Saturday, September 16, 2017

September chard for Foliage Follow-Up

After sulking all summer, my Swiss chard has rebounded.


Right before the rain, I had scattered some cottonseed meal in the bed and topped it off with some compost.


Nitrogen, rainwater and a break from the heat and BOING! Chard's back on the menu. The new leaves are so baby-soft and fresh. What a treat!



Words and photos © 2009-2017 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Getting ready for fall

The American Beautyberry tells me that fall will be here in a few weeks, hooray! I'm so ready, and so is my garden.

These are the sort of thoughts that run through my head every year around this time:
  • If I plant corn/tomatoes/squash/cucumbers/snap beans now, can I still get a decent harvest before the first frost? Or should I save these seeds until spring, and plant fall veggies instead?
  • How long can I work in the garden tomorrow, weeding and rejuvenating the garden beds, before the heat becomes unbearable?
  • When is the Big Orange Home Improvement Box Store going to have their annual fall sale of Texas Native Hardwood Mulch, at $2 a bag?
  • What annual (or fall-flowering perennial) should I plant in that bare spot in the front garden?
  • Are the saved seeds in my seed box still good?
Seed-saving box
Every time I look at my seed box, I'm always overwhelmed by the number of seeds I've bought and never planted. I bought most of these seeds last fall and winter.  Two kinds of corn, three sorts of green beans, four varieties of cucumbers, and so on and so forth.

Then Jack and I ran off to Europe for our 10th wedding anniversary in spring, and I didn't plant much of a first-season garden. All the seeds in this photo should still be viable this fall, but there's definitely some old seeds in the seed box that need to go, like the pepper seeds, and some of the tomatoes, and most of the seeds from the Seattle & Portland Garden Bloggers Fling swag bags.

I think I'll plant corn, cucumbers and snap beans now, find a spot for the one tomato plant I bought two weeks ago (which is still sitting outside in its one-gallon plastic pot, slowly drying out), and leave the squash for spring.

When it's as hot and dry as it's been here this summer, I have to break the garden chores up into short manageable tasks, rather than tackling one big marathon session. Last evening, just before dusk, I ran the Heron weeder through this long bed where I planted greens and carrots last year. There weren't many weeds there at all - mostly widow's tears and oxalis - and only two tiny clumps of Bermuda grass, yippee.  One mosquito bit me - not bad! Weeding this one bed only took about 20 minutes.
Weed-free and ready for planting
This morning, I cleared the mostly-dead tomatoes out of the other bed, worked some cottonseed meal into the parched soil in both beds, dampened the soil with rainwater from the big barrel, added some fresh compost to all the beds, and planted my one fall tomato. That took about two hours - not bad! I'll plant my corn, cucumbers and green bean seeds early next week, when I get time.
Lonely fall tomato
When I went to Shoal Creek Nursery to get compost yesterday, I happened upon a 75% sidewalk sale they were having, and picked up three new garden decor pieces - score! - plus a Black and Blue Salvia for $2 that will perk right up with some water and a haircut.
Disappearing fountain
Salvia and metal owl
Hummingbird weathervane
What are you doing in your garden to get ready for fall?

Words and photos © 2009-2017 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.
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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Couldn't help it

I was going to skip planting veggies this spring, but I forgot I have this absurdly insatiable need to grow stuff. Plus, I have a big box of seeds left over from last year that are still good.

So I planted bush beans in the bare spots around the spinach and carrots where the fall lettuce never came up.
Spring veggie garden

I planted chard seedlings in the bare spots between the carrots and multiplying onions, where the fall chard got zapped by the December freeze.
Spring veggie garden

I planted tomato seedlings and cucumber seeds in the bare spots where the fall broccoli faded too early in our warm winter.
Spring veggie garden

I rejuvenated the cinder block herb garden with new herb seedlings.
Spring veggie garden

Then I watered everything in with rainwater from the rain barrel. Done!

What are you planting this spring that you hadn't planned on? Leave a comment and let me know.

Words and photos © 2009-2017 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling - Day 1

Dylan mural in downtown Minneapolis

Earlier this month, I attended my third Garden Bloggers Fling in Minneapolis, MN. I and sixty-some-odd garden bloggers from all over the U.S. and Canada hopped charter buses and toured the city's best gardens, public and private, for three full days. The Garden Bloggers Fling is a fabulous way to see the lush green spirit of a city up close and in depth, and I was glad to be able to attend.

Marquette Plaza

from the porch at the Hayes house

Each garden we visited deserves its own post, but I've learned from experience that attempting that task is sheer folly for someone who works full-time and needs to tend to her own home, garden and volunteer work! I've yet to post on some of my favorite gardens from Portland's Fling, which I hope to revisit at some point in the near future. But without further delay, here's some highlights from day 1 in Minneapolis.

Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden & Bird Sanctuary (public)
Eloise Butler meadow

Bench at Eloise Butler Wildflower Center

pretty berries


Studio garden of Donna Hamilton (private)
exterior

color riot

studio garden


Lyndale Park Gardens (public)
yellow annual-perennial bed at Lyndale Park Gardens

pink and peach flowers at Lyndale Park Gardens

day lilies at Lyndale Park Gardens


Garden of blogger and author Rhonda Fleming Hayes (private)
Hayes house

Hayes kitchen garden

back porch and pond at Hayes house

Hayes garden and patio


Bachman's Garden Center (retail)
Bachman's display

Bachman's greenhouse

potting bench plants at Bachman's

Latham "Park" (private)
Latham House perennial border

Latham "Park"

Gazebo at Latham House

Pond at Latham House

Noerenberg Memorial Gardens (public)
Noerenberg Memorial Gardens

Colonnade where the Noerenberg home once stood

Noerenberg Memorial Gardens

Kelley and Kelley Nursery (retail)
Hosta border at the Kelley-Kelley nursery

Fragrant pink lilies at Kelley-Kelley nursery

royal cat in the woods at Kelley-Kelley nursery

Garden of Steve Kelley and Arla Carmichiel (private)

Kelley-Charmichiel house

Hydrangea

Kelley-Carmichiel garden

There wouldn't have been a wonderful Minneapolis Fling without the tireless efforts of Amy Andrychowicz at Get Busy Gardening, Kathleen Hennessey at :29 Minute Gardener, and Mary Lahr Schier at My Northern Garden. Thank you all so much! If you want to see more photos of these gardens, check out the Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling photo collection on my Flickr page.

Words and photos © 2009-2016 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A couple more weeks to fresh sweet corn

Looks like my corn patch may produce a few edible ears after all.
corn

In Central Texas, early April is the best time to plant sweet corn; our summers get too hot too quickly for that "knee high by the Fourth of July" business. I had to break down half my raised beds before the new fence was installed, and the raised beds I had left were already full of tomatoes and bush beans, so I decided to till up a patch of weedy soil and plant right away rather than wait and try to build a raised bed. That's OK; I wanted a bigger corn patch this year anyway.
'Luscious' corn patch

I'm not sure if this variety, 'Luscious', is a great one for this area, but I've had luck with it before. My seed source says it's best grown above the 40th parallel, and Austin is on the 30th. The plants of this particular variety tend to be shorter - six feet - and the corn cobs form in the bottom two feet of the plant.
'Luscious' corn patch

I had the soil tested at the Soil Kitchen tent at the East Austin Garden Fair, and all the nutrients came back at moderate levels or above, except for sodium, which is not a desirable thing to have in a high quantity in soil. Because corn is a heavy feeder and the soil nitrogen level didn't test at excessively high levels, I did fertilize with cottonseed meal (high in nitrogen, low in everything else) when the plants were about a foot tall, back in April, and when the silks appeared last week.
soil test results

The plants look a little more spindly than last year's crop, but we've had good rain - I've only had to irrigate the patch a couple of times in the past two months - and all the plants have ears. I've been "hoeing my rows" to keep the weeds down. It hasn't been as warm or sunny in the past month, due to all the rain, though we're getting a little sun today, on and off. This last couple of weeks is when the kernels put on all their "weight", so I'm hoping those ears keep getting bigger (and the critters stay away).
'Luscious' corn patch

Even if the critters get a few, I'll be happy if we get enough corn to make fritters, yum!
mmm, corn fritters

I got a good fritter recipe out of The Victory Garden Cookbook. It's a good way to use those less-than-fully-filled ears, and the ears that the worms eat halfway down. There's a corn chowder recipe in there that's pretty good, too; I'll make it again if we get a really good harvest.
making corn fritters

Maybe we'll even get a few fully-filled ears like we did last year. I'm not too picky, Mother Nature; just let us have some!
'Luscious' corn


Words and photos © 2009-2016 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.