Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Kitchen Garden in Late March

When I first saw the ranchburger, I was drawn to the fenced garden area. It had three raised beds (the herb garden was in the middle) and a small orchard. After we moved, my husband claimed the first bed. Earlier this month, he planted cold weather crops.




The second bed holds an herb garden. I'm watching the weather forecast, waiting for a warm, sunny day to prune the sage and thyme. Our UT extension agent is going to do a home call, and he's knowledgeable about herbs, so I'm hoping he has advice for this bed. Last week, I pulled up a dead plant, and I uncovered a copper plant label--Cilantro. 


The third bed is Bandwidth's. Something keeps getting his tomatoes. He suspects cut worms, as the stalks look as if they've been cleanly snipped. He's researching a treatment.


We added a small composter.
Bandy and I nearly filled it after we cleaned the two large beds. I bought a compost additive at Home Depot, which mainly consists of kelp, blood meal, bone meal, and chicken "matter." Tomorrow, I will add bell pepper scraps from last night's supper. The smaller the organic matter, the less time is needed for it to break down into usable compost. 


My husband, the packrat gardener, keeps compost in the back of his truck. It's compost on steroids.

I've been busy gathering supplies. I'm also creating a kitchen "container" garden. 

Has anyone tried organic potting mix? I thought I'd give it a whirl. 

I also planted 4 tiny "themed" gardens (impulse purchases at Tractor Farm Supply, my hangout). My husband is just as bad: he bought a kiwi vine and exotic trees, which he planted in pots. I set my wee tubs in a warm, sunny window. Seeds have already sprouted in tubs for songbirds, hummingbirds, and butterflies. I've had no luck with the "edible flower" garden--this is a typical Mlee gardening adventure. All of us are shocked that a single seed sprouted.

In the lower screened porch, I've been "hardening off" the lavender and other things that I couldn't resist at the market. I used an old iron table that I'd bought from Ballard Designs back in the early 90s. Two baking pans fit the top perfectly. 

Have you had success with "Easter" hydrangeas?A few years ago, I planted a grocery-store hydrangea in an urn, and it lived (somehow), but it wilted every single day, even with heavy-duty watering. 

I bought strawberry plants, too--Quinalts and Allstar. I've been doing a little research, and it appears as if I will have to muster the courage to pinch off the white blooms, to help establish the roots. I've also read that my strawberries won't produce this year; another source said the opposite. I guess this strawberry virgin will soon find out!

The little strawberry pots were a challenge for me. Finally, Bandy came outside and talked me through it. We divided each plant--there were 2 in each pot--and gently threaded them through the holes, working from inside the pot, moving to the little openings. It brought back memories of surgical nursing, and I was horrified that I'd injured the plants. As it happened, I didn't have enough berries to fill the pots. 



A parting view from the shed. We have lots of room, but we aren't quite ready to invest in raised gardens. One of our Master Gardening instructors showed photos of his straw bale garden, and it was really pretty. He'd set the bales in rows, and above the bales, he'd made little trellises and planted bean vines. Since the bales are off the ground, weeds aren't a huge problem. I thought it was a genius idea. We're going to start with six bales for warm weather crops. I'll let you know how it goes.
In the mid-South, April 15th is the traditional day to plant (though we have all seen frost after this date). I'm looking forward to planting tomatoes, herbs, peppers. Tomorrow, I'm planting cherry tomatoes and herbs in pots--weather permitting. Do you have any garden plans?

15 comments:

  1. Wow, I am impressed with "all y'all's" progress in the garden. You have an entire family of gardeners ML. I love the raised beds too. I might have to fight one of the guys so I could have 2 of my own. When we were in NC, nothing fragile could be planted before May 15, so April 15 sounds wonderful to me. We don't have any room here in Florida for anything but herbs at the moment. Best of luck with your garden. I know it will turn out beautifully.
    Sam

    ReplyDelete
  2. I loved reading about your raised beds. I'm a Master Gardener in Missouri and have always had a row vegetable garden. We'll be building our retirement home this spring/summer and I think I'll be adding raised beds for my new veggie garden. Our MG group will be adding some to our county's health dept's community gardens and will use them as teaching gardens. We discussed trying the hay bale concept but realized they wouldn't be permanent and might also be more trouble than they're worth to clean up and redo each spring. I'll be interested how they work for you. As a homeowner, I would assume the bales would deecompose and you could add that to your compost pile. Best of luck, if you try it. There is NOTHING like growing your own vegetables and herbs!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't the MG program wonderful? Our group has the Zinnia Project, and we'll bring cut flowers to local nursing homes this summer. I volunteered to help at the county fair with the watermelon display, too. I do have some concerns about the hay bales because of the potential for mess. We'd need another composter for sure. Apparently you can just sprinkle 10-10-10 over the bales--and you don't even need soil (though our instructor added some). We might need to just do 3 bales and see how it goes. I would really love to add more raised beds eventually.

      Delete
  3. So fun to watch your garden begin!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am learning so much via your gardening stories. Spring is a wonderful time for planting and renewing one's spirit. Sheila

    ReplyDelete
  5. You have wonderful gardens to work with and you will have a lot of fun planting and watching them grow. I planted 2 tomato's, egg plant, zucchini, cucumber, hot bell pepper plant, lettuce and herbs.

    Our weather has been quite warm so everything is growing pretty fast.

    Enjoy your garden.
    Mary

    ReplyDelete
  6. You are way ahead of me on buying plants this year...so far the only thing I have bought are a couple rosemary plants, as they don't overwinter here. Your photo reminds me to pick up a few lavender plants, mine finally bit the dust after a dozen years. I have never had any luck with "Easter" hydrangeas after buying them several times. The nursery I go to said that they were grown and fed to produce spectacular blossoms for a one time only show and weren't meant to be replanted outside. So in other words, they are to be treated as a bouquet of flowers. Wish I had known that little tidbit before I spent a fortune trying to get them to produce, again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe this, Marigene. Thanks for passing that info along.

      Delete
  7. Looks like you all have been having fun in the garden, Michael Lee. I just read Marigene's info on the hydrangeas, and now I know why the two plants I've tried to nurture, haven't been successful. They always have lots of green leaves, but wilt like crazy. Good luck with all your gardening adventures. Hope you had a Happy Easter!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I really enjoyed seeing your gardening plans and I love the raised beds. It'll be interesting to see how your strawberries fare. Here in northern IL, we won't be planting for quite awhile still. We always do tomatoes - several varieties - and I'm not sure what else we'll try this year. I have an herb garden with some perennial herbs and then I also plant basil, rosemary, cilantro and dill every year.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I was busy planting this weekend as well! Didn't know you are supposed to take off the first white blooms on the strawberries... I just can't bring myself to do that! I did it for my apple trees last year and it drove me nuts all year without a single apple growing. This year I've planted a bazillion things as everything grows in California - zucchini, yellow squash, 5 types of tomatoes, 5 types of peppers, corn, green beans, strawberries, various herbs, various lettuces. Can't wait for them to all grow! Happy weekend to you!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am an amateur gardener...enjoyed all of your plans and will be anxiously awaiting updates! Thanks for the party and for featuring my Simple + Southern Sunday! Pam @ Everyday Living

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love to read about your garden adventures Michael Lee! My MIL was not a master gardener but a gardener extraordinaire and always said don't plant tomatoes before the soil warms up, around the end of May here. I did get strawberries the first year I planted, but it may depend on your variety. Keep Calm & Garden On! :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I've never been jealous of southern climates until I started blogging. Our Chicagoland weather is really been hanging on---with spring barely a thought this year. We normally have a greenhouse full of plants by now--but it has been too cold, windy and miserable. I guess I will have to be patient to start my flower seedlings. Bunnies and moles, love to eat the stems of the small plants...without fencing it is hard to tell if it's bugs or critters...oh, woodchucks too. We found out the hard way. Sandi

    ReplyDelete
  13. You are so far ahead of us here in the mountains of upstate NY - our planting date is at the end of May and we are expecting snow tonight and Monday. That lavender is so gorgeous - I might have to give it another try this year, although I've never had much luck with it in the past. I think we are just too far north for it to be happy.

    ReplyDelete