Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Spent a few minutes in the garden today and just wanted to share an update.

About 80% of the corn is up on the south side (first on just came up today on the North side), the brocolini is coming up, the beets are finally coming up, and we have lots of tomato plants in.  we also have lots of volunteer potatoes coming up.  The boys zucchini came up yesterday and we are almost ready to put in the beans.  The grapes are looking great and I am way excited. . . maybe some white jelly this year!

The compost is doing well, and I expect to have a batch ready next week or so.

I will take a few pictures and get them up in the next few days. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rotating Composter

So $60 and several hours later we have a tumble composter.  The idea is that this sits in the sun to get nice and warm, and then gets rotated daily in order to keep the content aerated and keep the aerobic fauna working on it.  This one is built with a plastic barrel, 1 inch galvanized conduit, some PVC fittings, some 2x6 lumber for a stand and a few scraps of lumber.

Shots from the top and bottom of the lid with the conduit through it and the 2x6 support.

Shots through the door at the yummies inside.  The PVC struts offer, handles on the outside for turning the pile, and they help break up the compost.  Note the holes in the struts to help with aeration.

From the outside with the straps keeping the door closed.  In two weeks we should have some yummies to show.

Update... After 2 days the compost smells like great hummus.  exciting

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Three Sisters

We are trying a new experiment this year, I guess that should come as no surprise I am doing a new experiment every few weeks it seems like.  There is a gardening strategy called companion planting.  Many plants have synergistic "powers", they work together, to provide more than they could on their own.  For example marigolds can be used as a natural pest protection, or basil and chives can improve the flavor of tomatoes when grown in close proximity.  

One of the oldest of these companion plantings is the three sisters, corn, beans and squash.  The Native Americans grew these three together with great success.  The corn provides a stalk for the beans to grow on, the beans foster nitrogen fixing microbes in their roots to feed the nitrogen hungry corn, and the squash provides ground cover to reduce the weeds et cetera.

Today we planted the corn for our three sisters garden.  It is an heirloom black sweet corn that can be eaten early as sweet corn, but then will dry into a black corn for seed and to be ground into meal.  I am way excited for the purple cornbread in the fall.  In about two weeks we hope they will be tall enough to plant the beans and the squash.  Because we are doing it in a square foot garden, we are about a foot short of the normal spacing for the hills.  There are several people who have talked about wanting to do a square foot three sisters garden, but I have not found anyone who actually has done it, so here is the layout.

4x4 squares with 4 corn in a hill on each of the four corner square feet.  Then 1 bean for each corn stalk.  There will be a two squash hill in the center of the 4x4 bed.  We have 5 of these three sisters beds.  There should be lots of squash and hopefully lots of corn and beans.

You can read about the three sisters legends here and here

The boys and I also planted 36 beets and 18 broccolini today.  The carrots and onions are coming up like crazy, and some of the spinach is almost two inches long.  The peas are about 8 inches tall, along with the Mesclun.  There is also a lot of lettuce popping up all over where the cat dug it up and spread it all over the box.  The grapes are leafing out nicely.  The rhubarb is almost ready for a first harvest, mmm pie reminds me of grandma...

I hope to get tomatoes into the ground this week if things stay warm.  We are waiting on pepper starts to come up and we will have them in the ground as soon as they come up.  The winter squash (Hubbard and Pumpkin) will probably go in this week too.  It is a great time in the garden.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Herb Tower or "tippsy pot"

Mom Cummings found this in one of her magazines. We did it in her yard, and it turned out so great, that I did two of them in my yard. Here is the basic premis:

Drive a piece of steel rebar into the ground (I used a 5' long piece of .5" rebar from Home Depot). Don't go too far because you can't really pull it up without sacrificing a lot of stability.

Once you have the Rebar in the ground, add clay pots (the ones with a hole in the center of the bottom) alternating the direction of each one. Once you get them on, check the rebar and if you need to drive it a little bit deeper, take the pots off, hammer it in a little more and then check again.
Most people recomend larger pots on the bottom with same size or smaller pots on top. They even recomend a much larger pot on the bottom, and that it should go on flat, fill it with soil and then add the tipping pots. My rocks and planting bed can take it at any angle so I just started with the first one tipped. When I was checking it out online, I even saw one of these hanging on a rope instead of rebar in the ground, it was pretty cool.

We used some moisture control potting soil since the water will just run out of that little hole. it has pearlite in it to trap the water before it runs out the bottom of the pot.

This should be a fun way to have some fresh herbs all summer, and then the pots can come indoors at the end of the season so we can over winter them.