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Category Archives: raised bed gardening

Ratatouille time!

Late July harvest

Things really got going in my garden late July.  This photo was one of the first big picks of the season.

I’d never had success with eggplant in previous years’ gardens.  Tiny, shiny black beetles would turn the leaves to lace in hours.

Ever tried to squoosh one of those critters?  They are so fast!   I didn’t see as many this year, but I had sprayed the plants with some sort of a neem-oil based pesticide.  I think it worked.

Also in the basket:  several varieties of tomatoes, peppers, the first generation of pattypan squash, lone carrot, stray cucumber, bush beans.

Note:  not all my plants were in the raised beds:  I planted the tomatoes and bush beans directly in the ground, and the squash in the hay bales.

What I wouldn't give for one of those fat tomatoes right now

 

Hay bale gardening. My grade: C minus.

Beginnings of hay bale experiment

Here you can see the two hay bales I decided to try along with my raised beds last June.

I’d heard they were a great space-saver in a garden and provided a great growing medium, so I bought two at the hardware store.  I followed directions I’d found googling:  place on side, water thoroughly, wait a couple weeks till they start rotting, then plant.

So I did.  Waited about 10 days till the hay looked like it was composting down, then I planted 6 squash starts in one (crookneck and zucchini)  In the other I planted pattypan seeds (I put some compost on top from our compost pile so the seeds weren’t sowed directly into the bale).

Three days later, the starts were yellowing, then dead after a week or so.  I think maybe 10 days wasn’t enough.  I also didn’t like how quickly the bales dried out (read:  constant watering, ugh.)  I started over again with more starts but that bale never really did so well.  The pattypan seeds, on the other hand, went crazy.  We had so many pattypan squash out of that bale and they lasted, and lasted and lasted….(even continued to grow despite the yearly attack of the squash vine borers, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog entry!)

 

Early summer and loving it

I could not believe how well the lettuce did — suddenly we were faced with lots and lots of beautiful romaine and we were eating big ol’ green salads just about every meal….it was the first time I’d had enough that I was calling neighbors and friends (lots of them) to come pick salads.  Other gardens of mine cranked out the trite overabundance of baseball-bat-sized zucchini that I’d shared with (pawned off on) others.  So I was pretty proud of a glut of something that people actually *liked* to receive from my garden.  I even gave giant ziplocs of mixed greens salads as part of my end-of-year gifts for my boys’ preschool teachers.

 

Sow. Water. Wait….Wait, no weeding?

Oh what a joy to spend time looking at the plants growing in the beds instead of fretting over the wiregrass that used to inhabit this spot in the yard!  Raised bed gardening is so much easier than any kind of gardening I’ve done before.  It’s an especially good match for parents of toddlers as time for most things is pretty limited.

Dinosaur kale, arugula, lettuce (romaine, black-seeded simpson, red leaf)


 

I fought the slugs…and *I* won!

Every other garden I’ve had has been trashed by slugs in early spring.  Baby lettuce? Nuked.  Fragile tomato and pepper seedlings?  No match for the slimy destroyers.  They are so gross and frustrating.  HOWEVER, in Spring 2010 the slugs had no chance.  I think the combination of raised beds and this magic copper tape (well, it’s magic to me) kept them at bay.

Copper tape

I put the copper tape all the way around the bottom of my raised beds, about an inch or so up from the ground.   Slugs won’t crawl across it because it supposedly gives them a mild electrical shock when they touch it (mwah-haa-haa, take that!).   You can see it in the background of this picture:

Copper tape on beds in background

It was not an easy installation as the copper was kind of thin (and sharp — think paper cut but with metal.  Ow.)  But it was definitely worth it, and it survived last summer’s rain and heat, and is still intact after our record-setting cold days this winter!

 
 
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