Sunday, May 15, 2011

planting hope

Garden fever is setting in. It's mid May, there's a gentle rain outside, and my spring-planted crops are coming up in spades. Hell, the Arrowhead lettuce actually looks like spades. With peas, garlic, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, onions, rhubarb, and strawberries planted: this place is starting to look more alive than ever.

Today (if the rain stays light and steady) I plan on putting in another 4x4 bed dedicated to future tomatoes and then hoeing up a long bed for pumpkins and sweet corn. (I have bags and bags of potatoes yet to plant, but I will get as many in this week as possible.) I think once I start getting the heavy guns like squash in the ground I need to start really upping the ante on garden protection. I'm going to put an electric fence around the top sections, and hope the raised bed wood with some small ground fencing will help with the rabbits and groundhogs. Hope, being the operative word. Last year in May I had a great garden started as well, and it didn't take long for those dreams to die.

But what is vegetable gardening if it isn't hope? You spend all this enegery creating this plan, and even at its most basic level: is a pretty brassy ordeal. A garden is telling the whole world "Hey, I'm going to be around a while, and probably get hungry eventually." It affirms life in a proximity to your own home and that sure is a beautiful thing. Even with the soil so far caked into the cracks of my hands I can't wash it out, it is beautiful.

What are you guys planting?
And any advice for saving my garden from the animal army?


Blogger Hound Doggy said...

I've got tomatoes, peppers and eggplant for the parents. I'll eat some tomatoes and maybe one pepper....not a fan. OH and green beans...almost forgot about those.
I've also got strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and a peach tree.
For critter protection around here I've got a beagle and mini dauchshund and cats.
I have just put in a raised bed. I've had tomatoes in pots for years.

I'm in MO and single and live in town. I don't need much and I really don't enjoy it much.....but I do enjoy a good BLT.

Good luck on your critter protection. I find in general they are a lot smarter than I am. :)

May 15, 2011 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Lelainia N. Lloyd said...

My husband has already planted a sizeable part of our garden here on the west coast of Canada. We've got beets, cukes, lettuce, squash, potatoes (pontiacs), peas, beans, carrots, chives, onions, turnips, spinich and three new blueberry bushes. I don't think he's done adding things yet. There will also be peppers and tomatoes to come at the very least. We garden organically.

Usually we grow more than we can eat, so some gets donated to the local food bank and some of our friends and neighbours are treated to "drive by fruiting" (well veggie and fruiting). They often come home to grocery bags hung on their doorknobs with a variety of edibles inside.

Apparently, if you take human hair from your hair brush and spread it out around your plants, it's supposed to deter animals from raiding your garden. Not sure how well this works...

May 15, 2011 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger donna322 said...

I am in admiration of all that you are accomplishing! I live in the "big city" of Glens Falls so therefore only have a small 10x10 plot at a community garden. I have kale,brocolli,lettuce,onions,peas and radishes for a start and I have tomatoes,greenbeans and cukes that I started from seed waiting for the warmer weather. For the animal deterrent? Well...plant enough for everybody! Can I visit you at the farm someday?

May 15, 2011 at 10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We've got everything but eggplant I think. And the rabbits have already been staging a war against the garden. You should plant some habaneros...dehydrate them this fall then early next spring, boil them in water, and then spray that fire water around your garden and plants. IF anything bites once, it'll either combust or remember not to come back. :)

May 15, 2011 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger Kara said...

Here in Kentucky it's been seriously wet but we have managed to get the potatoes in (I'm from Idaho so these are a must!)as well as corn, green beans, cukes, toms, peppers, herbs, pumpkins, melons, peas, blackberries & sunflowers. We put in apple, apricot, and nectarine trees back in March. It's too late and wet for the brassicas for now but will try late summer for a good crop in the fall. We have 2 labs,2 cats and a 5 foot fence that seem to deter most critters from our 30x40 plot? Happy plantings!

May 15, 2011 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger KnitItBlack said...

I'm SO LATE on getting a lot of my garden in - it's been too wet! Onions, peas and root crops are doing well, though. As for keeping critters at bay - last year I bought crystallized coyote urine and sprinkled it around the perimeter of the garden and it worked! No more critters digging up and eating my food!

May 15, 2011 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger kylieps said...

You guys are well ahead of me here in CNY. I've finally got the potatoes in the ground, and I've got seedlings of peas, 5 different types of kale, several different pumpkins and squash saying "get me in the dirt!"
I find the dog really keeps some of the garden predators at bay, but this year I'm putting up some serious electrical fencing.

May 15, 2011 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It's been a cold wet spring here in SE Wisconsin. The sugar snap peas I started at the end of March are only a couple of inches high, and my lettuce and spinach are just as short. Living in the city, I don't have much of an animal eating my produce problem, except for the rabbits. I do have a dog, though, and that keeps the nibbling to a minimum.

May 15, 2011 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Toby said...

4' tall poultry wire and tree stakes. We have chickens Muscovy ducks and turkeys and that does the trick.

May 15, 2011 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger Bex said...

I've been planting since about mid-April because we pretty much have no spring here on the high plains of New Mexico. Just straight to summer time. I've got tomatoes, peppers, onions, sunflowers, radishes, beans, carrots, eggplant, and corn planted so far. I've got another garden plot started and will get that one planted up too. With what? I'm not sure yet. I'll figure something out I'm sure.

Good luck on your critter problems. I've got it easy here. I've got my garden space within a high fence so the only critters I have to keep out are the chickens (pests that they are).

May 15, 2011 at 11:54 AM  
Blogger PurrfectPetSitting said...

This is my first year with a 'real' garden. My dad plowed enough in his garden so I had a plot too. I have planted corn, broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts, wax beans, cucumbers, yellow squash, butternut squash and onions so far. I will be adding tomatoes and peppers soon. In pots I have some carrots and lettuce going. We put up a 7 foot deer fence around ours to deter the critters. It's raining here near Albany, NY too.

May 15, 2011 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Lauren said...

One of my favorite quotes:

"A garden is a way of showing that you believe in tomorrow." - unknown

I am wishing for the rain to stop... it is more like a monsoon and the yard/garden is tilled but flooded.

We only have strawberries, asparagus, onions, and a few bush peas planted at this point. Ohio is experiencing more than record rain fall... still the dream is alive in my seedlings safely in the green house.

May 15, 2011 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger ddu said...

I'm jealous of your rich-looking soil. One day I'll keep rabbits just to harvest droppings and amend our red clay. In Piedmont NC my greens are almost done, the arugula has bolted into bodacious white blooms, and the potatoes are about to flower. Tomatoes are settling in, and the bean beetles have found my Scarlet Runners. Our community garden keeps deer at bay with cheap Tiki lanterns filled with kerosene; apparently, deer find the smell noxious. Best wishes!

May 15, 2011 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger Sonya said...

I'm an American living in The Netherlands and we only do container gardening..there is limited space here and I can only dream of having a farm! We are growing..all in pots and in a green house: 16 various pepper plants,lemon cucumbers,eggplants,regular cucumbers,eight-ball zucchini,peas and green striped tomatoes.

I hope you are able to figure the animal problem out and not lose all of your veggies!

May 15, 2011 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

If it ever stops raining here in Western Ky I'll be planting 3 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, tri colored peppers, cucs, zucs, beans and peas, in our tiny garden. We have wild blackberry bushes that line the back of our property. I'd like to put in some blueberry bushes to go with them, and maybe plant some fruit trees too.

We're thinking of fencing the garden to keep out unwanted guests....we'll see if it works.

May 15, 2011 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Here in central Indiana, our wet weather has put my garden behind schedule. Collards, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, and peas are trying to grow. Green beans, peppers and tomatoes went into the ground earlier this month. My rhubarb is ready to start harvesting, while lemon balm, oregano and parsley are growing like pet weeds. Hoping that some strawberries will be ready to pick in a few weeks. No advice on deterring critters. In our suburban yard, a fence and a golden retriever who likes to chase small furry creatures do the job.

May 15, 2011 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger TransFarmer said...

reuse soapy water to water your plants it helps keep pests off of them. we would use a basin in the sink and bathroom to catch our water when we washed our hands and throw it out in the garden and it would cut down on insect problems.

sand paper or steel wool around the base of some plants will help with slugs, as well as beer or milk in a container that will attract them and drown them.

you probably won't do this or like it, but urine. urine is a great way to keep critters away and it is full of nitrogen. you can dilute it and put it around plants, or you can use full strength to mark boundaries to keep critters away.

May 15, 2011 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I have two kinds of green beans in the ground,as well a bell peppers, broccoli and eggplant. Today I bought cabbage, lemon basil and a red raspberry bush. I just made it home before the rain started, so they won't get planted today.
I also have herbs: regular basil, thyme,oregano,lemon balm,and lavender.
I don't have too many problems with critters, except for the occasional squirrel pilferage. My pellet guy has been known to solve that one...

May 15, 2011 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger damnyankee said...

I've got potatoes, tomatoes, 4 different kinds of peppers, a variety of lettuce, both yellow and zuccini squash and beets which are taking their sweet time. I've had to replant tomotoes three times and lettuce and squash twice due to drought conditions and wind. You are blessed with the rain in the north east. Here in the south, even though I was hand watering with well water nothing works like the magic of nature's rain. Your crops look beautiful. I have no critter protection except a couple of solar powered lights placed strategically in the garden. I have two cats that I caught feasting on a pair of baby bunnies the other night. It was pretty gruesome. But nature is cruel sometimes.

May 15, 2011 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger kippy said...

Our small urban raised bed garden is in an approximately 20x20 ft. area. We are in the Pacific Northwest. I fenced the garden off using thick black plastic mesh which has a diamond pattern. Neighbor used the mesh as a temporary fence and was going to throw it out. The mesh is ziptied to 2x2 posts surrounding the area, except where there is a rickety gate. Tomatoes, carrots, radishes, corn, peas, beans, onions and garlic! Now if I could just find a better gate....

May 15, 2011 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I second the "cold wet spring in Wisconsin" - my lettuce and pea plants are miserably short, and I've been toting my basil and other sprouts inside every night.

I wholeheartedly recommend a cat, well-fed but allowed access to the outdoors. Our garden pest problem virtually eliminated itself after Honey arrived... The only downside is you'll need to fence (and mesh ceiling) the chicks until they're large enough not to be bothered by a roaming feline.

Prior to our cat showing up unexpectedly and making herself at home, I had some success spreading a thick layer of dog fur across the tops of my pots (they don't call 'em German Shedders for nothing!). I'm sure between your three pups you have fur to spare. It looks weird, but can't hurt anything.

May 15, 2011 at 1:29 PM  
Blogger City Sister said...

We're attempting to keep the deer at bay with marigolds...I hope it works...I also grow a lot of hostas in the shade of my bigger plants...the deer love the hostas and will eat them instead of my dear (haha) veggies.

May 15, 2011 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

We are "hoping" that the gully washer that put our 5 day old garden completely underwater last night (the huge puddle is gone today)will not be fatal to our plants. Unfortunately it is still raining here today.
On protection from critters: We are going to try two approaches. Strong fishing line down low and up at about 3 feet and slightly less conventional....I want to try pouring some of our urine around the garden peremiter to scare animals away? If you can't beat them, piss on them!!! LOL!

May 15, 2011 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger admin said...

Planting okra today down in AZ and have tomatoes coming in for harvest. Up in South Dakota I tried blood meal to prevent the rabbits—they were wonderful about getting through/under my fence. Blood meal worked… I RELIGIOUSLY sprinkled it all around my plants, but then the little ground squirrels started wreaking havoc and I never found a true solution to that one—good luck!

May 15, 2011 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger Meredith said...

We are concentrating on the things we know we like to eat this season - potatoes, peas, beans, tomatoes and peppers. I also have made more space for growing pumpkins and ornimental gourds for fall decoration as these things can cost a fortune come fall.
Although we do not seem to have a great deal of animal garden invasion, I do like to use a very light poultry netting to protect some things. I put 4' high stakes (wood, plastic, bamboo) on each corner for the garden bed and drape a big piece of the netting over it. I secure the netting to the stakes with twine and put some rocks along the bottoms of each side. It seems to work for me when I find that someone has been snacking without permission.

May 15, 2011 at 3:06 PM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

My two critter problems are voles and rabbits. The rabbits are kept at bay with 1" chicken wire. I've also learned I cannot mulch with straw. Straw mulch is a vole magnet and they will destroy entire plantings of carrots, beets, and potatoes. Then there are the slugs...I'm experimenting with polycultures this year, a mix of several varieties (lettuce, radishes, carrots, parsnips, marigolds, etc.) all scattered on the bed rather than planting in neat rows. The idea being to confuse pests rather than plant in monocropped garden sections that just invite devastation. We'll see.

For temporary fencing I use 2' high 1" poultry netting with bamboo stakes woven through and pushed into the ground. That should be enough to deter rabbits. I'm working on a permaculture "food forest" and have used this technique around my new serviceberries, elderberries, nannyberries, paw-paws, and ground cherries.

May 15, 2011 at 3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May 15, 2011 at 3:10 PM  
Blogger Jimmie said...

Here in Piedmont North Carolina, I have tomatoes, cucumbers, green and lima beans, potatoes, rhubarb, Alpine strawberries, onions, garlic, stevia, parsley, sorrel, basil, comfrey, St. John's wort, lemon balm, blackberry lily, sage, lavender, Russian sage, apple mint, rosemary, Joe Pye weed, borage and bronze fennel.

To add to the "planting hope", I'm watching several cocoons of praying mantis. I've seen a few extremely small mantises (plural?) only about 1/2" long. Just the cutest things. I hope they stay around.

As far as critter protection, I have the garden fenced in, but it won't stop the deer if they ever find out there's a garden nearby. They usually are content to graze in the pasture and feast on the pears late in the fall. My posture is that I try to plant enough of everything so that I can share with the critters. I don't do much spraying and just hope for the best. I do pick off bad bugs and slugs and put them in our dirt lane for the bluebirds...speaking of which, there are five little eggs in one of the boxes just now. Talk about hope!!!

The bronze fennel is for the Monarch - both the butterflys and the caterpillars. Just this morning I noticed that one of the dozen or so caterpillars who have been eating the fennel has begun the process of becoming a chrysalis. I hope to watch the whole process from start to finish!! The Joe Pye weed also attracts butterflies.

The comfrey leaves will be chopped and added to water to steep for a few weeks to make a great nitrogen rich fertilizer. The blackberry lilies should be pretty this fall. After it flowers, the pods look exactly like clusters of shiny blackberries and are great in dried arrangements.

Every few days I pick a small handful of Alpine strawberries. They are super sweet, but I don't have many plants, so a tiny treat is all I get. Still worth the effort, though.

Good luck with your "planting hope" too.


Diane in North Carolina

May 15, 2011 at 3:32 PM  
Blogger sheila said...

Electric wire top and bottom should deter almost every garden stealing creature. Lettuce looks beautiful. Better start harvesting now while the leaves are tiny.

May 15, 2011 at 3:37 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

Before the spring monsoon here on the coast of Maine, I managed to get 5# of potatoes in Thurs evening. I'm trying the grow the spuds in the compost pile method. Certainly with bunnydoo, chicken house litter, grass clippings and leaves there should be ample nutrients to make spuds happy. I have two slicing and 2 paste tomato, broccoli, kale, lettuce and squash seedlings to plant. There will be more things to fill my 25x50 garden plus 2 8x 15 plots next to the back of my house.
Knock on wood, I don't have critter damage. The deer don't come into the yard and even the bear that was within 25 feet of the property line didn't come in. I think the smell of 4 German Shepherds is a deterrent. For smaller animals, my Maine Coon cat takes his job seriously. Now if someone can come up with a way to keep Jap Beetles away, I'll pay for it. They ruined my pole beans last year.

May 15, 2011 at 3:39 PM  
Blogger Sherrill said...

It really sounds like you have got it covered as far as protection from feeding all the wildlife.

Just the basics here: tomato and pepper plants, acorn squash, zuc's, peas, green bean, onions, garlic (last fall and looking great).

Lavendar is looking good this year, as well as my fruit trees, blueberries, and raspberries.

May 15, 2011 at 4:44 PM  
Blogger Zaira said...

I love the way rows of lettuce look planted all neatly on top of a soil mound <3

The soil around here is awful so we've got raised beds going. The zucchini are already in full production mode; my fridge is full of them! Our peppers, beans, tomatoes and watermelon are coming along nicely. Just planted some eggplant and our peas and green onions are chugging along.

Already planning the next round for late summer, can't wait!

May 15, 2011 at 5:10 PM  
Blogger Natalie said...

Lettuce looks gorgeous! I can't wait to cut the first salad out of my experimental lettuce containers this year. Also very pumped about trying the heirloom Romanesco broccoli for the first time.

Also, kind of weird, but I've heard that human urine helps deter lots of unwanted four-leggeds. I read an article where people in the UK peed on straw bales to get their compost kick-started and then put it on the garden, but they noticed they had very little animal pest problems that year. So there's always that... You could throw a party and tell all the guys to get to work on them, I guess?

May 15, 2011 at 5:53 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

Your lettuce looks great! We have a 50x50 garden. After 16 years of doing everything we could to deter the critters, including pepper spray, urine and electric wire, we broke down and bought 6' fencing. We used locust posts and ran the fence around, for added measure, we left the rabbit fencing that was already there along the bottom. This year we are running an electric wire across the top of the fence. The fence seems to have deterred the deer, but the racoons tore apart our corn last year. My husband also bought 8 little battery operated units that have a flashing LED that is supposed to frighten racoons, we'll see.

We grow corn, 12 different varieties of tomatoes (30 total plants, 14 varieties of peppers (40 total plants), zucchini,spaghetti squash,green beans, cucumbers,peas, chard,rhubarb, lettuce and many herbs. That is all inside the fence. We have several fruit trees, 5 blueberry bushes and we have a beautiful raspberry patch and this year we planted thornless blackberries. We garden organically and are very excited to see how the garden grows this year. Last year was our best year ever. Good luck!

May 15, 2011 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger Sue Sullivan said...

I've got broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, bok choi, lettuce, carrots, spinach and (fool that I am) tomatoes in the ground so far. Waiting in the wings, or pots, as it were, are hot and sweet peppers, summer and winter squash, corn, zukes, pumpkins, gourds and a luffa or two for kicks. I've scattered herb and flower seeds among the crops and keep finding myself weeding all these little sprouts up before I remember, so I don't know what will actually survive my unintentional attacks. Oh, and the strawberry and raspberry perennial beds are looking great and the apple, cherry and pear trees have lots of blossoms.
I don't have deer problems being in a suburban yard, but I did read that running fishing line around your garden, at two levels (2 feet and 4 feet? I don't remember the height exactly) will freak out the deer because they can't see it in the dark but they can feel it. You might try that around your gardens.

May 15, 2011 at 7:35 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I love reading these!!

May 15, 2011 at 7:39 PM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

Has anybody tried companion planting? I've read a little about it but haven't tried it yet. Supposedly if you plant the right combination, it helps to deter bugs and also each plant helps the other grow.

May 15, 2011 at 9:41 PM  
Blogger Brenda said...

I have used Rabbit Scram successfully to keep squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits out of my garden. You can make your own with a mix of blood meal and a generic canister of pepper. It really worked well for me. It even kept the woodchucks out of my raised garden beds.

Hope the wildlife leaves you some vegetables to enjoy...........

May 15, 2011 at 11:35 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

I am looking at building a motion detecting sprinkler system using a solar powered motion detecting light and some sprinkler heads.

May 16, 2011 at 1:30 AM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

I would till some wood ash / charcoal bits into your tater patch unless you have a good potash level. The taters that grew where a burn pile had been were half again the size of the ones that were in regular ground.


May 16, 2011 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Plant marigolds in borders to keep the bunnies out and lots of sunflowers to keep the deer out. Not sure why bunnies don't like marigold but my grandma and mom have done it with great success. Deer are skid-dish and wont go in between the tall sunflowers. :]

May 16, 2011 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

We're done planting for now, except for sweet potatoes which will go in sometime this week. I'm thrilled to be in harvest mode, but also a bit sad that there's nothing left to plant.

We put up some three foot high rabbit fence around our garden beds, and it keeps out the chickens the all the wild cottontails - really our only garden pests. We're fortunate that we don't have trouble with birds, moles, deer, etc.

May 16, 2011 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger Speaktrue said...

My wife and I have an edible landscape on a standard suburb house yard. In our garden we have various tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, eggplant, beans, peppers, carrots, basil and a beautiful herb garden that i've managed to keep living for 2 years which is a benefit of living in Florida (oregano, chives, rosemary & sage)...we experience gratitude for fresh food and heartbreak over things not surviving!

May 16, 2011 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger Sowing Clover (Emily) said...

I have to move in a few weeks but didn't want to wait to plant! So, I've got all my veggies in 5 gallon buckets. So far, peas, beans, tomatoes, kohlrabi, swiss chard, lettuce, and spinach. When I move, I'll just take my garden with me!

May 16, 2011 at 1:04 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

This helped me remember what one of the items I bought at the farmers market to plant last Saturday was: eggplant! Still one more mystery, I'll plant it and see what happens. Tomatoes, peppers, peas, cucs, squash, zucs, basil, rosemary, corn and ornamental corn for my friends pig and cow. Blue, rasp, black berry bushes and a fig bush. Yippee!

May 16, 2011 at 7:24 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

My hubby built some planter boxes for me since we're renting. I planted strawberries, a big dill plant (hopefully it will be ready when pickling time comes), basil, a couple potatoes, some acorn squash and I cheated and bought a hanging basket of Tumbling Tom tomatoes. I'm going to have to think protection myself. We don't have a fence and there are wandering dogs and I saw a rabbit today, not to mention a lot of birds. Good luck!

May 16, 2011 at 7:46 PM  
Blogger Christi said...

This last Saturday, at our future retirement farm, we planted 100 asparagus plants. We have a plan to move there in the next couple of years and are planting things that will hopefully help us supplement our income. Last year, we planted 150 thornless blackberry plants. I enjoy reading your posts about life on the farm. We've always had property, but now live in St. Park housing, so about all I can do here is put in a garden, but bigger things await at The Farm! You're an inspiration.....Keep it up!

May 17, 2011 at 8:52 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

Radishes, romaine and arrowhead lettuce, swiss chard, spinach, 6 varieties of Tomatoes, 4 varieties of Peppers, 2 types of green beans, 3 types of onions, beets, sugar and snap peas, brussels sprouts, eggplant, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow summer squash, acorn squash, watermelon, muskmelon, cantalope, pumpkins, basil, parsley, cilantro, dill and fennel. We also have more blackberries that we can barely deal with!! It's been difficult dodging raindrops here in central Ohio most of this still needs to get into the ground!!

May 17, 2011 at 10:45 AM  

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