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2017 Garden Plans: Bed 3 – Vertical Garden

We have a dedicated “Vertical” garden again this year, featuring the cattle panel trellises. We do try to change up what we’re growing, and this year we are featuring cantaloupe, watermelon, and cucumbers.

The cucumbers include a pickler, a slicer, and an English/European type. The ‘Arkansas Little Leaf’ is a pickler with smaller diameter leaves than a usual variety that is also heat and disease tolerant. The ‘Lime Crisp’ has bright green skin rather than darker green as is usual. ‘Tyria’ is a parthenocarpic (seedless) English variety. We had another variety selected, but it cost about $1.25 per seed, and we couldn’t buy less than 50 seeds…so that was a NO.

We have done cantaloupe in the past, but we have always stuck to the smaller fruited varieties. This year we have ‘Lilliput,’ which is a new personal size variety that is supposed to be very sweet. But then we chose two other varieties, ‘Maverick’ and ‘Sarah’s Choice’ that are larger. ‘Sarah’s Choice’ is a 3 pound melon, and ‘Maverick’ is a 4-5 pound melon. It will be fun to see how successful they are in the trellis system.

The watermelons are also a range of sizes and characteristics. We haven’t had great success with watermelons on the trellis, but we are still going to try them again! ‘Golden Crown’ is a yellow rind, red fleshed, seeded watermelon. It is an All America Selection from several years ago. It has 5-7 lb. fruit. ‘New Queen’ is an orange fleshed, seeded watermelon that is 5-6 lbs, also an All America Selection. ‘Mini Love’ is a new variety this year that is also an All America Selection. It is red fleshed, seeded, with 7-9 lb. fruit. This variety is supposed to have 3-4′ vines but still up to 6 fruit per plant. It seems like a lot of large fruit for not much vine. I’m excited to see how it performs. As an All America Selection, it should be a consistent producer.

A Pallet Garden…It’s Pinteresting

26378684701_c01d252c28_zIf you’ve been on Facebook or Pinterest at all in the past couple years, you’ve probably seen someone growing something in a pallet. The plants look lush and gorgeous, you can set it up vertically so it doesn’t take up much space, and it looks soooo easy!

So we decided to try it out. I found some instructions that recommended stapling landscape fabric on the back and three sides, then filling with potting soil, planting, and waiting two weeks for plants to grow before setting it upright.

(I’ll give you the sneak preview…everyone thought this project was much more difficult than advertised!)

25828561793_c2663cced0The starting point….an ugly old pallet. This is actually after we had started nailing down some of the loose slats. The other interesting thing – the bottom has extra holes in it where a forklift would pick it up. Hmm…which side to cover?

26405430226_18ab21d06fWe decided to cover the side with the larger holes, because we weren’t sure how the soil would stay in otherwise. We also ended up doing two layers of landscape fabric to make sure it was sturdy enough.

25826511114_3495a01847One of the Master Gardeners had brought along a few old lathe slats and we decided to nail them along the back just to help stabilize everything. Did we have to do this step? No. Does everyone feel a lot better about the durability of the project now? Yes, absolutely!

25826509714_ce58df29d8It took about 4-5 cu. feet of potting soil to fill the pallet. 26158512800_7beeae8ab7.jpg

26158512800_7beeae8ab7We planted some of our leftover lettuce seedlings in the pallet. We also have some strawberries that we will put in later. (If I don’t manage to kill them in my office first…watering…it’s helpful!)

26405785346_011ae93698The final result…it would have been more picturesque had we had some green lettuce too, but I guess we’ll survive with the two shades of red!

We will stand it up on end in another couple weeks and see how things go! My biggest concern with all projects like this is how are we going to keep it sufficiently watered, especially once it is vertical. I foresee lots of water running everywhere.

Friday PhotoEssay

I think the Demo Garden path is paved with my good intentions of posting more frequently. Time just seems to slip away from me earlier in the week!

Luckily, the garden does not rely on me to blog regularly in order to grow. We really would be in trouble if that were the case! You can see on the right side of the picture that the pumpkins are doing their best to be the first to the top of the trellis. Some of our other cucumbers and vines are just being pokey.

The pumpkins are also doing their best to be the first vine crop with fruit set. They might win! I didn’t see any bees this morning, so I tried to help the cause by transferring pollen from one of the lower male flowers to this female flower that was open. I guess we’ll see if I was successful.

We have new babies! Again! We planted some chicory and onion seeds inside this week, and a few of the chicory are already up. I’m a little surprised, because sometimes chicory can be a little slow. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to start them now rather than in two weeks. They also have a relatively low germination percentage (about 65%), so this way we will be sure to have enough plants in about 6 weeks.

This Rose Scented Thyme is blooming like crazy. It is almost completely coated in pale pink flowers. It is obviously very happy with its location.

Also blooming, but not nearly so attractive is this Endive. Not all of the endive mesclun plants are bolting, but I’m sure they aren’t far behind. That means we will be pulling them out soon and getting ready to plant the bulbing fennel for fall.

The Herbs & Flowers garden is looking so nice already, and the citrus marigolds are still looking better than they ever have before. I’m going to have to find some recipes using citrus marigolds!

Have a great weekend!

Thinning Seedlings

I think one of the hardest gardening tasks is thinning out seedlings. It is too easy to just let it go, because you are so excited to see the plants growing, and then everything is an overgrown, tangled mess that you can’t thin out. That’s one of the reasons that I try really hard to space things out when I plant the seeds. However, that doesn’t always work out.

On our trellises for growing vining vegetables, we usually want no more than 2-3 plants per side of the trellis. It seems like so little when you are planting just a few seeds, but planting too many can be a disaster later on!

You can see that there are at least 5 plants along this trellis, and I think there may have been another one or two that I didn’t get in the picture. Even though these plants will be growing up the trellis, if we left all of the plants in place, they would be so thick that we could have problems with diseases – especially if this hot, humid weather keeps on.

We removed all but 3 plants from each of the trellises, which will still be plenty thick by the time the plants are full grown.

Friday PhotoEssay – May 2nd

My best intentions to post more than once a week keep being thwarted by various and sundry other things going on. I guess the most positive way to look at it is that when it stays colder, things don’t grow fast enough to get ahead of me and my sketchy posting schedule. That looks like it is going to change here this weekend. I just wish the rain in the forecast wouldn’t keep getting moved further out with lower percentage chances!

Here’s a look at the whole garden. Yes, we have the trellises up! Nothing is planted, but we wanted the trellises up as a display for Herb Day.

Speaking of Herb Day, I think I forgot to mention it with my dearth of posts in the past few weeks. The French Tarragon is looking great in the garden. It must know that it is the featured herb tomorrow!

On the other hand, the beets aren’t looking particularly spectacular, but I don’t think it is their fault. It looks as though something is enjoying them as a snack, and I can’t see any sign of the culprit. I feel like it almost has to be an insect, since the nearby lettuce and carrots look okay, and the beets are in the middle of the bed. I guess we’ll just have to keep watching!

After shivering underground for more than a month, the potatoes finally decided to put in an appearance this last week. I think that only one of the nine seed pieces hasn’t come up, which isn’t too bad considering how cold it has been several times in the last month.

Putting the trellises up this week helps the garden literally take shape, and it’s getting me excited to get everything else planted and growing. We plant to plant tomatoes and peppers this week, and we’ll probably plant all the vine crops the week after that.

Have a great weekend! Don’t forget to come check out Herb Day!