Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spring Planting Update

Here are a few pictures from our backyard urban gardening efforts:

We planted garlic in a bed around the perimeter of our deck in late-October 2012.
At this point we ahve 29 shoots of garlic well established and a few more developing.

The bulbs were covered with 4 inches of mulch.
We had lots of snow, but the garlic is doing well.

Strawberries in containers.
The stawberries were mulched for over-wintering.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Gathering Earthbox Supplies on a Rainy Day

It was cloudy and rainy this morning, so our goal of preparing more of our above ground beds and setting up our Earthboxes today had to be put on hold. We decided to pick up the rest of the garden lime, organic plant food, and potting soil instead.

The rain turned out to be a blessing. It turned out to be our lucky day after all.

We headed out to our favorite locally owned gardening shop and quickly obtained our Epsoma Garden Lime and Fox Farm Organic Fertilizer. The shop did not have any of the Pro Mix Organic Potting Soil that worked so well for us last year, but worked in our favor big time today.

I asked one of the employees if they had any Pro Mix Organic in the back somewhere. The answer was a quick, "No." But he did say that they had some Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix (OMRI certified).

I said, "I was hoping for some Pro Mix."

He replied, "How does $3.99 a bag sound for 1 cubic foot bags?"


We picked up 22 bags. (I'll bet he's wishing he'd have asked how many bags we wanted first.) :-)

An early picture from last year's set-up taken in late May 2012.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spring Planting Day

Burpee Organic and Heirloom Seeds

The weather here in S.E. Michigan is warming up as we wrap up first Sunday of April today.  We decided to plant some cool weather vegetables today.

We planted a row each of Georgia Collards (actually not organic or heirloom), Swiss Chard, Lettuce, Radishes today. We also planted 3 small rows of Red Onions.

Growing Watermelon in Compost Bags

I wrote a blog post last year about my attempts to emulate a You Tube video demonstrating how to grow watermelons by direct sowing seed into a a bag of compost.

I planted three Carolina Cross seeds purchased from the Burpee display rack at the local big box home supply store and crossed my fingers. If you are not familar with Carolina Cross, they are capable of producing 200 lb watermelons under the right conditions.

We had several days with temps above 100 degrees in my backyard last year. Apparently, the heat was not good for my watermelon-growing-in-a-bag-of-compost attempt. There were days when the watermelon could have benefitted from some additional water throughout the day.

It took two months for the water melon to form the first idications of fruit and another month to reach softball size. In mid-September I picked two or three very small melons with high hopes, but when they were cut open it was evident that my attempt was a failure. They were nearly 1/2 rotten. I think the lack of water must have contributed to the poor results. I watered through the slits cut into the top of the bag by inserting a water hose for about 3 minutes, but some days the soil was completely dried out by mid-afternoon.

I don't have space to plant the melons the traditional way - in hills. The plant-in-a-bag technique sounded perfect. Maybe I'll try it again this year (or maybe not).

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Permaculture Information and Inspiration

"When you're inspired by passion, nothing is too hard." - Valerie Herman, permaculturist

I am not knowledgeable about permaculture, but I do find it fascinating. While do some reading about it online today I discovered this video of Eli and Val's Garden near Jacksonville, FL.

Most of us can't embrace all of the practices Val and Eli have employed at their home, but as explained in the video they started with three small kale plants and kept adding on. What you see in the video is the culmination of 3 years work.

Caution: Before you decide to go whole hog with permaculture, please consider how your neighbors and township might react. In some areas of the country this type of urban agriculture is more accepted that in other areas.

I don't know for sure, but I suspect that Val and Eli have included their neighbors in their plans by being open about their vision for permaculture. Involving the local community and educating them about your plans can save you headaches and possible legal problems later on.