Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Gardening and stuff

The new front garden / strawberry bed.
There's a lot growing at the Freehold this week! Our beans are huge, and I believe we're starting to get flowers. The peas are attacking their fencing with gusto. The first of the spring spinach has been harvested and eaten. The radishes are looking tempting, although aren't yet ready to come up. There's so much green around, and it's difficult to just... wait. One of my favorite new additions is the strawberry bed, pictured above. The edge is full of strawberry plants, and the center has two amaryllis flowers, two dahlias, and many marigolds (not yet mature enough to be seen). Next year, the bulbs will come out and more strawberries will go in (we have wild ones that are sweet as anything that are being transplanted here), but we only had time for the 40 strawberry plants we put in.

Split wood for winter.
We've started on the harvesting of our 2012-13 wood supply already. The electric company people have been taking down a lot of local trees, and since everyone around here knows that we heat mainly with wood, they've been offering us their downed logs. So far, I'd say we've managed to collect at least a cord worth of decent hardwood, for free. Gray has already begun splitting it, although a friend has threatened to bring his gas-powered splitter over, which would be a marvelous thing. Still, I'm not complaining. The more wood we get split before the fall, the better our fires will be this coming winter. We're not likely to get another warm winter like this past year, so we need to really be prepared.

Beans and peas.
Our beans and peas have really taken off. I'm using shaved wood as mulch right now, which seems to be doing well enough. Gray had to plane several pieces of wood, which generated an awful lot of very clean pine shavings, and you can see that there's no weed matter coming through at all. Around the edges is a different matter, of course, and I do need to get out and weed around the raised beds. Still, the beds themselves have had only minimal weeds at this point, tiny wee ones that have taken less than five minutes a day to take care of. I'm very pleased with the raised bed system, even if it doesn't look quite the way I intended when I started on this endeavor.

Tomatoes in buckets
I had planned on having a couple more of the raised beds ready for cucumbers and tomatoes, but that didn't turn out quite as well as planned. Instead, the few tomato plants I have are going two to a bucket. Each of these plastic buckets has failed us in some way, either collapsing and spilling out their contents, or cracking in some way. They all have holes, which makes them a great way to grow plants. They are, for all intents and purposes, instant raised beds. I filled them with compost and dirt, and in went the tomatoes. These ones (four of them) were courtesy of sis's mom, who visited a week ago. They're already flowering, and I'm very excited. They're the type that bear all summer, so I do hope that means we'll get a good crop of tomatoes out of them. I'll still need to buy some for canning, but at least our summer eating will be well taken care of. The baby tomato plants I started indoors ages ago never really took off. I've planted them, but honestly, I'm not expecting much from them.

Spuds in sacks!
The potatoes appear to be doing alright, although I suppose I won't know for a couple more weeks. I got them in very late, and the only seed potatoes I could find were quite withered and had long LONG eyes. Still, I am hoping that just means they're ready to explode with great growth and produce wonderful tons of spuds for me and my family now that they're in good quality compost. I decided to try my hand at the potato towers everyone was going on about, and so I have two of these filled with reds. The very top of each tower has five Yukon gold seed potatoes, which I'm hoping may also take. At this point, it's just more of that horrid waiting game.

The herb bed
My herbs are doing very well. Sis's mother got us some Greek oregano, some tarragon, and some thyme, all of which are in the bed now. My parsley is coming along nicely, and the cilantro I planted directly in the bed is doing marvelously. The sage is coming along, though slowly, and the basil never came up at all this year. I'm rather bummed about that, as I am a fan of fresh pesto, but again, I'm sure I'll find things at local markets this summer. And... it's still early.

We have a lot of flowers planted already this year. Some came with the house: day lilies, irises, and some interesting 'fuzzy' type greenery that is supposed to sport tiny yellow flowers eventually. Others we planted ourselves. I'm going to be taking some wildflower seeds I have, and tossing them out back along the stone wall at the edge of our property. They might grow and they might not (they're a bit out of date) but any that do sprout will be so beautiful. At the very least, the local critters will have a feast. We have several flowering bushes around the house, too, most of which I have no name for. The ones pictured here are the most delicate little pink flowers, and I've fallen totally in love with them.

Wild rose canes
These wild roses are going to be planted along our front property line. When the electric guys came, they took down all our privacy trees, leaving us largely exposed to the road. It isn't a big deal, but we really enjoyed that privacy, and the feeling of solitude it gave us. So, instead of whining about it, we're planting natural barbed wire to keep the nosy ones out. Wild roses have wicked thorns, and we received dozens of canes which will get planted as soon as the ground stops being so wet. This should be enough to create a full barrier between us and the road. Hopefully they'll grow up the trees a bit, and really block things off.

We hope to plant thorned blackberries on our side of that rose barrier, both as a secondary fence and as a method of providing our children with the fruit they seem to inhale. It's disturbing to see your twin six year olds freebasing strawberries...