going to do a gravel path here, some crush and run undernearth and then maybe a nice screened gravel on top.  TBD!

Here's the pics...

The back of the path will be finished off with sod.

A few of the path from the front of the house.  On the right we're going to plant some hosts and shade loving ground cover.

A view of the path from the back yard.  AGain, the area up front in the picture will be finished out with sod, and then the rest of the path will be gravel.

Vines: Onward and Upward!

I have a number of vining plants that are vigorously growing in the heat of late spring here in North Carolina, and I thought I'd share some photos here.

If you look closely, you can see the ornamental gourds on the left are starting to reach for the lower branches of the oak tree.  On the right, the cucumbers are going a little slower, but they were started later too.

The morning glories on the right have already started to cross the top of the bench.  The cardinal climbers on the left are a little less vigorous, but they've finally started going too.  I guess I won't be moving this bench again for the rest of the summer!

Champion Pumpkins, which I planted too early.  Look, I already have a pumpkin!

So I have six cucumber vines in this planter.  That's at least two too many.  They  are really sucking up the water and I am they need a full dose of water every day!  I feel like I should give them some hydro n utrients!

Newly installed cattle panel trellis for the pole beans.  I need to use some rope or something to straighten it up a bit.  Just planted the beans this weekend.  I also planted a tomato and some sweet bell peppers here.

Here is another Champion Pumpkin, growing in a 5 gallon bucket!