Follow me on Twitter!

Follow me on Twitter @ricksroots!

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!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I say Tomato... you say Tomato...

Something is lacking about the blog entry title.. I guess it doesn't translate well into text!

So, my tomatoes are doing very well so far!  Even the one that fell over a couple weeks ago before I strung it up seems to have survived the stalk crease, no worse for the wear.  As expected, the Early Girl variety already have big plump tomatoes on them.  These two plants started as fairly large seedlings that I purchased from the Farmer's market, so they had a bit of a head start on my own seedlings.

My other seedlings planted in the "String Garden" are also doing very well, as are the eggplants as seen in this picture:

I also have several "Celebrity" tomatoes growing in containers that are doing very well.  If you're unfamiliar, the Celebrity variety is a hybrid, determinate variety that only gets about 3 feet tall, making it perfect for containers.  It has medium sized slicing tomatoes on it that I've found to have very good flavor.  Here's a picture of one of these in a 5 gallon self-watering bucket planter:

You can also see my pickling cucumbers next to it there, also doing fairly well.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Sod!

Tired of of the summer heat killing various parts of our fescue lawn every year, we opted to swap out the fescue for bermuda!

We did the back yard (inside the fence), along with all parts of the yard outside the sidewalk.

View from the second floor.

New sod!

We haven't had grass HERE in 5-6 years!

I didn't actually intend for them to do the part on the right... but it looks nice.

Another view of the back yard.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Garden Photo Update

Here are some photos from the garden this morning!  Click on the first one and you can enlarge and go through a slideshow.

Rubbermade Tote with cucumbers, basil, and a "Mucho Nacho" jumbo jalapeno.

Celebrity Tomato

First tomatoes, as expected, on the "Early Girl" variety.

Blueberries galore!  One of these plants is doing better than the other.

Tomatoes are strung up and ready to reach for the sky, peppers and eggplants caged.

Zucchini, only three weeks after transplant!  Dill and Lemon Basil along the back.

First zucchini!

Slicing cucumbers "Straight 8"

Celebrity Tomato in the pot, bunching green onions, garlic chives, yellow onions,  a couple peppers, and "Better Bush" tomatoes.

Tallest pea vines ever!  Plus Broccoli, Oregano, Garlic Chives, Dill, Rosemary, and Cabbage.  Also planted two little nasturtiums next to the broccoli.


Pumpkin Buckets

Zucchini, slicing cucumbers by the trellis, and catnip.

Same as above.

On the trellis, ornamental gourds, plus sage, parsley, and texas taragon.


Pickling cucumbers and a Celebrity Tomato

Peppers Purchased, Planted...

Good morning gardening friends!  I haven't posted much lately, but the gardening is going very well so far this spring!  We had some 90 degree heat last week for a few days, and several of my plants soaked it up and went bananas - particularly the zucchini, which will have harvestable fruit on it in probably a week!!

I bought a bunch of hot peppers at the Farmer's Market last weekend to fill out my garden - I purchased Cayenne, Jalapeno, Poblano, Thai Dragon, Habanero, Carribean Red Hot, and Bhut Jolokia.  The latter is also known as a Ghost Pepper, and from time to time has been known as the world's hottest pepper.  I also have a couple of Big Bertha bell peppers, and I have two Jupiter bell peppers that I haven't transplanted yet.

Hot Pepper Heat - The Scoville Scale

The Ghost Pepper rates anywhere from 350,000 to over 1 million on the Scoville Scale, a system that measures that amount of "heat" a pepper has.  Habaneros, which are the hottest peppers you can buy in the grocery store, usually rate between 100,000 and 350,000 - I have eaten habaneros straight before, and I made some really awesome jelly from them last year.  More recognizable, the Thai Chili scores a 50,000 to 100,000 ... cayenne from 30,000 to 50,000, Jalapenos from 3,000 to 8,000, and the Poblano only 1,000 to 2,500.

Bell Peppers have no heat at all and score a 0 on this scale.

Honestly, I don't know if I'll try eating the Bhut Jolokia peppers.  I doubt it.  I bet they'd make some hellishly spicy jelly though!!

Finally, a use for Tomato Cages

Click to enlarge!
I don't subscribe to caging tomatoes.  The tapered tomato cages you see at the big box stores aren't anywhere near big enough for a tomato plant, as most tomatoes will get 5-6 tall or higher.  They are suitable only for caging "determinate" tomato plants or "bush" tomatoes.  These types of tomatoes will usually only get 3-4 tall.  I have several varieties of bush tomatoes planted.  Two of them are "Better Bush" which will allegedly get about 4' tall and the main stalk is so sturdy that they won't even need to be staked.  I don't know about that - we'll see!  The other are "Celebrity" which I grew with good luck last year in the garden.  This year I have them in large containers, and these do need some support, as they will be quite laden down with heavy tomatoes!  Since they only get 3-4' tall, the standard tapered tomato cages work fine for these.  Just make sure you know what kind of tomatoes you have and how tall they will get.  If they are "indeterminate" they will almost certainly outgrow these types of cages and you'll be left with a wrangled mess!

Click to enlarge!
I have found, however, that peppers and eggplants can use some level of support, especially as they get older and get heavy with peppers.  Even the branches of the smaller cayenne and jalapeno can droop under the weight  of a bountiful crop!  And certainly eggplants need lots of support!

Since most pepper plants only seem to get 2-3' tall, these tomato cages are perfect!