Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Garden Update

Well it's been a little while since my last garden update and things are continuing along really well.  I'm not really sure what format to do this in so I think I'll just make a list.

  • I did my first big fertilizer feeding about a week ago.  I'm using Garden Tone at the advice of the nursery that I bought all of my seeds and starters from, and it seems to be working really well.  Things were growing on their own, but there has been an incredible growth spurt since fertilizing.  The general process was to dig up a section of soil a few inches away from the roots of the plants, sprinkle fertilizer on top, and work it back in with a small hand shovel.  I let the garden dry a bit so that the soil was easily workable, then I gave it a really good watering afterwards.  For the tomatoes, I did a ring around each plant.  The tomatoes are probably the easiest growth increase to spot:  they have grown 6" or more since getting fertilizer.  They have also blossomed already!.
  • I planted some okra in a box planter.  Supposedly okra grows in single stalks that can be 40" or higher, with pods growing off of the main stalk.  I didn't have any room in the bed garden so I picked up a little box planter and started seeds in there.  I have 2 good stalks coming out, perfectly spaced, so I plan on staking them as they grow upwards and just seeing what happens.  They sprouted really quickly and seem to be very happy.

  • Radishes are doing really well, definitely the most successful vegetable so far.  Here's one of the small rows.  

  • Black eyed peas and Kentucky pole beans continue to be the apples of my eye.  They are growing like crazy.  I didn't have to thin any, which I'm really happy about.  I built a bamboo and twine trellis for them one day with twine lattice for them to climb.  I was really pretty proud of it, considering it's my first attempt at anything like that and I don't consider myself much of a builder, but it turned out well.  The tensile strength was definitely lacking though, and it became very obvious one night when it was really windy.  I could see the trellis sliding from side to side with the wind gusts, so at 11pm, I ran out with a pair of scissors and 2 camping stakes and staked out support runners.  Since then, things are much more stable and the vines are actually tall enough to begin attaching to the first lattice rung.  Here's how I built the trellis:

    - Start with 6 6' and 2 4' bamboo stakes, a large roll of garden twine, and 2 camping stakes
    - Build the supports first by standing them up where they will go, one support (2 stakes) at a time
    - Cross the stakes at the top leaving enough gap for the crossbeam support stakes to rest on top
    - Tie by wrapping twine around the outside and then interlacing inside/outside wraps to firmly secure the two stakes together
    - If you are able to push the stakes into the ground, they can stand on their own.  My yard is too rooted, hence the need for support stakes on the outsides
    - Repeat for each of the supports
    - Lay the crossbeam stakes on top and secure with more twine in the same fashion as before, interlacing and tying well to secure
    - You should have a free standing frame now
    - If you need support stakes, drive the camping stake into the ground a couple of feet away from the outside supports.  Take a very long piece of twine, tie a loop in one end, and run the twine between the stake and the support.  You can then run the loose end of twine through the looped end and pull until the line is taut.  Tie off the line either on the bamboo stakes or on the twine itself
    - Build the lattice by running twine parallel to the ground in regular distances.  I used the little knots in the bamboo as supports for the twine so that it didn't slide down the bamboo, it worked out that with that method I had new lines every 6" or so.  Keep the line as tight as possible, wrap twine around the middle support stake to keep the line taught if you have to
    - Build the vertical lattice support by taking one long piece of twine and tying it to the very bottom horizontal lattice twine.  Wrap it around each level of lattice until you get to the top.  Tighten the line and adjust each level as necessary so they stay relatively parallel with the ground.  Tie off at the top on the crossbeam support.  Do this for both sides.
    - That's it!  You now have a mediocre-to-suitable garden trellis for about $12.

somewhat ghetto trellis

black eyed peas

Kentucky blue pole beans

  • The last bit of garden news concerns my peppers.  For a long time, I assumed that they were a lost cause.  I planted them in the soil despite the package instructions specifically stating to start them indoors.  After 2 weeks of nothing, I assumed that conditions weren't right for them to grow outside and that it was a lost cause.  But lo and behold, they have proven me wrong.  Both Thai chile and poblano have decided to make an appearance, and I am really excited about it.  They are not planted in rows or anything, because they own a small corner of the garden.  I plan to keep one or two plants after thinning, with the hopes that they will become good sized bushes and keep to their corners.

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