Garden Update


I had some time alone this morning, so I built up a new garden bed in the backyard- my husband pulled some nasty old bushes out for me a few weeks ago in one of the few sunny spots in the backyard.

tomato/basil garden bed

Four tomatoes, four basil (under the “hot caps”), and one ground cherry in the middle (also under a hot cap).  Yes my hot caps are a little…what’s the word…trashy.  But hey, they were cheap and plentiful.  (By the by- I have seven more of these rinky tomato cages, and then I’m at loose ends.  What’s your favorite, inexpensive, way to cage tomatoes?  Besides those wonderful $15 square cages?  Because I’m thinking that 10 or 15 of those cages just isn’t going to happen this year.)

We’ve been having a lot of warmth, cold, sunshine, and torrential rain.  Yes, all in the same day most days.

As a result, my back garden box has exploded with seedlings, most of them not mine.  Time to weed, you think? (This picture is SO EMBARRASSING.)

backyard box

Speaking of weeding, I finally got around to hoeing out the weeds under the deck and along the side fence.  (aka “our new front entry”)  How’d I do?

my new compost pile.  My shoulders are tired.

Oh, and my poor spinach never even had a chance.  (WAS this spinach?  I’m fairly certain that’s what I planted there, but this looks like no spinach I’ve ever seen- I better check that seed packet.  Might have been mustard spinach.)
spinach (bolted)

Lots of tomatoes to plant out, lots of basil.  I’m getting nervous- the basil especially are chafing at their wet roots in these drainage-free cups, and it’s probably another solid week until my front beds are ready.  I think there’s a patch of sunny dirt in the front yard that I can stick a load of these in.
tomato starts

basil starts

Potatoes are chugging along.  The purple potatoes have already reached the top of their can!  I’ll wait a few more days for all the shoots to grow out, add one more load of dirt, then just let it be till September.

purple potatoes

The yukons have sprouted- whew.  Always a little scary waiting for those first sprouts to pop out.  They have some catching up to do, but if we have a mild Fall they should be fine.  (You watch- THIS is the year that I will be in charge of mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, and I will GROW THEM MYSELF.  Woohoo!)

yukon potatoes

Potted cilantro, chard, and carrots are all doing well.  As in, they’ve managed to sprout.  Total win in my book.  Took a while for the cilantro- I really hope those seedlings ARE cilantro.  Always a bummer to tend and care…and realize you’re cultivating weeds.

cilantro seedlings

swiss chard and carrots


16 Responses

  1. I use the same tomato cages as you. However, my father in law used to drive four stakes around the tomatoes, nick the stakes and then used wire to wrap around the plant. Hope that made sense. They worked really well.

    I was wondering, could you take a nail and make a small hole in the cups holding those basil plants. It would be such a shame if they drowned!

    You are doing so well with the garden. Way to go!

    • Ooh, that’s a great idea, Su!

      I tried poking a hole with a nail, and it wouldn’t pierce the plastic 😦 The ones that I drilled into died… my sister suggested drilling an empty cup and transplanting into that, then drilling the now empty cup and transplanting into that…that would buy me some time, I think.

  2. So, I broadcast a bunch of flower seeds in what I was hoping to turn into a flower garden, and most of those seeds flew over to my vegetable garden, and now my garden is sprouting flowers, I think. Or I have some really pretty weeds.
    So, I have a bunch of transplanting to do soon.

    • haha- OK, that’s funny 🙂 Maybe the flowers will bring bees, and help your garden?? (You just reminded me that Ernie has a big bag of wildflower seeds to broadcast…)

  3. Your garden is so much better than mine… I’ve got one tomato plant and some cilantro planted. I want to plant potatoes in the garbage can but I couldn’t poke holes in the bottom. What did you use? I’ve got to get Ben to finish tilling and then I’ve got to work in the Manure and then plant… I know it’s late in the year but I think it will be fine. I planted on Memorial Day two years ago and it worked out fine. If nothing else, I guess I’m getting ready for next year.

    • Heehee…my garden is rather pathetic right now, you just can’t tell in the close ups 😉 I use a drill to make lots of holes in the bottom of the garbage cans- the biggest drill bit I have (1/2 inch??) I planted seeds in May one year, and it was fine- beans and chard did just fine, especially.

      That’s the nice thing about gardening- the work is never wasted, you can always pick up where you left off next year! Good luck 🙂

  4. I’ve got weeds too! I tried to do a little weeding today, but my “helper” decided to use her plastic shovel to toss dirt into the air which landed down my back and in my hair. So I gave up and let her plant two marigolds at the other side of the garden.

    • Oh, what a GREAT helper! 🙂 One side benefit of all the earth-moving we’ve done is we have MOUNTAINS of dirt for the kids to dig in and throw…and hopefully stay out of the garden! (Didn’t save my poor zucchini plant though…sob 🙂

  5. When my parents lived in Florida it was next to a great big farm. The would just put stakes in the ground every once in awhile and sting string along them at a couple of levels for the tomatoes. It was cheap and efficient and did the job for this commercial grower.

  6. Looks fabulous! I’ll bet those mashed potatoes you’ll make from your Yukon golds will be the best ever. You’ll have to keep us up to date on “how does your garden grow” to quote a famous nursery rhyme 😉

  7. This is what I’m doing this year for the tomatoes in my raised bed.

    Your basil looks pretty; mine took a beating from the cold, and I’ve been battling snails too.

  8. I found your site while looking for something else. It’s terriffic!

    I have an A-frame trellising system for tomatoes (and other things) that is very inexpensive and works brilliantly. I can share pics if you email me, I don’t have a web site.

    Here is what we do:

    Joe buys 8′ 1×6 cedar fencing boards (the kind that would form the “face” of a fence), and rips them on the table saw into 8′ 1x1s. (1x1s are actually a bit less than 1″ square, it’s a wood nomenclature thing.) It’s important to use cedar here (pacific northwest) because the wet weather can rot hardwoods and make them snap halfway through the season- that does not make for a good system! Joe buys several planks whenever it’s on sale, which is a couple times a year around here. He gets 5 or 6 pieces out of each board (I don’t recall which). The boards cost a few dollars each. The pieces have lasted a few years so far.

    For the trellises we make, we use 7 of the 1″x1″ pieces. These trellises sit over our 8’x3′ beds, but you could lengthen the trellis easily enough, or adapt to the size of your beds and the size of the lumber you can find.

    Joe uses a metal digging bar (it’s heavy and pointed on the end) to make holes 1′ or more deep, 3 holes down each side of the bed (so every 4′). These holes are angled slightly so that the stakes, when driven in, meet at their tops (more or less-you can fudge it some). He puts stakes in each hole, and lashes their tops together so that there is about 6″ sticking up above the lashings at the top. This gives him a place to rest the top crosspiece on, and he lashes that in place.

    The resulting trellis is a long A-frame, about 7′ tall, and quite sturdy. It also costs a little more than $5 at the most.

    For tomatoes, I plant 6-8 plants under each trellis. When the plants start getting big enough to need staking, I tie sturdy rough-textured twine (like jute or sisal) around a leaf base near the bottom of the plant (don’t tie around the stem), and tie the other end to the top crossbar of the trellis. Then I wind the plant around it’s string as it grows. The rough texture keeps the plant from sliding down when it gets heavy with fruit.

    That has been the fatal flaw in every previous trellising system we’ve tried: the plants eventually pull the trellis down or over, or else they fall down inside those cages, etc.

    As for the side branches that form on tomatoes, I usually will give one or two on each plant their own piece of twine to climb, and they don’t seem to make a lot more of them once the space starts getting crowded enough that they would be competing for light. I would cut off extras if they seem like too much plant material for the space. Around here we get diseases from crowding or too much moisture-you want air & light to reach all parts of the plant.

    For peas and squashes, we use 5′ x 15′ trellis netting with 6″ squares, 2 pieces per trellis (one for each 4′ wide section) and lash that to the trellis so it’s taut, using more of the twine we have on hand.

    This is the third year we’ve used this method for tomatoes, and we have gotten way more ripe fruit and had no disasters of plants sliding or crashing down as in the past.

    Sorry this is so long-winded. I really ought to just get a blog, eh?


    • Wow Laura…this is GREAT! My toms are still sitting in 1-gallon pots, getting stronger and waiting for the sun to come out. I’m going to show this to my husband, and see if he can cut the boards. I have 12 more plants to go in the ground- this will be perfect!

      • Ack, I gave you some misinformation: Joe tells me it’s cedar FLOORING that he cuts up to make these trellises.

        He buys 5/4 (five-quarters) by 4s. They actually measure 1″ by 3 1/2″ (by 8 feet).

        I’m guessing it must normally be used as sub-flooring, as I can’t see cedar making a very good floor.

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