I’ve largely neglected my rock garden since constructing it over what was a dump a long long time ago. Weeds have been growing up between the rocks, and sumac has grown all around. I have decided to take a little break from shed construction and play around with a tractor implement known as a back blade. It’s basically a straight chunk of iron attached to the three point hitch which allows the driver to level dirt, and move around heavy rocks. Since teaching myself how to use this device, I’ve taken a renewed interest in my rock garden.
The herbs I’ve planted and largely ignored are doing very good. They are all planted under the gentle cover of a apple tree, and the soil carried an amazing dark color thanks to the remnants of large quantities of wood which have been burnt or rotted away here. I have have been a poor garden tender, but the only hint of my absence is the extra plants which sprung up while I was away.
The parsley seems to be the one exception to this garden. Although it’s growing fairly well, it seems to be growing slowly. I may need to stop by this area with some plant food, and soak the soil with a few gallons of water.
The basil is growing happily, with one of the night lights I placed here nearby. These are solar powered lights that are often found near walkways. I’ve placed two of them here to give the garden a bit of character at night. I can see the lights glowing from my porch after dark.
Now that I’ve gotten used to leveling and cleaning the ground with the tractor, I’m hoping to Terra-form this whole area of about an acre. I would like to end the dominance of weedy ground and unruly chunks of iron, and bring in a new age of green mowed grass, and gentle slopes. I’ve already made quite a big dent of sorts
I stopped in at my sister’s house this weekend, and as usual, I wound up taking a bunch of pictures. Sandy and Davie didn’t plant much last year since they were helping so much with my garden. After missing their backyard buffet last year, they made their garden a top priority this season, and it shows. In the center of their garden they have a row of old tires with lettuce, herbs and chard, with a plum tree at the end closest to their driveway. The four tires shown provide all of the salad they care to eat, and then some. These plants seem to grow very well due to the warming effect the black tires have on the soil.
Sandy’s herbs are doing great, with basil and parsley stealing the show above. There are chives growing very well on the left of the picture, but they are hidden by this monster of a basil plant. Also included in the tire: an artichoke plant. When I brought over the herb plants from the greenhouse, I added a artichoke plant in the mix, and somehow Sandy and I must have had a case of miscommunication. She thought the little plant was sage, and added it to the tire of herbs.
Sandy and Davie have used a unique system of trellis to hold their cucumber vines up off the ground. The trellis is constructed of two parts, with the bottom section forming a upside down V, and the top portion standing above the V.
The cucumber plants will then climb up the v portion, and the cucumbers themselves will hang down from the trellis as shown.
The celery is also doing great, nearly twice the size of the celery in my garden. Since these plants are from the same seed starting date, I can guarantee that this mulch or soil is to blame for the distinctive vertical differences.
It wouldn’t be a visit to Sandy’s house without posting a picture of one of her many animals. Here is her last chicken, the grand-paw of many a colorful chicken, and father of my rooster.
On Tuesday I started planting Tomatoes, so by Thursday I decided it was time to switch gears to direct seeded plants. I started with some Lettuce, then Purple Kohlrabi, two flavors of Mesclun then I finished up with some Green Beans. I’ve been trying to pace myself so that I’m not too warn out for working the next day, and I now have 9 whole days to finish the rest of the planting before going back to work. You heard it right, this IT guy is going into full farming mode for over a week !
Here are the seed packets for the items I’ve planted as seeds.
When I was planning what to plant the other day I couldn’t find the Kohlrabi seeds I ordered, so I went to Home Depot to find some. Their seed selection was still pretty healthy, but there was only purple Kohlrabi available, so I bought three packets. When I finished planting that day, I found the original white kohlrabi seeds.
The table under the seed packets is a side project I’ve been constructing from locally grown/harvested rough cut lumber. You may notice the pattern at the bottom that was left by the sawmill when the giant blade cut this tree into slices. I decided to leave these lines slightly visible to give the piece some additional character. When it came time for staining it, I used a combination of Oak and Birch stains, which have turned out beautifully. I’d really love to be a full time farmer / furniture builder some day.
I’ve finally gotten my Goji berry plants, but I must admit I’m kinda upset with them. These tiny plants cost me $12 plus shipping and handling. I’ve always been one to hold my tongue and not complain, but that is quickly changing. I’m realizing that when things are unfair, light must be cast upon the shadows. I’m planning on calling the company in question and asking if my generously filled out order forms do not merit 5 living plants.
On a more positive note, my Rock Garden is starting to come together nicely. Most of the larger stones were in place when I started this project, and I’ve fitted the smaller rocks around them to build a set of steps. I’ve worked this area as an artist would swirl paint on a canvas, letting the end result be more of a product of the initial state, rather then my own will. I guess it would be simpler to say I’m building around what I’ve been given, and not forcing the project to a particular design.
After constructing the steps, I moved many of the larger stones in the foreground to build a planting area for my herbs. I have Basil, Parsley, Sage and Chives planted here. Behind the apple tree trunk shown, I hope to construct another planting area. Here I would like to place some of the wild Spearmint plants that grow all around the farm.
As I was walking up my steps into my backdoor, I glanced down at my now two year old sage plant, and wondered what I could use it for. The plant is just starting it’s second winter, and the leaves are beginning to discolor. I did a search, and found that sage can be used for many things, once it’s dried out. I snipped off some of the larger branches of the plant that were invading my walking space, and placed them in the kitchen to dry. There’s no magic to this process other then to stir the leaves from time to time.
When the leaves are dry enough, they begin to break apart when stirred. At this point, I still wasn’t sure what to do with them, so I searched again, and found that Sage Tea was a common use. The process is simple, heat some water to a boil. ( I used a cup of water in the microwave for a minute or so…), Then add sage leaves and allow them to soak for five minutes.
I placed two spoons full of the dried leaves in a bowl, and poured the water on top, then stirred the leaves every minute or so. The source I read online mentioned that sage had medicinal uses, and the average person should not drink more then two cups per day. I’d suggest you do some searching and determine if the tea will agree with you before tasting it.
When all was complete, I had a small cup of tea, with tiny bits of leaves included. After letting the tea sit for a few minutes, the remaining bits settled to the bottom, and I tried the tea. I have made this tea three times so far, and have yet to draw a conclusion about the taste. I don’t find it gross, but it’s not pleasant either. In fact the best thing I can say about it’s taste is that it’s different, and I’ve made it more then once….
You might be surprised how I write this blog. I start out with pictures, anything I find odd, or interesting. I then start writing about the questions that form when I look at the picture. This is how I view the world, with endless curiosity.
When I pulled up my garlic bulbs, I had no intention of writing about them. They are puny to say the least, and it may take many years to learn the skills needed to grow a better bulb. I generally like to write about what I grow well. What I did learn due to my curiosity, was particularly valuable to me, so I had to share:
If you allow a garlic plant to grow through it’s entire life cycle, it will form a “flower” at the top of it’s stalk, and inside this flower, it will set many small pods, named “bulbils”. I didn’t know what they were called at the time, but judging by there shape, I assumed they were small cloves, or seeds. After a Google search, and with the help of Wikipedia, I found their name. Then after finding a very informative site, I discovered they are small seeds, which will spring forth new bulbs in a few years time.
So it seems you can grow garlic with cloves, or you can start new plants from bulbils as well. What a great fact to know, as I love garlic.
The tart cherries are just starting to ripen and they are worth eating even thought they are quite sour. I gave my neices some, and they liked them. The trouble maker of the group suggested giving them to their mom without telling her they were sour. She can be such a bully, and she once warned me of a Cupacabra outside my door harassing my kitten.
I’m very lucky as a gardener to have so many wild treats in the valley. There are wild strawberries, black berries and raspberries, crab apples, and many herbs and flowers. There is one plant that makes the whole valley smell great, wild mint. I’ve heard you can make tea from these leaves, but I like to snip off the tops from time to time, and bring them in the house.
Here is a water Carrier / Sprayer that Dad used to water all of the grape vines back in the day. It hasn’t been used much in the last few years, but I’ve decided it would be a huge help, and I’ve begun repairs to bring it back up to speed. There seems to be a problem with the electrical connection, which is my specialty, so as soon as time permits, I’ll try to get this great tool working again. I’ve parked it next to my car so that I have to look at it every day when coming home from work. I’ve found in the past that if you want to get something done, put it in your way, you’ll get sick of seeing it after a while.
I’m not a big fan of mushrooms, and I would never eat them unless I was sure they came from the store. They are a great benefit to the world however; Mushrooms basically suck all of the bad heavy minerals out of the soil. They have a huge underground network of roots that do wonders for the soil. This year I’ve decided to leave them grow, as well as a few other plants. Clover is also more then welcome in my garden as it “fixes nitrogen”, or adds nutrients to the soil. I also allow Yarrow to grow unchecked. It is a herb that was used long ago similarly to how you would apply neosporin to a cut. It was also used long ago to flavor beer before hops were used.
I’ve finally found the time to plant all of my cloned grapes. The one shown above was part of a much larger vine only 8 months ago. I really love grape vines, and I have even made my own wine with this flavor of grapes. I didn’t make much, but it worked quite well, and was a bit warm going down. I got some compliments when some friends tried that wine, but it wasn’t the taste that they liked. I think I let it ferment a bit too long….. Hope to make another small batch this year, but I’ll defiantly get a better recipe.
Above is the first few rows of corn we planted. It’s Early Sunglow, and should be ready in 62 days. This years crop is doing far better then last year, again, I suspect it’s the huge amount of fertilizer applied in the winter months.