Garden Expansion

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It’s been awhile since the last post and where should I begin.  I hope all is well with everyone as fall enters the weather patterns.  Here in Nebraska it’s been quite pleasant with 70s during the day and 40s at night.  The tomatoes and bell peppers are hanging on, but I suspect they will succumb to the first frosty night that looms up in the not too distant future.

My garden expansion plan this last week was brought to completion with only two new beds instead of three.  The area designated was not large enough for three beds.  Two will have to do until I can remove a bush to expand in the other direction.  So lets get started with the new expansion.

A trip to Lowe’s, my favorite place, to pick up supplies was first on the adgenda. Of course, on the way home a stop at the Border’s book store for a cup of coffee and an hour of reading garden-oriented magazines to get my project juices flowing was next on the list of things to do. Upon arriving home the first thing to do is to mow the grass down as short as possible. I used to be a proponent of double digging then I read about Ruth Stout and her method of no dig gardening. I liked that a lot better. Her theory was, in my words, don’t dig, just pile it high, mulch it deep, and plant. I have a modified version that works for me.

The next thing to do is build the first patio block path between the beds. I just lay the blocks on top of the grass. Does the grass grow up between the cracks? Of course it does but a little weed whack every time I mow keeps things in check. Besides a little woodsy look, in my humble opinion, makes the garden look better. It gives the look of country instead of manicured urban city. So the stash of patio blocks stored on the sideyard for the last three years will finally be used. After piling a few in the wheel borrow, it just don’t feel like moving too well. A discovery of low air in the tire solves the mystery. Ever notice how unexpected things just sort of pop up in a project.

Yes, I’m pretty old school. Most of my friends have air compressors and all the accessories. Me, I just have a tire pump that has served me for years of pumping up bicycles tires, car tires, and anything else that needs a little extra air pressure.

Finally back to the task at hand. The path is about 18 inches wide, which is just wide enough to be able to walk between the beds. Some plants try to invade this area like the tomatoes, but a good sharp knife keeps them in check. It just seems to be the right width.

Next would be to bring in the timbers from the truck. Fourteen trips later the task was completed and the sawing began. You all saw (get it saw) that process in my building blog from last fall so I won’t bore you again with that process.

After hauling, carrying, sawing, building, and laying more block it’s time to take a break don’t you think? Ok there were many breaks over the two days that this project took. You folks know me too well.

Well, finally finished. There’s nothing like a good project getting fininshed. As you can see I’ve already started piling it high with fall yard cleanup. There’s enough to fill the two new beds as high as they can go. If not the neighbors have volunteered to contribute.

The garden is winding down and the tomatoes and bell peppers still have some life left. I expect the harvesting will be soon finished. I hand dug some potatoes and ate them yesterday. Literally, I took my hand a pushed it down beside a potato plant and came up with … potatoes. Imagine that. The potato harvest begins with great anticipation. I love potatoes.

So what have we learned from gardening this year. There were good things and not so good things. The tomatoes were definitely a success and will be expanded to eight plants up from four. The Bell Peppers were also a success and will be upped from three plants to eight plants. The onions were a funny deal. I planted them in early spring and they did well until about the middle of June. The tops died off and they were dormant until about the middle of August when they started new growth all over again. They now have bigger and stonger tops than before. I’m waiting a little longer to see if they will mature. What’s up with that? I’m not sure about planting onions next year. The potatoes seem to be a success, but I’ve only harvested one plant. I will leave them in the ground as long as I can before digging up the entire lot for winter storage. The cucumbers were a success and they will have a full bed of eight plants for making dill pickles. A few dill plants will top off the whole garden experience for next year.

Remember the ideas about pole beans and morning glories on the trellis? Here’s what pole beans look like without sun. It’s kind of what all my plants used to look like before getting a little help from my GRIT friends. The lesson learned here is that a little more research is needed to find vine plants that grow in the shade. Anyone have suggestions? The Morning Glories turned out just about the same. Not to worry, I now know two plants that won’t work on my Poor Man’s Patio trellis. There’s only how many plant species to go?

This would be what Morning Glory looks like with just a little sun. It did manage to produce a flower here and there. Still it’s not what I had imagined it would be.

So next year the garden and patio will be bigger and better than ever. How about your plans for next year? I’d love to hear about the successes and failures of this year. I am actually going to try to grow some heirloom okra from seed sent to me by a fellow blogger in Dallas, Texas. It’s strictly an experiment as to whether it will grow this far north. I’ve never heard of anyone trying it before so it could be a total bust.

I hope your fall harvest days are all good ones that will be remembered all winter long.

Leave a comment to let me know about what’s been happening in your dirt lately.