What I Did This Weekend

I am pleased to say I survived to tell the story of getting my square foot garden beds ready for planting.  I originally thought I would build one trellis bed and one 4 x 8 bed, in hindsight I think I should have stuck to the plan.  But, being the good American I am, if 1 is good 2 is better.   I decided to forgo the original plan and build two trellis beds and two 4 x 8 beds.  These beds were in the overall plan, see the original sketch here.  But deciding to do this over one weekend in the hottest part of the year maybe wasn’t so smart, but I figured, what the heck, I can do it.  I purchased my supplies Friday afternoon so that Saturday morning I would be ready to get to work.  I placed a few flags indicating where the beds would go and I was ready.

I was so proud of myself I thought I had all the kinks worked out.  I had a plan for where each bed would go and had purchases all my materials.  But when I finished mapping out all the beds and put a line level across the area I realized I had a 15 inch differential from top to bottom. (you can hardly see the pink string with a line level in this picture)

What to do??  Raise the lower part of the beds with more wood or dig the higher part down in order to level the beds.  I had planned to raise the beds 10 inches.  However,  if I left the top of the beds 10 inches then the lower part of the front left hand bed would end up being 17 inches off the ground.  Not only would that require a lot of dirt to fill it but I didn’t think I would like the way it looked.  My only other option was to dig the top part of the bed down, this I knew would be a lot of work but it had to be done.  So Saturday morning I started cutting wood and building the boxes.

All the boxes are built and put in place.

Next my helper and I removed the sod and leveled the boxes.

Finally the two 4 x 8 boxes were ready for dirt.  I would mix my own blend of dirt based on Mel Bartholomews directions from Square Foot Gardening.

Here is a picture of what it looked like after all the mixing was done.

Sunday all that was left was to level the two trellis beds, mix more dirt, and fill all the boxes.  I placed the soil from my old garden in the bottom of the beds and then approximately 4 to 5 inches of the good stuff on the top.

After this was done I took the trellis from the old garden and reused it.  If you notice in the first picture the PVC was white so I painted it with green plastic paint. I wired the plastic fence to the poles and finally I was finished.  Wow, what a weekend!!  After all the hard work next comes the fun part, planting…

What Goes Where

Below I have a sketch of what I will be planting in my new square foot garden.  Some seeds will be planted ASAP and others in September.  By the end of the weekend I hope to have two beds ready for seeds, in hopes that the seeds I ordered have arrived.  Thankfully, I have a few extra squares as I am doing some seed exchanging with Mimi from gardening in the boroughs of nyc.  I will need some extra space for these plants, which are not in the sketch. Planting veggies at this time of year seems so foreign to me, but I am very excited about it.  The frost date for my area is Nov. 20 giving me 17 weeks, which should be enough for all the veggies.  As I have never done this I am curious, how will the plants do as the weather cools?  Will I get the same yield as I did with my regular garden?  I will keep you posted.

Garden layout

Take Me Back

It never ceases to amaze me how a smell, a sound or even a plant can take us back in time.   The plant for me is a geranium.  Every time I see a geranium it reminds me of a flower bed from my youth.  Why this plant, more so than others, that’s the mystery.  But I love geraniums.  Finally, I seem to have found a spot where they seem to be perfectly content, and lucky for me its on my front porch.

Geranium on Porch

Geranium

Now believe it or not the bottom picture is a flower from the above plant just taken at a different time of day.  The top picture was taken in the middle of the day whereas the bottom picture was taken at dawn.  So I guess they’re right when they tell you timing is everything. 🙂  What plants bring back fond memories for you?

Where’s the Garden

After many hours of measuring, I finally have a drawing of my lot and a decision as to where the Garden will go.

Here is a layout of what the garden will look like when all the beds have been installed.  I will start with one trellis bed and one 4 x 8 bed and slowly add.

Let the Journey Begin

I have spent the last few days making a list of what to do to start my 4 season garden.  If anyone out there has any suggestions I am open for any help I can get.

1.  Get planting schedule for area.  If you live in Northwest Florida here is a great website to get these dates.

2.  Figure out where garden will go.  When I first moved into this home there was grass covering the entire 1/2 acre lot, except the 5 bushes planted by the front entrance.  At the time I had no plan for where beds, ponds, or garden, ect. would go.  So I made a bed along the far edge of the East side and planted my garden.  I was sure of one thing, and that is I did not want to put in a garden, which will consist of raised beds, and then have to move it.

3.  Decide what plants I want to plant for the second summer planting and then for the fall planting.

4.  Re-read “Square Foot Gardening”.  This is the method of gardening I will be using.

5.  Get garden beds ready for planting.  Since time is of essence to start my late summer garden, I am planning on starting with just a few beds and then add more over time.

6.  Start seeds that can be started indoors.

Change is coming

It seems that I am on my two week anniversary of starting my blog.  I must admit that I did not check out other gardeners blogs before jumping in head first to start my own.  I didn’t really think any one would find my blog for a very long time, so I figured I had plenty of time to putter around and figure out exactly what direction this blog would take.  But to my surprise and delight a few people have seen my blog and some even commented, wow thanks!!

In the past two weeks I have read more blogs especially garden blogs, then I ever  knew existed, okay sometimes I live under a rock. 🙂  One post I read “Someday is a Dangerous Word” has just stayed with me.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe because I have a milestone birthday approaching or maybe it’s just time to act.  Here are a few of my “somedays” that I feel now is the time to take care of:

Someday I will do all my gardening organically.  I do a large portion organically already just haven’t been able to cross that final line.

Someday I will become a Master Gardener.  This class is in the  winter and come hell or high water I will be there.

Someday I will try to grow most of my own food, now this is a big one for me.  I have for many years had what I would like to consider a successful summer garden, but now I want to turn that into a 4 season garden.

I will be following with blogs chronicling my journey to the organic side and what, I hope, will become  my self sustaining garden.

Lotus Pot Find

Don’t you just love it when you score a great find you weren’t even actively looking for.  I guess that is what makes garage saling so much fun!  I was on my way to work on Saturday and saw a sign for a garage sale.   I couldn’t just not stop, so stop I did.  I found these wonderful large black tubs that will be absolutely perfect for my lotus.  When I bought my lotus from Texas Water Lilies the directions stated to use a pot without holes.  I did not have such a pot, so I used what I had, a 7 gal. pot with holes.  I have since learned there is a reason they tell you to use a pot without holes.  I keep fighting with my lotus to keep it from taking over the end of the pond where it is.  I may be wrong but I  think it has stopped blooming because it is using it’s energy to take over and not bloom.I have been wondering where in the world I would find a large pot without holes.  Well, I found my pot, 2 for $5, what a great find!!  🙂

Lotus Pots

Lotus

Aphids on Gourd

I walked out to my pond to feed my koi this morning, when I noticed some yellow spots on my volunteer gourd plant.  Upon closer inspection I noticed it was infested with aphids.  I will not claim to never use chemicals in my garden but I would say for the most part, I do not.  This is why I will be spraying the aphids with a 1% soap mixture to kill them.  In other words, use two Tablespoons of dishwashing liquid per gallon of water.  Spray to the point of runoff and make sure you get the underside of the leaves, especially when they are as bad as on my poor gourd plant.   The University of Florida has a great article if you want further reading.

Feeding Koi

Yellow spots on gourd leaves

Aphids on Gourd

Quote for Today

“Kind hearts are the gardens, Kind thoughts are the roots, Kind words are the flowers, Kind deeds are the fruits, Take care of your garden And keep out the weeds, Fill it with sunshine Kind words and kind deeds”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Bamboo: To love or not to love

I must admit that I have always had very strong feelings toward Bamboo.  If you had asked me just 6 months ago,  would I ever consider planting bamboo in my garden, I would have adamantly said, “over my dead body.”  This was because I did not know there was anything other than running varieties of bamboo.  As a matter of fact, my neighbor from my previous house, came by one day to show me his beautiful bamboo he had gotten via mail order.  It took all the restraint I had not to shake him and ask, ” Are you kidding me?  You should have asked me if  I wanted that in my garden as well.”  But thankfully a leveler head prevailed, and I agreed it was “nice.”   But then about 6 months ago I saw some Bambusa Oldhami in a friend’s garden and fell in love.   I promptly returned home to do some research and to my surprise, and pleasure, I learned how bamboo is not all running  but there are clumping varieties as well.  I was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to get my hand on some of my own.   I found Boo for You ,a local bamboo dealer, and was off to purchase some bamboo.  I bought  Bambusa Textiles, Weavers Bamboo.

The photo on the left is me with my newly planted bamboo and on the right what hopefully someday it will look like.