Friday, May 25, 2012

Early Harvest

Last night it was very windy but the wind calmed down by morning.  We looked outside to look for damages and there was an odd spectacle in bed #4.  This bed hasn't been planted yet, but something big, perhaps dog size, ran through the bed.  Upon closer inspection, one fence panel was pushed in and the panel on the opposite side knocked off.  There were some tracks but we can't tell from looking at them what it was.  In our dogs' defense, the tracks looked too small to be theirs.

Somebody's Been In My Bed!
We have been blessed to be able to harvest some strawberries, spinach, several varieties of lettuce, lamb's quarter, and an early variety of radish (Only 20 days from seed to harvest!).  We are very happy with the taste and quality.  The new soil addition seems to be paying off so far.
Shannon Harvesting Spinach
Shannon with Bouquet of Radishes
Our recent yard improvements have been finishing the fence around the Gojis and putting a patio around the well pipe.  We still need to remove some sod and spread mulch around the Gojis yet.  The well pump is missing because it is being shipped back to Oasis for fix/replacement.  I talked to the owner and he said it shouldn't be leaking like it was for me when trying to pump uphill.  I have to say I am very pleased with Oasis' customer support and help.  I am still hoping to be able to pump directly into the barrel from the well. Once I get the pump back I will test this out.
Finished Pump Patio and Goji Fence

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sheltered Existence

The plants on our light rack have been doing well but they live a very sheltered existence.  If we on day just transplanted them in the ground chances are many would not survive.  The extremes of the real world would be a shock to them compared to the controlled, relatively constant environment they have been accustomed to.  The intense sun rays, temperature swings, wind and rain is very stressful on these tender plants.  Sort of like many of us in a way as we grow up sheltered under our parents until the reality of the "cruel world" sets in once we get out on our own.

What is needed to be done is what is called "Hardening Off".  This typically means bringing the plants outdoors for a few hours a day, gradually increasing the exposure length for over a period of a few days until they are accustomed to the outdoors.  One thing that can help with strengthening the plants is to put an oscillating fan on them while they are still inside to provide resistance and help strengthen their stems.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that putting the plants directly in our greenhouse worked well as a transition point because the sunlight is diffused, the wind less intense, and the rain is not a problem.

To update those who have been following along, our Goji plants are now planted in the ground in their hopefully permanent homes.  We took the seed from dried fruit in a bag from the store to seed starter tray, to 4" pots under the light rack, to our greenhouse and finally into the ground.  Although outside now, they are still being protected from dangers by a fence that is keeping the rabbits away and our dogs from tearing through them as they are planted in a place they typically would run through.  We still have a few years yet to see if our efforts bear any fruit. J
New baby Goji's in square pots.
They fit nicely in starter trays.

Goji's growing fast on light rack.

"Harding Off" plants in greenhouse,
getting use to the real world.

Goji's in 2 rows of 6, 12 plants to be planted.
Not much open grass is left in our yard...

A look at our soil...  Thin layer of poor topsoil over sand.

Added new black topsoil and horse manure into holes.

View from deck with temporary fencing.
We plan to mulch this area with wood chips.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Garden Time Advanced

Well after much time and effort I have finally released a new and improved version to my first gardening Android App which was Garden Time and have called it Garden Time Advanced.  See previous post for a discussion on the original app.

So what is so advanced about it you might ask?  Well the Advanced version improves upon the first in many ways.  First you will notice that there are now crop images to help with some of those less familiar crops and herbs.  After you make your selection from the main crop list and create your own personal crop list for what you want to grow, you can now add notes.  Use it like a log to help you with what worked and didn't work.  One of the more powerful features is the ability to totally customize your crop calculation numbers, thus giving you a more accurate to do list.  So for example you can specify the days to maturity which can be quite different for varieties of the same crop.  Another very nice addition is the crop information which gives helpful tips on many crop related things like growing, planting, harvesting, storage, soil preferences, PH levels, temperatures and the like.

If you have an Android device, please check it out.  There is a full version and a 30 day trial version available on the Android Market.  If you do try it we would love to hear any thoughts and feedback and ideas for improvements you might have.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Plodding Along

We have been slowly working on our garden(s) as time and weather permits.  It has been much cooler lately than what we experienced in March.  To keep everyone who reads this (Does anyone read this?) up to date, here is a rundown of what is new.

I have tested attaching a hose to my new pump as mentioned before and it was a failure.  From my understanding the pump is supposed to work under pressure, but it leaked out its own cap and top as the pressure, which I didn’t think would be a problem, was too high.  So my new pump has been disappointing for what I had hopped.  The one thing that I am still using it for is the hope that it will not wear out for a very long time…  If it survives more than 2 years it will be doing better than my old picture pump which is now useless without a new leather.

For the raised beds I have been attaching fence panels to the posts and am using what is called a square hook or an “L” screw.  This seems to work OK to remove and replace but fussing is still present at times as the fence pieces like to get hung up on stuff.  I would not recommend this method unless you do not mind a little fussing.  It is definitely a cheap way to go if money is tight.  Just look for what is on sale and what can work.  I chose the landscape timber posts as fence supports because I could get them at a buck a piece at the time and they were cheaper than metal stakes or the material to build my own frames. I stapled the end fence panels for semi permanence and attached the side panels by 3 square hooks.  Two at the top and one in the middle at the bottom.
Square Hook Closeup

Shannon made some nice signs to hang on the beds at my request because I would get mixed up on which bed was what number.  Now they are all neatly numbered.  She used some ceramic tiles and paint pens and hung them with a piece of wire.
Bed 4 With Welcome Campau Garden Tiles

Bed 1 with all Fencing in Place

Today Shannon put some mulch down around the peas, broccoli, and cauliflower.  She used some shredded tall ornamental grass cuttings and chipped branches I chopped up in the shredder.  It worked quite well, better than the hay we put down last year because it was smaller pieces and easier to place around the plants.  Don’t have a picture for that yet but you should see it soon enough. The Remay cloth in bed 2 pictured above is covering newly planted carrot seeds in an attempt to keep the soil moist to help the new plants come up.  We have not had good success with carrots in the past so this is a new trial.

I also am relieved to announce that after much work I have released Garden Time Pro.  I will plan to do a full review giving the features in a future blog.  For now you can check it out at this link: