Sunday, May 25, 2008

Beautiful Day for Gardening

It was a beautiful day to be outside enjoying the yard and garden. The temperature was in the mid-70s with a gentle breeze. A number of errands kept me from being outside as much as I would have liked, but I did take some time to snap some photos. The first photo shows how I am hardening off plants on my porch prior to planting them in the garden boxes. The wash tub protects the plants from wind and nibbling critters (bunnies mostly, I suspect). The second picture shows the Sea Holly 'Blue Jackpot' flower I planted yesterday (Thank you again, Amber, it is such a neat plant!). Next is a picture of strawberries blooming in an old stock watering tank and some of our irises in the background. The final picture are some yellow irises I call our "farmhouse irises." This is because these flowers were rescued by my husband from an old farmstead that was being razed for a new subdivision. My husband couldn't stand to see them bulldozed and managed to get them in time. They are beautiful flowers and I just love them. I'd like to think the farm wife who planted them years ago would be happy we have them. They are planted near a bench in the garden which is a peaceful place to sit and relax. What a great day. I wish we could have more days just like this one!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Great Day for Gardening

Today was a beautiful day in the 70s and just perfect for gardening. I took advantage of the nice weather to trim grass away from the irises and pull what seems like hundreds of weeds. I was also able to get the sea holly flower my oldest gave me for Mother's Day planted, as well as a Jacob's Ladder plant. The coreopsis plants are showing off their cheerful golden flowers, and there is one open blossom on the clematis 'Niobe' vine. The white clematis is climbing its way up the bird house pole in the herb garden and will be showing off its beautiful blooms in a day or two. I've seen a lot of orange Oriental Poppies blooming in the area, but mine aren't quite ready. All in all, it was a lovely day to enjoy working in the yard.

The plants in the garden boxes are looking pretty good overall. I did go ahead and pull out a couple of cucumber plants that have given up and planted new seeds. I also replaced the Red Star tomato with an unknown heirloom variety I am calling "Buffalo Springs." The name comes from the Buffalo Springs Herb Farm in Virginia that Nick and I visited in September 2007. We enjoyed a wonderful herbal luncheon there which included slices of heirloom tomatoes. Being a weird seed-saving type of person who thinks seeds and plants make great souvenirs, I couldn't resist saving some of the tomato seeds in a napkin to take home. This spring I planted several of the seeds and they all came up. It will be fun to see what kinds of tomatoes the plants produce. I'm especially glad now that I saved the seeds. Earlier this spring we received an e-mail that the farm is closing. We were so sorry to get this sad news because he had hoped to go back and visit the farm again in the future. The stop at the farm was one of many on an herb-themed bus trip we took, and we were not able to spend as much time there as we would have liked. We always thought we would go back again one day soon. At least we got to see it once. Here are some pictures from our visit to Buffalo Springs.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Where's Summer?

It is still unseasonably cold, and it is raining again. Last night when I checked on the plants, one cucumber and one tomato looked as though they'd had enough. I blame the weather for this, not the garden boxes. If the cucumber plant doesn't make it, I will try direct seeding another one. It will be good to have a younger plant in the box anyway, to extend the season, instead of having them all the cucumbers come on at once. I have some extra tomato plants still under lights if I need to replace any in the boxes. I haven't planted any tomatoes in the ground yet.

The cool seasons crops planted in the garden boxes -- cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts -- all look great. They are being protected from the rabbits by a makeshift fence of plastic chicken wire for now. I want to get some concrete blocks or landscaping stones to get the boxes up higher off the ground. Something keeps nibbling on the pansies in my barrel planter, so I know they could reach the plants in the garden boxes.

Yesterday evening we enjoyed some fresh lettuce grown in one of my raised beds, along with some spring onions. There is no better salad on earth than the one you grow yourself!

This weekend I hope to get some finished compost from our composter and mix it in the garden where I want to plant my "in-ground" tomatoes. It will be fun to compare the traditionally planted ones to the ones in the boxes. I will also be planting beans in the ground, but I'm waiting for the soil to warm a bit more. I can put the "walls of water" teepees around the tomatoes and they'll do fine even though it is still a bit cool, but the beans have to wait. I also hope to get the landscape cloth and mulch down so I can arrange the garden boxes and have the garden area look nice. Right now it looks pretty disorganized. I also want to plant some flowers in the garden around the boxes. Once again, I'm hoping the weather will cooperate so I can cross a lot of things off my to-do list.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Brrr! It was cold and rainy today. When I took the dog out to his pen this morning there was actually some thin ice on top of his water dish. Some of the plants looked a little worse for the wear after the cold night. The weather is unseasonably cool this spring--normally it is safe to start putting tomatoes and other warm weather plants outside by May 15 in this part of Indiana. This evening I covered all of the more tender plants with clay flower pots to give them some protection against the cold night. I will remove my makeshift cloches in the morning and hope for warmer day.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Making Progress

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Today I got 7 of the 10 garden boxes planted. It was a lot of work! It took quite a bit of time to fill each of the boxes with the garden mix. Still, it really was fun, and I can't wait to watch them grow.

Here is a picture of a box filled with soil, prior to planting.

Here is a box planted with cauliflower and broccoli:

Here is the configuration of the boxes I have planted so far:
  • 4 Brussels Sprouts and 4 cabbage (Golden Acre)
  • 4 purple cauliflower and 4 broccoli (Pacman)
  • 2 Husky red tomatoes
  • 1 Orange Strawberry tomato and 1 Red Star tomato
  • 1 eggplant and Robert's Best Black tomato
  • 3 Italian parsley, 1 Banana Bill Pepper, and 1 icebox watermelon
  • 4 Fordhook zucchini and 4 cucumbers
I am still a bit concerned about how full the boxes are, but I think I have to follow the instructions and planting guides that came with the boxes and have faith. I can always change how I plant things next year if I am not happy with this year's results.

Each garden box comes with two tubes of water soluable fertilizer that lay on top of the planting mix, under the plastic cover. The plastic cover itself has a guide on the back that shows you where to cut the holes for correct plant spacing. It was a bit difficult to put the plants directly under where you cut the holes. I also noticed that the holes they show to cut are going to be too small once the plants start to grow, but it will be no problem to cut them larger when necessary. I had to cut some holes larger at the start, such as for the parsley.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Starting Down the Path

Friday, May 16, 2008

I decided to start a blog when my garden boxes arrived from After years of gardening the traditional way, I decided to try garden boxes to bring back the fun of gardening. Now that I have fewer hours to play in the dirt, and pulling weeds and fighting bunnies has lost some of its appeal, I have decided to give garden boxes a try. Friends, co-workers, neighbors, and fellow gardeners have asked me to keep them posted on how they work. Keeping a blog seems like a good way to share my successes and failures with the boxes, as well as a more fun way to keep records for myself.

I am happy to say the garden boxes were very easy to assemble. I had all 10 of them put together in under an hour. I was a bit alarmed at how shallow the actual planting box is. You can really grow two tomato plants in one of these? We'll see how it goes...

While researching the boxes I read that you should use only potting mix--not potting soil, which is too heavy, and only potting mix that does not contain plant food. We were able to find potting mix without fertilizer at Lowe's. Now that the boxes have arrived, the instructions say it is OK to use potting mix with plant food. The mix with plant food is certainly easier to find. I still need more planting mix, so I think I'll go ahead and get the Miracle Grow kind, and mix them half and half.

I have decided to place the garden boxes in my vegetable garden, so my job for tomorrow is to pull up the early weeds, lay down the weed barrier, and arrange the plant boxes. I hope the rain stays away until at least late Sunday!