Fall Garden Planning

Photo by Greta Hoffman on Pexels.com

Where I live, a person can plant two gardens, a spring garden and a fall or winter garden.

The spring garden is tomatoes, peppers, squash, corn, beans and other vegetables that require warm temperatures to grow and produce fruit. In July these plants in these spring gardens stop producing fruit due to the high temperatures, but will return to production at the end of August when temperatures start dropping. Squash and okra will continue to produce during the hot months of July and August provided the plants are watered regularly.

Fall or winter gardens are for plants who like cool temperatures. We do not get a frost until November and the cold temperatures do not really hit until January. Four to five months of growing cool season plants.

I plant onions in my winter garden, as I cook a lot with onions. Easy to plant and grow. They also are planted in the spring garden, after the cold weather in February. I also start planting radishes and beets. For me, beets grow better in a fall/winter garden than they do in a spring garden, although they can be planted in both seasons.

Radishes grow well year around, except in the strong heat of summer. The strong heat is hard on the seedlings, so during July and first part of August I do not plant radishes. I love radishes, you plant the seed and in 21 to 30 days you have radishes to enjoy. I plant my radishes in two rectangular planters, varying the plant times for a continual harvest. In the spring, I dump out the planters, adding new soil and compost for another year of radishes.

This year I am wanting to add more to my fall/winter garden than the usual radishes, beets and onions. Area gardners do well with cabbage. We like eating cabbage. I am planning on a few cabbage plants.

I am going to experiment with peas. For the spring garden, peas have to be planted the end of February in order to produce fruit before the heat. I am thinking of planting peas at the end of August, and see if I get more fruit before the cold arrives in November that would kill the pea plant. I am also going to mulch or cover with straw to help prevent the cold from reaching the plants.

Gardening is an adventure. The one thing I have enjoyed about moving to Texas is the gardening. Being able to grow a garden year around providing fresh vegetables is a pleasure and blessing. We enjoy eating fresh home grown vegetables.

Anyone can learn to garden. Most people struggle with growing plants due to the watering. I do the simple “finger test” when it comes to if a plant needs water or not. I place my finger an inch or up to the first joint into the soil. If the soil is moist, I do not water. If the soil is dry, I water.

The second reason for a struggling plant is the amount of sunshine. Plants that love the shade struggle growing in full sun. Plants that love the sun, struggle growing in the shade. Learning the sun/shade requirements of plants helps the gardener.

This year, my corner garden was planted near an oak tree, getting late morning and midday shade. Having shade during these times helped the sun loving plants to be cool during the strong heat of June and July. It saved on water use and the plants seemed happier.

The third element to growing a really good garden or plants, is to talk to your plants. This is not an old wives tale, it is a fact of science that talking to your plants helps your plants. Going out at least once a day to talk to your plants helps them to grow. The reason, observation. If you are looking at your plants once a day, you can observe how they are growing, see if they need water. Additional benefit, you relax while talking to your plants.

Do not be afraid to step out on an adventure of gardening or growing plants.

amtolle

The Busy Corner

In my yard is a spot I call my “happy place”. I am free to experiment and do what I want. It is not associated with raising the sheep or any other activity on the farm. It is my space free from sheep, business and other thoughts. Every morning I drink my first cup of coffee and gaze at my corner, watching the activity before the day gets too hot.

My happy place is a spot on the farm that my husband and I laugh at my mistakes, as I made some mistakes while creating this happy spot. One is the “red cabbage”. I like the cabbage plant, as well as the cabbage. This year I thought I had purchased four red cabbage plants on a visit to the nursery. Upon placing the last red cabbage plant in its pot, I saw a label. The label did not identify the plant as red cabbage, the plant is red brussel sprouts.

Red Brussel Sprout plants

We laughed, we did not know there was red brussel sprouts. We both eat brussel sprouts, so the fruit these plants produce will not go to waste. I have never grown brussel sprouts, this year will be the first. I enjoy the different color of the plant, purple stems and sage green leaves. The plant gives the spot a variation in color and structure with the strong upright growth. The plant does not bloom colorful flowers, but the fruit or brussel sprout, grows along the stalk of the plant. My husband keeps looking for the fruit, and we laugh as he does not see where it is producing. He has learned to look in the correct place on the plant, and there are lots of fruits forming. The red brussel sprout has been a welcomed surprise to my happy spot, and a plant I will continue to grow.

This year I added some pink roses that are solar lights. In the evening I enjoy looking at my happy spot, and wanted some light and diversity for evening viewing. They add bright color during the day and have attracted hummingbirds. In the early mornings I spotted hummingbirds trying to gather nectar from these artificial blooms. So I added a hummingbird feeder to my happy spot.

The early morning is busy with bees gathering nectar from the squash and pumpkin blooms. The hummingbirds coming in for food. The small birds eating bugs from the trees and plants. And the lone woodpecker, red headed flicker, picking bugs off the trees. These are pleasant to observe as I start my day of busy work.

Currently some of my containers are empty. I plant radishes and onions in them. We have harvested the radishes and onions. I will plant some more seed once the temperatures begin to drop. Our current heat of over 100 degrees fahrenheit makes starting seedlings difficult as the young plants perish in the heat. The tomato plants are not setting fruit for the same reason, too hot.

We harvest summer squash from the one plant in this spot about every three days, adding some fresh vegetables to our meals. The butternut squash plant is several dozen fruits growing along its long trentale stems, but they are green and will not be ready to harvest until fall. Another lesson my husband had to learn after he brought three green butternut squash into the kitchen one evening.

The pumpkin plant is becoming large, covering the beets that finally decided to sprout. I had planted beets in the early spring, only they did not seem to sprout. So I place a pumpkin seed in the center of the small area, as the pumpkin plant could expand onto the grass lawn area. The pumpkin came up, and while adjusting the running stems to go onto the grass area, I discovered beets underneath. How well these beets will grow and develop I will watch as they are heavily shaded by the pumpkin plant. Beside the beets is sweet basil, having been seeded the previous year from the sweet basil I had in a pot. When disturbed the small plants release a sweet pleasant smell. I am also able to use this herb for cooking, and goes well with summer squash.

I have to have one pumpkin plant to produce pumpkins for carving with my granddaughter in October. The size the pumpkin plant obtains, makes for a very invading plant partner as it crowds the plants near it with its every reaching stems, blooms and fruit. I was able to place the few rocks I had gathered around this planting area before the squash plant starting getting too big.

My little happy spot sparks joy at the beginning and during the day. I learned to help with the depression I face daily, it is good to surround my area with things that spark joy, make me feel good about myself and my life.

Do you have a “happy spot”, a place to get away from the daily grind, and just relax? or a place the you feel joy in when you enter? Have you thought about creating your own little “happy spot”?

amtolle

Planters (part 1)

I like to have unique or different planters for the plants outside. I enjoy recycling or repurposing an item, to be used again instead of throwing into the garbage, and the item ultimately being in the landfill or ocean. I find that repurposing something is less expensive than buying an item for the purpose. Today, it is planters. I love plants and growing things, but I do not always have enough containers to put plants.

I wanted some planters for my new patio. I am repurposing two metal coffee cans. If I were not repurposing these metal cans, they would be in the metal pile to be taken to a scrap iron yard and recycled.

For my project I am using the two metal cans, some wallpaper border I fell in love with, sand paper (the size of the grit is not important), a paint brush, and wallpaper glue or paste.

Since I am making planters, I need to drill a couple of holes to allow excess water to drain away from the roots of the plants. I used a 1/4 inch drill to make the holes. I would not go larger than 1/4 inch, as the soil would escape from the planter.

Removing the labels, I will sand the sides of the cans. The sanding is to create a broken surface, or rough surface for the wallpaper adhesive to bond to. Sanding to create the rough surface does not take much effort, basically just rubbing the sandpaper back and forth to create “scratches” in the polished metal.

Next, I measured out the wallpaper border to fit around the can, with 1/2 inch extra. I had found this wallpaper border at a Habitat for Humanity Store. I love visiting those stores, and have purchased building materials for remodeling and updating my home. This wallpaper border does not go with the interior theme of the house. But it will look good for planters.

I put the wallpaper adhesive on the can a few inches starting at the top and moving to the bottom. I attach the wallpaper making sure it is straight. Proceeding along the side, adding some adhesive and attaching the wallpaper a few inches at a time until I reach the start. I place some adhesive on the 1/2 inch extra and attach. I then take a damp rag, with gentle pressure I rub the wallpaper around the metal can, smoothing out bubbles and wrinkles, and making sure the wallpaper is glued to the whole surface of the can.

I am pleased with the final product. These will look nice on the patio, adding some unique color and design.

I placed rosemary in the new pots. Rosemary is good to keep mosquitos and spiders away for an area. They do not like the smell. A gentle rub on the leaves will release the aroma of the rosemary. Rosemary is also good for cooking in italian dishes, fish and lamb. When using fresh rosemary for cooking, a little bit adds a lot of flavor, fresh is much stronger than dried. You can also dry the rosemary you grow in planters.

amtolle

Grandpa’s Garden

Photo by Greta Hoffman on Pexels.com

The enjoyment of gardening started when I was nine years old. My dad purchased twenty-four acres that was used as hay ground. He moved our mobile home or trailer house to the land. Along with us came my grandparents, my dad’s parents in a mobile home. That spring there was to be a garden.

My sister and I worked with my dad putting in an absolutely straight as an arrow fence. My dad was a perfectionist of sorts, when he did a job, he did it right. “Do a job right the first time, and you will only have to do it once” were words he often spoke to us. My dad used a surveyors transits to make sure the fenceline was straight.

My grandpa loved to garden. He was retired and liked to keep busy. A place was selected for the garden. Dad plowed the garden area to loosen up the soil and break the grass roots up so a rototiller would be able to work the soil. Then Grandpa spent two days going over the area with a rototiller. All day for two days, when he was done, the soil had a fine texture, no clumps and no grass.

Next was to set out the rows and irrigation ditches. The acreage was watered by flood irrigation. The garden would be watered using the same method. Dad and Grandpa made a tool using a level and lumber to determine the slope of the garden area, to find high spots and low spots. The low spots would collect water, not good for plants as the roots would rot. The high spots would not get enough water. After walking all over the garden area with the leveling tool, next was to grade or smooth the area getting rid of low and high spots.

For the grading, Dad and Grandpa made a drag from railroad ties, attached ropes to the ends and pulled this railroad tie leveler back and forth across the garden area. Then out would come the leveling tool to see find the high and low spots again. The process took a whole Saturday. As a kid, a whole Saturday doing one job, was a very long time. When they were done, the whole family gathered at the edge of the garden. With pride my dad said, “The garden is now ready for rows.”

Months before, my mom would spend hours with Grandpa, selecting seeds, and learning how to map out a garden. Different plants needed different width of rows for growing room. They drew a map for the rows and labeled each row with a name.

The string and stakes along with a tape measure came out, my Dad’s favorite tools as they were used for everything we did. Going my Grandpa’s carefully drawn map, they started putting in ditches. Marking the ditches with stakes and string, they cut the ditches into the soil using a hoe. The ditches were for the water. Us kids were told to stay out of the “garden” until all the ditches were done. They did not need us tromping all over messing with the strings and ditches. When all the ditches were in place, the water was diverted down the irrigation ditch into the garden ditch, and water flowed. Dad and Grandpa watched the water flow down every ditch, making sure the flow was even. The first flowing of the water was to settle the soil and put moisture back in. Two days later they had the water flow a second time, this was to mark where to put the seeds.

The garden was ready to receive the seeds. I was eager to learn anything. My siblings and myself were not allowed to help with the garden prepping, but we would be allowed to plant seeds. My mother did not want us in the garden at all, but Grandma said we were old enough to learn. Grandpa and Dad agreed, and said us kids could work beside them. They would teach us how to plant.

Grandpa took me to teach me how to plant. We started with the corn. Taking out a tape measure, ( I think a tape measure was one of his favorite tools as well.) we walked to the area for the corn. I was told to hold the tape measure and seeds while he made the planting row with a hoe, just above the water line in the ditch. Grandpa taught me how to use the tape measure to measure 6 inches. Place a seed at the very beginning of the planting row, then measure 6 inches from the seed, and place another. I went down the rows, measuring 6 inches and placing seeds. Grandpa made the rest of the planting rows, while I planted. I felt so important as I was planting seeds on my own. When he finished the planting rows for all the corn, he came back to fill in the rows I had placed seeds. He told me I was doing a great job.

After the corn, we planted green beans. Green beans were 4 inches apart. Dad and my sister and brother planted the carrots, radishes, peas, black eyed peas and beets. Grandma was teaching mom how to transplant the 30 tomato plants that Grandma had started and grown in the house for a month.

Next Grandpa took me to the squash and cucumber area. There the rows were farther apart. He would take a step and mark with the hoe, take a step and mark. Then he came back to me and said “now let’s plant”. He showed me how to make a small mound, put a hole with my finger in the center and place three seeds next to each other. He would cut the water ditch to go around the mound. We planted the squash and cucumbers. When we looked up, the others had finished what they were planting.

Once again, we gathered at the edge of the garden. With pride we surveyed the work we had done. The garden was planted. Us kids were told to stay out of the garden unless we had an adult with us. They did not want us tromping on the new plants when they appeared.

Grandpa would water the garden several times a week. I watched the bare ground begin to turn green. Grandpa would take me through the garden teaching me how to water and identify the different plants that were sprouting. When the plants were four inches tall, we started pulling weeds and grass. Grandpa showed and guided me in using the hoe to get the weeds and grass on the top of the rows making weeding faster. I had to carefully pull weeds and grass near the plants so I would not damage or kill them.

I would watch for Grandpa to come out of his house, and head to the garden. Mom did not spend much time in the garden. But Grandpa and Grandma were there almost everyday. I worked beside them learning how to grow and care for the plants that provide food for the table. When they were ready, my grandparents showed me how to harvest the fruit of our labors.

Grandpa and Grandma only stayed two years with us in the twenty-four acres. Two years I learned to how to grow a garden.

amtolle

Tomatoes

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I love vine ripened tomatoes. I planted some seeds in solo cups inside the house. I also purchased three plants from a nursery. In this post I will show you the progress of those I planted and the method I use for planting them outside in containers and the ground.

Above is a purchased tomato plant, grape tomato variety I am planting into a large pot. Tomatoes can grow in containers, but the container or pot needs to be at least three gallons or larger. The larger the fruit the plant will produce the larger the container needs to be. The plant requires a root system to draw sufficient nutrients from the soil to supply nutrients to the plant and fruit. Larger fruit, larger root system to support the plant and fruit, hence a larger pot or container.

I fill my pot or container 3/4 full with soil, or potting mix. I make an hole for plant, making sure the bottom of the planting hole is 4 inches above the bottom of the container. Next I add crushed egg shells to add calcium to aid in the prevention of blossom end rot, a nutrient deficient disease.

I will pinch off or use scissors to cut off the lower leaves of the plant. I do not want leaves below the soil. The stem in the soil will start growing roots. I then fill with soil, then water to remove all the air from around the roots.

Every tomato plant needs at least one, but preferably two marigold plants. Why do tomato plants need marigolds, to keep away the tomato cutworm. These worms true identity is a caterpillar. The caterpillar will strip away the leaves and eat the tomatoes ripe or green, leaving you with a dying plant and no tomatoes.

Caterpillars are the young of butterflies and moths. The tomato caterpillar is the young of a moth, and the moths do not like Marigold and the scent marigold put off. If you do see little black feces on the leaves of your tomato plants, there is probably tomato cutworms. These worms camouflage very well with the tomato plant. But at night with a black light, they show up gloriously. I do not spray my tomato plants with insecticide, I find the cutworms and pick them off.

Happy gardening.

amtolle

Weekend Workings

Change requires new ways of doing something, sometimes new plans and occasionally new location. The closure of the sheep and goat auction I have attended the past 5 years is a major change. Learning I am going to be a grandmother to triplets is a major change.

I am a sheep farmer, my income comes from the profit I make after paying expenses for selling the sheep I raise. Basic business plan is to keep expenses low in order to have more profit. The sheep auction was close to my farm. With the closure I had to determine where I am going to haul my market lambs in order to sell. I decided to sell the market lambs directly to the processor located three hour drive one way. The processor is honest and will give me a market price for the lambs. This processor purchased my market lambs at the sheep auction, I was saved the expense of transporting the market lambs the additional 2-3 hours farther.

My breeding sheep that I sell does not change. I have always sold the breeding stock directly off the farm. No change there. I will lose the opportunity to make contacts for those wanting breeding stock. I will have to go to social media to sell.

The one problem that took some time to work a plan on was where to sell the cull sheep. The cull sheep are ewes who have lived past 8 years of age or have problems delivering lambs. I have found a sheep auction located 3 hours drive from where I live, in the opposite direction of the processor to sell the cull ewes.

Sheep farm problems solved, at least for now.

Every week I receive information in the mail and phone calls of realtors stating they have a person interested in buying my home. The real estate market is very “hot” in my location. There are more people wanting to move into this area, than there are home available. Majority of real estate listings do not stay on the market past 30 days before being under contract of purchase. Quick sells are the norm for my location.

I received such a notice in the mail this past week, saying they were looking for a home for themselves. I decided to give them a call. They came out Saturday. People tell so many lies. They were not looking for themselves but was “fishing” for a listing in my area, for a quick sale and money in their pocket.

We have entertained the idea of selling our property with the desire to move closer to my daughter who is pregnant with triplets. I know that for the next several years a helping hand will be appreciated, or more a “taxi”. My daughter’s family wants their children to be around animals and see farm life. But with the size of their soon to be family, that is monetarily out of the picture. They will have to visit Granny’s and PawPaw’s place to see and experience farm life.

We will eventually move closer, but not today and not this year.

The other activity was planting the flower and vegetable garden area. I love working in the dirt. One of my favorite places to go shopping and even window shopping is a garden center or nursery. I love looking at plants. My husband took me to the local nursery. I was able to find some plants to add to my garden area.

I also discovered Chronicles Bells. They make the most lovely sounding windchimes. The soft, harmonious sound of the windchimes was relaxing and soothing to my busy mind. The drawback was the price, the windchimes I desired were $240.00 USD. More than my budget would allow at this time. They are on the waiting list, maybe Christmas gift list. If you have the opportunity to listen to these windchimes, they are worth the effort, and the money.

I planted and transplanted vegetables and flower in the garden area. I also had to do some clean up from the winter in order to plant. I took pictures and will have future posts on what and how I place plants in my garden area and containers.

We also did the regular activities of feeding animals, buying grain and dog food, groceries. There is always something that needs to be done on the farm. I enjoy what I do.

amtolle

Song of the Mockingbird

The start of each day begins in my office. There is a window I look out as I plan my day. Watching and listening in the office is one of my favorite times of the day. From this window I watch the weather for the day. I can tell how strong and what direction the wind is blowing from a rope hanging from the tree. I love watching the various birds as they fly in to rest on a branch or twig, sing a song and fly off once more. Each season has a different group of birds who visit the trees in my front yard.

Today I heard what I have been waiting for a couple of weeks to hear, the song of the mockingbird. The shirl melodious mating song of the mockingbird is the sign that spring has arrived in the area I live. I can not plant my vegetable and flower plants outside without worry of freezing frost.

I have learned to listen. Also experience has taught me to listen for the mockingbird song. I enjoy the festy birds who will sing all hours of the day and night. Several pairs of mockingbirds will set up their nest and raise their young in the trees outside my front door. When the mockingbirds leave, the cold north winds will arrive with winter.

Sleeping Ute Mountain, Colorado photo by Anne McWilliams

Every area has indicators of spring or when it is time to plant. When I lived in Colorado, the time to plant was when the winter blanket came off of Sleeping Ute Mountain. The “wives’ tales” or myths concerning planting time are an area vary depending on whom you talk with about gardening.

Nature shows us many things, if we will listen with simplicity, not science or others options.

Today, I could not plant as the rain arrive this afternoon, but tomorrow I will be busy in my garden area putting seeds in the ground with hopes of summer and fall harvest. Nothing tastes better on the plate than vegetables you assisted in growing.

amtolle.