Moved the garden indoors

About two years ago, I was perusing “the middle” (as we like to call it) at BJ’s and saw an item called an Aero Garden. I was intrigued, but decided I needed to do some more research before I bought one.  I’m glad I did as the one I saw had CFL lights (which need to be changed every 6 months).  All the new models have LED lights on them.  So I opted to spend a bit more and get the AeroGarden Ultra LED – pictured.  Started the custom herb kit that was included.  Everything grew well except the chives.  AeroGarden is a Miracle Grow product, and they have great support.  All their items are guaranteed to grow.  If something doesn’t germinate, just give them a call and they will send out a replacement pod.  I’ve done herbs twice, cherry tomatoes once and now have a second garden.  I’m about to set both up again, with some lighting improvements which will hopefully give me better growth.

The AeroGarden is a hydroponic system – no dirt, just water and nutrients.  I’ve you’ve ever been on the Living with the Land ride at Epcot, you’ve seen hydroponics there – remember the pvc pipes with the plants growing out of them?  Hydroponics promotes better and faster growth than growing in soil.  They have a lot of models and types, from 3-pod up to 9-pod now.  They have lots of sales and promotions, prices change often, and there are great sales on the older models when the new models come out.

As I’m about to set up two gardens again, one with the Cherry Tomatoes and one with either lettuce or herbs (I’ve not decided yet).  I’ll post pictures of my progress.

 

Lousy garden year!

Wow, this past season has been a bad one for our garden.  Between the record-setting hot July, the dang worm in the squash and a certain spotted dog who decided she liked vegetables, things have not gone well.  We lost our zucchini squash overnight.  How in the world are we the only folks who don’t have enough zucchini to feed half the neighborhood?  We tried a second planting.  The limas again are not doing well, and we’re starting to pick the purple pole beans.  We’ve got the tomato bushes now fenced off to keep the dog out, but they still are not producing much.  I will admit, we’ve neglected the vegetables a bit in favor or the new RV.

Heading out on trip #5 this weekend!

Gardening time again

Ok. Enough of the winter stuff already. It has warmed up a bit and we thought we would use the bean tower and plant some early snow peas. Hopefully they will be done by the time we are ready to plant the pole Limas. This will be our first early spring crop. I am already thinking about adding bed number 3. I don’t know about the seeds but I am looking forward to warm weather – as long as it doesn’t shoot up in the 80’s.

And we’ve got a great start to the solar production. We only paid for 14 kwh in February and we are now watching the meter run backwards. They read the meter March 8 and it was 1111. Today it was down to 990.

These last couple of months I hung the clothes on racks in front of the woodstove. I plan to do the same all of next winter.

Pickles!

The summer veggies are about done – I managed to get enough cucumbers for two batches of Bread & Butter pickles – made 10 pints.

My mother’s recipe:
5 cups sugar
3 cups white vinegar
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of tumeric (if desired)
Pickling cucumbers – thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
Onions – thinly sliced (1-3 as desired)
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup Coarse ground Sea Salt (no iodine!)

In a ceramic or non-metal crock or pan (I use the crockpot crock) layer about 1/4 of the cucumber/onion, cover with a layer of ice, and 1/4 of the salt. Repeat with the remaining. Allow to sit for 3-4 hours.

About an hour before the brining is done, fill your canning pot with water, add your empty jars and lids and bring to a rolling boil. It will take a while to bring that amount of water to a boil. While the jars are sterilizing, add the sugar, vinegar, mustard seed and tumeric to a pan large enough to hold the cucumbers and onions. Bring to a boil, and add the drained, but NOT rinsed cucumbers and onions – discard the garlic cloves either now or before ladling into jars. Continue to heat over medium heat until mixture boils. Ladle into clean sterilized hot jars. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth, add lid and tighten rim.

Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, remove jars and cool naturally. The lids should seal and stay down. Store when totally cool.

Great book for preserving all kinds of food:

Garden Supports

Hoping to keep the rabbits at bay, we purchased a 100′ roll of black plastic 1″ tubing at Home Depot and cut it into 14 – 86″ pieces. As these keep their circular shape nicely, they work great for our garden frames:

PVC supports

PVC supports

We strung string along the top and sides to give it extra strength and support and then placed deer netting over the entire garden. Weighted down at the ends and along the sides, hopefully it will keep the rabbits from snacking on our lettuce and sprouting beans and peas!

Deer netting on supports

Deer netting on supports

We can later add fleece to provide some shade from the hot summer sun and protection from flying insects, or plastic in the fall to extend our growing season.

I’ve been on a search today for plastic barrels to make our own rain barrels and compost bin like this one:

Compost bin

Compost bin

I’ve found two sources, stay tuned!

Garden/Solar Update

Well, we have a few things sprouting in the garden. I’ve realized that the rabbits will probably be a problem so we’ve got to put up some sort of fence this weekend. Then, for the first time in years, a dear jumped the split rail fence *into* the yard. Hopefully she didn’t see the garden and contemplate coming back.

They came out yesterday and took measurements of the roof and took pictures of the house for the solar panels. Still waiting on DE to get the grant approved and get an install date. It’s been 4 weeks now, and we were told the total process should take 6-8 weeks. Hopefully the April showers will get out of the way by the time the panels are in. I also took a look at our electric usage over the past 24 months and was glad to see we’ve cut our average usage by 100 kw a month! And this year we’ve used 1440 kw less than the same time a year ago. Hopefully we can cut our electric us more with the whole-house fans we installed last year instead of AC and using an outdoor clothesline this summer.

Garden’s In!

The past weekend proved to be a record-breaker with temps in the low 90’s. Too hot for April!

In spite of the heat, we managed to get the garden in.

Once we tilled the soil again, we put down two 25′ soaker hoses:
soaker hoses

Then we put a weed block down over the entire bed. We found a roll of <a href=”Easy Gardener 1623 WeedBlock Natural Landscape Fabric – 40-Inch x 36-Foot“>corn-based natural fabric and decided to use it, even tho it didn’t quite cover the bed. This will keep the weeds down somewhat.
weedblock fabric

Then I planted lettuce, zucchini, yellow summer squash, green beans, cucumber and peas. Along with 5 tomato plants. 4 different varieties and one cherry tomato. We’ll see what works the best.

Already I’m looking to start a second bed for a fall crop and next year. I’ll take some more pictures once things have sprouted. We will be building a trellis on the side of the bed for the peas to climb on.

Garden Bed Built

The April rains quit and the ground dried up enough to begin construction on our raised garden bed. We rented a tiller and worked up an area about 5′ x 25′. Once the ground was tilled, we assembled 3 2’x6′ boards for one side that made it 24′ long. We attached a 12″ piece of pvc pipe every 4′. Final size of the box was 4′ x 24′ and looks like this:

gardenbed

Besides anchoring the box a bit, the pipes will allow us to bend flexible pipe to create a mini greenhouse. We can then cover the beds with plastic, netting or garden fleece.

We still need to add some sort of fencing to keep Dumb and Dumber (the dogs) out of it, but so far they are keeping away. Hopefully we can get a couple early crops in next weekend, and finish the rest of the planting by mid-May when we’ve past the last frost.

First Sale!

Made my first sale today on Etsy. TWO items no less. Hopefully it will be the start of more sales now that the first is done and folks can order without worrying.

I’ve slacked off on the projects – getting antsy to get started on something new. I have a few more bottles to finish and photograph. And now that the storage boxes have arrived I can start putting the ornaments together.

On another note, we’ve decided to venture into the vegetable gardening world again. I’m excited! I’ve missed having fresh veggies. So we dug out the old Yardening video by Jeff Ball and refreshed our memory on designing a raised-bed vegetable garden.

Looks like Sunday will be the better day to get started. We’ll be doing just one bed this year which will be 4′ x 24′. With a lot of the trees gone from behind the house now, it should get more sun and hopefully do better than our first attempt after moving in. So far the plan is just for tomatoes, squash, purple string beans, (yes purple – they turn green when cooked) limas, and lettuce.

The beds will be made of 2×6 boards with 1 1/2″ PVC pipes strapped to the sides at 4′ intervals. We’ll also get some 1″ flexible piping cut into 8′ lengths that will be inserted across the bed into the PVC pipe. This will give us a mini greenhouse to add plastic or netting to. We will also be able to make our bean trellis 8′ high using the same PVC pipes for supports. Stay tuned!