Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Garden Status for July 2014

It's been a busy month for the garden
July 2 harvest.
Beans picked on July 3.
 My wife froze a lot of the beans.  I canned 5 pints of tomatoes and my wife made and canned 6 pints of salsa.
A lot of my tomato plants gave up and died.  I did put new plants in the ground, but they're probably a few weeks away from producing anything.
Harvest on July 15.  I've had a lot of luck with cucumbers this year.
More beans were picked on July 18.
I haven't grown pumpkins before.  These two turned out pretty nice.
More cucumbers and tomatoes on July 20.

I wrote previously that my homemade trellis didn't work out so well.  A lot of the cucumbers that were climbing/destroying it had turned yellow.  So I took them out and created a new trellis.  The frame is the same.  The twine I used last time was the problem.  It just wasn't strong enough.  I used mason line this time.  Hopefully it lasts longer.  
I replaced broken twine with mason line and removed all of the cucumbers that had been here.
I don't even know where these pole beans came from.  I must've picked some up somewhere.  Anyway, they're going crazy climbing the trellis where the peas had been.
My corn isn't doing well.  I'm only seeing 1 ear per stalk and they are tiny ears.  They aren't even worth picking.  I don't think I'll be growing it again next year.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Keep debris out of rain barrels

All of my rain barrels that are directly under down spouts have screens to keep out debris. 
The screen on the barrel keeps out the larger debris.

So I was quite surprised when I looked inside one the other day and saw this.

Closeup picture of the debris that go through the screen, but not into the barrel.
What a mess.  I don't need that stuff getting into my drip irrigation lines.  There's a chance that it already has.  Anyway, the question now is, "What do I do about it?"  I figured that I had two options.  I could build some first flush diverters that would hopefully catch and divert the smaller debris away from the barrel before it started to fill.  Or I could get a tighter screen to stop the smaller debris from entering the barrel.  I really liked the idea of the first flush system.  It's probably the more permanent long term option.  It's also more costly and time consuming to install.  So I went with option #2, the tighter screen.  I ordered some mosquito netting from Amazon.  Total cost was less than $9.
Installation was pretty simple.  I put the netting on top of the existing screen, screwed on the lid, and cut away the excess material.
As an added precaution I also added a screened washer to the hose attached to each barrel.  I'm hoping that it'll prevent junk from getting into the drip lines that connect the barrels.
New screened hose washer on the left.  Old normal hose washer on the right.
Screened hose washer installed.
I didn't check inside the barrels after the last rain storm, but it appeared as though the mosquito netting did catch a lot of tiny debris. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Garden Trellis Update

Several months ago I built some trellises in my garden.  They were fairly simple to construct.  I used trees from my woods and lashed them together with square lashings.  The plan was to use them to grow peas and cucumbers.

So how's it working?

The trellis for the peas worked out fairly well.  Below is a picture taken on June 21.  The peas were nearing their end.  I've removed them since this picture was taken.  I saved the few remaining pea pods for seed for next year.
Some of the peas made it to the top of the trellis.
The trellis for the slicing cucumbers still looks pretty good.  This trellis had more vertical support lines which made it have a smaller grid.  I think I made the mistake of planting too many cucumbers.  They starting growing every which way and became a tangled mess.  I had difficulty getting them to climb the trellis.  I've made a note to plant fewer next year.
The trellis for the pickling cucumbers has not done well.  Several pieces of twine running horizontally have broken.  The stuff just wasn't strong enough to hold the weight.
You can see the large grid at the top and the gaping hole in the middle.
This is a closer view of the hole.  There used to be a grid of twine there.
Even with the broken twine these cucumbers have managed to climb.
Next year I'll have to find some stronger twine or maybe even use paracord.  That along with fewer plants should solve the problem.

Here's the first trellis after the peas had been removed.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Composting in place status.

Back in January I dumped leaves in a low spot in my yard with the hopes that they would compost in place.

It looked like this at the time.
January 2014
Six months have passed and it looks like this now.
June 2014
It's not nearly as deep as it was, but it still has the appearance of shredded leaves. 
The chickens get into these leaves and dig everyday.  Maybe once a month or so I have to get the rake and move the leaves off of the stone border. 

It's a lousy picture, but the ground under the leaves actually appears to be damp and dark.  Prior to dumping leaves here it was dry, hard, and tan. 
I'd say that it's an improvement, but I'm thinking that it's going to be a while until I can grow grass here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

An update on blueberries and strawberries.

I planted some blueberries bushes back in May of 2012 (see here, here, and here).  Two years have passed, so an update is long overdue.
 When I put these plants in they looked like little twigs.  Now they're actually producing blueberries.
Same plants different angle.
You can see all of the berries on this plant.  They aren't close to being ripe yet.
If I have any complaints it's that the berries don't ripen at the same time.  I get 3-4 ripe berries per day, which I then eat immediately.  I'm not getting enough to use for anything like pies or ice cream.  I'm not really complaining though since I still get to eat blueberries.

Below is a picture of my strawberries.  These things spread like weeds.  You'd never know it by looking at the picture, but I thinned this bed out last September.  I need to thin it out again in the fall. 

I did manage to get a quart or two of strawberries at the end of May.  There were OK.  They were little, and by the time I picked them they were on the squishy side.  They made some good ice cream though.  So I can't complain.
Strawberries from my back yard.
Homemade strawberry ice cream.