Thursday, May 30, 2013

Raised Beds Progress

There are two raised beds planted as square foot gardens. Each bed is measured out into 16 squares. Numbering starts with the square on the near left as square #1 and and continues on to square #4 on the lower right. The row above has square #5 on the left and #8 on the right and so on until you get to square #16 in the upper right corner.

Above is bed #2 positioned northerly of bed #1. 

On April 20, lettuce seeds were planted in squares #1-Buttercrunch, #2-Superfresh, #3-Winter Density Green Romaine(Cos) and #4-Red Rosie Red Romaine(Cos). Carrot seeds were planted in squares #5-Kaleidoscope and #6-Scarlet Nantes.

On April 20 the following squares were planted with commercially started tomato plants, #9-Beefstake, #10-Mortgage Lifter, #11-Mr. Stripey, #12-Bonnie Grape.

On May 13, the following squares were seeded with varieties of lettuce, #7-Butterhead #8-Adriana MTO, #2&3-Red and Green Romaine(Cos) Mix.

On May 27 the following squares were seeded, #13&14-Watermelon, Bush Sugar Baby, #15&16-Cucumber, Tendergreen

Above is bed #1 which is southerly of bed #2.

On April 30 commercially started tomatoes were planted, #9-Super Sweet 100 Grape, #10-Black Krim.

On May 7 the following commercially started pepper varieties were planted, #1-Carmen, #4-Sangria, #5-Anaheim, #6-Mucho Nacho, #7-Red Bell and #8-Orange Bell.

On May 13 lettuce was seeded in squares #2 and #3. Unfortunately, I didn't note the varieties. #11&12 planted with Rutgers commercially started tomatoes. 

On May 27, #13 and #14 were seeded with Sweet Burpless Cucumber.

Above planted in bed #1, square #4 is an ornamental hot pepper called Sangria that has buds and blooming flowers visible.

The tomatoes planted back on April 20 have progressed to the point that they need support. I started to rip some lumber to make four more trellises. I hope to have them finished and installed soon.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Monday, May 27, 2013

Organic Fertilizer Formula

Using the original Square Foot Gardening as a reference, I mixed a batch of organic fertilizer.

The ingredients were:

  1. Blood meal
  2. Bone meal
  3. Wood ash

Measure one part, by volume, each blood and bone meals with two parts wood ash.

Small quantities of blood and bone meals were purchased at a home improvement store. The wood ash was supplied by my neighbor who uses a wood stove to supplement the heating of his house.

I was given the wood ash in a plastic waste can liner a few weeks ago. It was placed under cover on my patio near the raised beds. It rained several days since. Needless to say, the ash was wet when I was ready to mix the fertilizer.

Using a kitchen strainer, I sifted large pieces out of the wet ashes.  Then the wet ash was poured into the mug to measure. Since the ash was wet, I figured there was a significant amount of water in the mug along with the ash. Compensating for the water, I increased the amount of ash by 50% to three measures.

Once all the elements were blended, they were placed into a large kitchen pan which which was then placed in the sun. The fertilizer will be much easier to handle once the sun dries the mixture.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Friday, May 24, 2013

Direct Seed 29 Days of Progress

The seeds sown directly on April 20, 2013 show signs of progress.

Both boxes were closely sown and needed thinning. The seedlings in the longer box were thinned. Thinning of crowded sown seeds gives room for growth to the strongest looking seedlings.

The radishes have grown tall after thinning.  Now, the smaller box needs thinning.

©Damyon T. Verbo - All rights reserved

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Oaks Shopping Center Construction Mid-May

Just wanted to keep you up to date on the view in Oaks. Mid-May the construction was at full speed. Possibly a dozen active pieces of heavy equipment.

A large pit was dug. Storage tanks were placed at the bottom of the pit and was backfilled with the grey gravel. You can see it on the left side of the above photograph. The tanks were probably for the fuel to be pumped at the soon to be built Wawa.

An excavator was digging at the site of the unregulated traffic entrance to the shopping center on Egypt Road.

Piles of earth and crushed stone were everywhere.

Within the year the area will never be dark again. The smell of frying burgers will fill the air twenty-four hours a day. Oaks will never look or smell the same.

©Damyon  T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Lazy Bed Potato Planting Method

Last year I grew potatoes in towers. The towers were constructed of wire fencing material rolled into columns. Each tower was lined with fabric and rebar was driven into the ground close to each tower for support.

6"/15cm of shredded leaves from the previous autumn were alternately layered in each tower with a layer of seed potatoes.

A 12"/30cm layer of growing medium was placed atop each tower into which was planted a grape/patio tomato. This proved to be a mistake. I was unable to harvest the potatoes when they were ready for harvest because the tomatoes were still producing.

Although, for the season, the grape tomatoes were productive(13.2 lbs/6.448k), I was disappointed with the potato production (2.11 lbs/1.031k).

This year I planted a few potatoes from the towers harvest of last year, combined with some sprouting potatoes from a bag of commercially grown potatoes found in my pantry. However, I used a different planting method.

I had a supply of sod I cut during the process of preparing the second raised bed site. This reminded me of a method of potato planting told to me by an Irishman who was raised in the Wicklow mountains outside Dublin, the Lazy Bed.

Basically, to make the lazy bed, potatoes are placed on the ground atop the grass. The sod next to the potatoes is dug up and flipped over onto the potatoes. Easy right? Sounded easy to me. Plus, I already had sod cut.

I chose a site close to my second raised bed. I decided to use the same footprint of my raised bed, 4'/1.21m square, for the lazy bed.

I placed four potatoes in a row, each 12"/30cm from each other. I also placed a drip irrigation tube in each row. The drippers are conveniently spaced 12"/30cm apart which made the potato spacing easy.

The previously cut sod was then placed atop the rows of potatoes.

The overturned sod was then covered with 4"/ 10cm of shredded leaves. The mulch of shredded leaves will retain moisture, provide food and allow ease of weeding. Plus I had to move the pile of leaves off my patio.

I hope the production of potatoes will increase with this method. Time will tell.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Drip Irrigation System Alteration

The initial installation of the drip irrigation system had one major drawback that needed to be altered.

The supply line bridged from one raised bed to the other about 10.5"/27cm above the ground. In order to walk between the beds I had to climb over the supply line. That created a tripping hazard. A hazard I didn't want to deal with day in and day out.

To rectify the situation I purchased 6-90ยบ elbows to route the supply line down the face of the frame, across the ground, back up the adjacent frame and again down the opposite side of the second frame, continuing across the ground to the faucet.

Another project will be to get some wood chips from the township woodchip pile to cover the landscape cloth. That is, after I remove all the seeds that have fluttered down from the nuisance Norway maple trees. I am not sure which has a better survival instinct, the maples or dandelions

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sprout Thinning and Sucker Pinching

While I was installing the drip irrigation system in the raised beds, I did a bit of maintenance.

I transplanted some overcrowded lettuce from one slit to a slit that had no sprouting lettuce.

I marked the unproductive slits by poking my finger through the slit into the growing medium. The plastic mulch was then pulled back revealing the hole.

A sprout or two was taken from one of the overcrowded slits and place into the poked holes.

The medium was then firmed around the newly transplanted sprouts. 

The plastic mulch was replaced being sure to align the slits with the sprouts. The slits were enlarged to allow more room for sprout growth.

The tomato plants have already added green mass over the last week or so. 

Along with regular growth there were many suckers that needed to be pinched off the vines.

As you can see there were quite a bit to remove. By removing the suckers the plant can use its strength to grow a strong central stem and additional roots. A strong stem is needed to support the soon to be tall vine. More roots will benefit the plant with a stronger base. They will also have the ability to reach deep below the sun dried surface where moisture is present. 

Thinned and pinched the garden is looking good.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Drip Watering System for Lazy Vegetable Gardening

I am, what I call, a lazy gardener. I don't mind working hard in the spring but when it gets hot, I get lazy. Therefore, I try to do as much work as I am able in the spring to sit back and enjoy the garden through the summer.

In the mail this week, I received the drip irrigation system for my raised beds. Over the past 7-8 years I have been using a 1/2"/ 13mm soaker hose cut to the needed length and joined together with regular garden hose using plastic fittings. However, last year the 1/2"/ 13mm fittings I need were no longer available on the market. Neither in the brick and mortar stores or on the internet. All the available fittings were 5/8"/ 16mm. My old system was not repairable, it was finished, kaput, done. I needed to move on to a new system.

From Lowe's, I purchased a Mr. Landscaper Drip Irrigation Vegetable Garden Kit. This is not a item my local Lowe's stocks. I had to make the purchase online at Over a period of two weeks I experienced problems completing the purchase. Lowe's system just wouldn't complete the sale. I had to call their customer service number listed on the website. To make a long story short, the kit was purchased in Texas and sent via UPS. Way to go Lowe's.

The above tubing included in the kit is 1/4"/6mm inside diameter with one 1/2gal/1.9L per hour/ emitter spaced every 12"/30cm along the hose. This works perfectly with the square foot garden method I am using for these raised beds. How does it work perfectly, you ask? Let me explain.

Each raised bed in divided into 16 equal 1'/ 30cm squares.

Four 4' lengths of emitter tubing, each with four emitters spaced 12" apart are placed on the bed 12" apart. Thereby having one emitter for each sq ft space. On average over the growing season, each sq ft space will need 1gal of water per week. By isolating the water supply to this drip system for two hours per week, the plants will obtain their needed gal/wk.

I started by installing the emitter tubing, opposite of the manufacturer's installation instructions. I cut the end of the tube 6"/15cm from the first emitter. Starting at one side of the raised bed this measurement placed all the emitters in the center of each delineated sq ft area.

Since I had the plastic mulch already atop the raised bed, I needed to thread the tubing under the plastic. To keep out any foreign matter from the hose, which might stop the water flow, I placed a plug into the leading end of the tube.
If you look closely you can see the leading end on the left side of the photograph as I feed the tube under the plastic. If the end wasn't plugged there would undoubtable be some foreign matter in the tube.

Above you can see the tubing exiting at the next plant. Continue feeding the tubing through until you reach the other side of the bed.

I was able to uncover the surface of the bed to place this row of tubing rather than fishing it under the plastic. Much easier doing it that way.

The next step was to pierce the 1/2"/13mm supply tube. 

Insert a connector and push the end of the emitter tubing onto the connector. Do the same for all four of the emitter tubings.

You will notice in the above photograph, the supply tubing tends to keep its curved shape from all the time it spent coiled in the packaging. That needed to be addressed, next.

I found the above items in my garage. Plastic pipe strapping, hex washer headed sheet metal screws and a magnetic socket to drive the screws. I had both phillips headed and these hex headed screws. I chose the hex screws because I knew the screws would rust outdoors even thought they were coated. The hex headed screws would be easier to remove once the rust got to the screws.

I cut the strap so there were three holes to each length. I chose the length after conforming the strap over the black supply line. 

I placed one strap/clamp on each end of the raised bed frame which left some curve in the supply line near the center of the frame.

To take out that hump in the supply line I added another strap/clamp.

Some supply line needs to extent past the raised bed frame to use the double over clamp you see on the red plastic to the left of the pepper plant above. I am leaving the end of the supply line open until it is connected to the water supply. Just before installing the double over clamp on the end of the line water needs to be flushed through the tube to get out any foreign matter that might clog the tube.

Everything fit perfectly and I have more emitter tubing to extend the drip system to other parts of my garden. With the drip system, the plastic mulch and the raised beds, I am almost ready to a lazy season of vegetable gardening.