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Category Archives: Gardening

Corn Plot Layout and Dragon Hoses

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I plant 200+ corn plants in a modified circle/block so that cross pollination is more effective and I have found that watering with a hose is much easier, too. The blue lines are the hose paths and the black lines with red indicia are the measured distances in imperial feet.

hose paths & lengths

I have spent my life living and working in small spaces and I think hard about accessibility and ease of procedure. I used the principals of kitchen islands and office work flow centers to create this corn plot layout. I drag whatever hose is connected at the time but I prefer a shorter one. The shortest hose is ancient and kinks up like crazy but one of those new lightweight Pockethoses that have recently hit the markets is much easier to handle.

I love the new hoses, but I don’t like having to disconnect them and store them in a shady spot after each use. They are, however, a really bright green so the chances of mowing over them is greatly decreased. That’s a major hazard around our place. On the plus side, mowing does produce lots of short hoses.

I use drip hoses for the beds that are straight rows. It’s cheap, fun and easy. But it also involves watering where there are no plants. And there are always things that need specific watering as well as plantings in the corners of the fencing or filling the bird bath. I just haven’t wanted to deal with drip hoses strewn throughout the corn plot yet.

The Pocket hoses are connected to make a 100′ length so water can reach the farthest parts of the garden. I have a new plan for corner and fence plantings I’ll share with you all as the growing season progresses. It involves the veggies having their own hammocks. Another use for stash fabrics in the garden? We’ll see.

Dragging heavy duty hose is quite a workout.  The planted garden space is approx 75′ long and 28′ wide and the fenced in space is bigger.    I don’t have far to drag the much shorter corn hose and I don’t need to maneuver it very much for that matter as you can see from the 20′ width and 7′ length of the beds.   Every part of the planting is easily accessible.

hose paths

Once the corn has grown up a couple of feet and has developed a deeper root system that can benefit from flooding the trenches, I can thoroughly irrigate by laying a hose down at the head of the trenches. Squiggley X’s mark the spots in the picture below. As the water’s force moves the soil throughout the growing season I may have to redo the trenches to improve water distribution. Last year I found that plants in the junction of the inner half-circles could be easily washed away. I didn’t plant there this year and may have to reinforce the junction in some way.

hose position for flooding

With the corn planted in a raised or hilled platform the sides are more exposed to the sun and I stick bean seeds into the edges of the platform to maximize the growing potential of the tilled area. I only grow bush beans as heavy pole beans mercilessly pull the corn stalks down.

BTW I saw a old picture of mounded beds in a field in Ireland where the growing platforms like these were arranged in rows and approximately 4′ wide. I can’t find the source now but if I find it I’ll post a link to it. The trenches would have allowed for gravity feed irrigation such as what I’ve used here.

Due to last year’s spotty germination I could plant the summer squashes and cucumbers in with wax beans amongst the corn and put dill and nasturtiums at the ends of the beds. This many sources of nectar drew massive crowds of bumblebees and wasps to pollinate the plot.   These stinging guys made walking barefoot tricky and as things completely over grew the foot paths, it was difficult to see the veggies to harvest them in time before they grew too large.

The huge squash leaves overshadowed the younger corn plants to the point I had to fight to protect them (LOL, such a warrior woman).  Gaely demonstrated the issue in photos taken early last year before the squash leaves grew to be the largest they could be!

Big

Gaely in the Corn

Gaely in the Jungle

Squash gets its own row this year!  I am going to be a bit more lazy and plant only the beans and herbs.  I definitely worked way too hard processing the abundant harvest and can’t stand on my feet in the kitchen for as many hours as it took.  I am hoping that my hips and legs don’t suffer as much this year.  I wonder if the strain and scoliosis in my back ended up contributing to an outbreak of shingles on my leg. Hmmmm, well at my soon to be advanced age of 63 I wouldn’t be surprised. The nerves in the spine are where the virus hangs out.

Anyway, I resolve to be nicer to me this year!

And true to my new goal of being a lazy lady I am not going to try to compute the efficacy of using this space to grow XX number of plants. I’ll leave that to the more inquisitive of us. I just must say that working this plot is incredibly enjoyable, it is magical when the corn towers over me and I’m hidden from view. It is wonderful to look at and even more wonderful to experience. Fantasy land in the suburban back yard.

I am so easily pleased at times.

Tender herbs placed at the ends of each bed means that the hose becomes a lethal weapon if it is dragged across them so I pound in stakes in front of the ends to protect the plantings. Yet again another fantasy imagine: saving the tender young things from the dragon hose.

Dragons
Dragon

It’s so enjoyable to make your own fun, don’t you think???

End of June Garden

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The first tomato to show color is a Better Boy.

First Tomato

The Roma III paste tomatoes are covered with green tomatoes but none have gotten any color yet.

The corn plot is tilled and waiting for the corn seed

Waiting for the corn seed

I like to plant Peaches and Cream corn, a se (sugar enhanced) bi-color hybrid and couldn’t find it locally (shocked, I tell ya) so I had to mail order it. Two years ago I tried Sugar Dots corn but it was small and not as tasty as I wanted

Sugar Dots Corn

Last year 2012 I planted around the first of May and by the 15th I had maybe 30% germination of the corn seeds. Livingston Seeds Company really let me down.

May 15 Sprouts

I mixed cucumbers, squash and beans in with the corn.

Hills and ditches

So I bought more Peaches and Cream seeds (only offered locally by Livingston Seeds) and replanted. But I noticed that many of the original sprouts were stunted and puny.

Puny sprout 2012

Most of the corn sprouts planted in May and early June died.

Squash, Cucumbers & 3 Different Plantings of Corn

After only a few plants coming up I found the same type of seed from a different company and eventually we had a proper corn plot. The photo below is what the corn plot looked like on July 15. It took 3 plantings!

July 20, Corn is tasseling over the squash

This year I will only plant beans among the corn. Bush beans will put nitrogen into the soil. Corn loves nitrogen! If only the seeds will get here soon!

Garlic Gluttony: Killarney Red

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Garlic Killarney Red

Meet my first garlic bulb: Killarney Red, a rocambole type of garlic. One of its marketing points is that it survives wet soil better than most garlics. Chef Shop says its rare and rich and they charge a lot for it.

I ordered 3 kinds of garlic last fall from Burpee for my first foray into growing garlic: Elephant Garlic, shown here with Roma III tomatoes with baby ‘maters on them. The Romas will be caged today even though they are sold as not needing staking or caging.

Roma III tomatoes with elephant garlic

Italian Early, a softneck and milder for eating fresh and Killarney Red, rich garlic flavor for cooking and powder.

When I’m out of garlic I’m stopped in the kitchen and all bets are off. We live 5 miles from town so I wanted to have a stash of garlic. Ya, that’s right. Garlic gluttony.

Killarney Red is said to be hot and fiery, good for making garlic powder. I planted a row and it shares the bed with Italian Early, a softneck and more mild garlic.

Zephr Squash flowers, Garlic with Peas climbing in the background

Scapes grew this spring on the Elephant Garlic and the Killarney Red. The third type of garlic is Italian Early, a softneck which doesn’t produce a scape and is good for braiding. Scapes are beautiful to look at and wonderful to eat. Try them if you see them at the Farmers Market. And then pat yourself on the back and declare yourself one of the luckiest people around!

Filagree scapes

At that time I didn’t cut the scapes from the Killarney Red even though the elephant garlic scapes were soooo delicious and made me want more. I wish now I that I had.

The Burpee packaging said that the Killarney Red scapes would be double looped. I waited for that double loop. It didn’t come. I am finding out that there is lots of misinformation about garlic readily available. I’ll just have to learn on my own! I do think this Canadian grower has good information: Boundary Garlic Farm

Scapes

One day last week after a stretch of dry hot weather the scapes were upright, not looped at all, so I cut all of these very mature scapes and have been peeling their stems much like very mature asparagus stem and cutting up small bits and frying the softest parts in every dish coming out of the Stitchery Kitchen. Oh, yum.

Bunch of Scapes

An upright scape usually signals that the garlic is mature and ready to harvest.

Then it rained and rained as the tornadoes moved eastward from their dirty work in Oklahoma. Our little trenches filled up and flowed.

Trench Still Necessary

I feared the worst: bulbs rotted in the ground.

This morning some of the Killarney Red garlic tops were all brown. Alarmed, I lifted one:

Bulb

No wrapping skins on this one. This was not what I was expecting to see. I expected to see rotted bulbs from all the rain. I will let this one cure along with any more that I harvest today according to the advice given here by Garlic Farm I do trust a serious Canadian grower, don’t you?

Maybe they will become garlic powder one day this summer if they don’t face the frying pan first.

Out of the swamp and into the skillet. Oh, goody!

Surviving the Prune

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The landscape is doing fine in spite of my not being able to say I am a Master Pruner (nor Gardener). Proof:

Blooms after Prune

The Mountain Laurels were moved to a nice cool shady location and set out tons of buds. This is April 15

Mountain Laurels

This is May 14

Happy Mountain Laurel

Now they are blossoming

Mountain Laurels
Happy Mountain Laurels

The Cinco de Mayo shrub roses, which were heavily pruned on April 14

Shrub Roses

Are growing tall,
Cinco de Mayo Roses

budding out and starting to bloom

Cinco de Mayo

The Coral Drift roses are blooming too

Coral Drift

as are the Wing Dings

Wing Dings

The lavender is getting ready to burst forth and bless us

Lavender

as are the cherries, well, actually the cherries will bless the birds. We never get any

Cherries

Montmorency cherries

Almost Ripe Montmorency

Earlier the azaleas were all in full glory.

Azaleas on the Side

This one has been moved 2 times in order to find the right spot for it. It likes being under the holly tree
White Azaleas

This peony has survived in cool shade where the original gardener planted it over 13 years ago but it really needs to move to the sunlight

Peony

Maybe that will be done next year.

I haven’t managed to kill off this Malva even though I’ve tried for 3 years now.

100_3292
Hello!

I finally found some Evening Primrose to plant in a hot but semi shaded and dry location

New Evening Primrose

its got a pretty flower and a faint delicate scent

Primrose Blossoms

Time for a nap :)

Slow Gardening

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10 days of cold weather and way too much rain have made working the soil impossible. I had to tear up my beautifully laid out garden to put in a drainage ditch

Drainage trenches

It didn’t save some of the tomato plants I’d bought. I didn’t start my own seeds indoors this year. RIP goodly tomatoes!

RIP drowned tomatoes

But today it’s over 70 and I pulled the last of the carrots. They’ve been in the ground way too long.

Last Carrots

I am not happy with this year’s crop of carrots. They were too small in winter and now that they reached size they have started to grow a hard core. So much for Nantes Coreless carrots packed in the Ferry Morse Planting Strips. They are rather disappointing. I’ll go back to hand planting my old way and not try to winter over the crop.

I have more tomato plants and some green and hot peppers to put in but will have to wait until the soil dries out more.

I planted Diva cucumber seeds today and dug and transplanted the Zeyphr squash plant seedlings that I started in April. The peas and sugar snap peas seemed to have survived well but I don’t know how the garlic will react to this soggy land. Most of the lettuce seed washed away and will have to be replanted.

Shoveling Mud

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After 2 days of cold rain, flooding in the garden has threatened to drown the new peas, lettuce, zephyr squash and newly planted tomatoes. The garlic aren’t supposed to have poor drainage either, not ever.

Rain Day

I took a couple of hours this morning to dig trenches to drain the water. When I laid the rows out this way we were in a drought cycle and I was focused on holding rain in the rows by leaving the grass in between the rows. Now I have had to drain off the lake that each row became.

Drainage trenches

What a mess! As I worked the trench filled up immediately and water rushed to the back of the garden. Here the rush of water is down by half of what it was. And even now, hours later there is still water running through the trench.

Gaely GoLightly, The Hunting Dog, got into the action by deciding that little particles swirling down the trenches were something that she must capture. She dove right in to her job and worked along beside me. Westies are pack animals and we do everything together

My Helper

Westies are bred to “go to ground” after varmints and love digging in the dirt. No lie. This Westie loves water, too. Bath time!

Someone Needs a Bath

She didn’t want one and she really hates being photographed. Clean Grumpy Dog

After-Bath

And The Dog don’t pose neither.

No Photos Please

She’s so helpful! If I could just teach her to run the vacuum.

Cabbage Ravisher Caught!

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I’ve had very bad luck with computers and internet lately. In fact I’m totally burned out and in spite of being on the very edge, I’m still stubbornly trying to fix things. Now I’m fixing things the repair guys messed up.

OK, I’ll spare you all the major whine brewing in my soul and tell you that we have finally captured the critter that has been eating the cabbages in the garden. And she sleeps in my bed every night.

(These are pictures from last summer)

Gaely in the Garden 2012

Sigh, so cute

Yes, Gaely GoLightly is the prime suspect.

How could that sweet, innocent looking dog be our cabbage ravisher? Any why???? Who knows.

Since we have prevented her access to the garden by blocking off the porch stairs,

Gaely Guarding 2012

not one cabbage has been chomped.

Who Ate the Cabbage Last Night?

I sure hope May is an easier month. I could use some smooth sailing!

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