Garden stuff update, and shortened term plans

With this being our first attempt to do any gardening since we’ve moved back to my family farm, we are learning quite a lot.

One of those things is, there are a lot more rocks in the old garden than I remember as a kid!

I had broken up some of the hillier parts that were making mowing more “damaging” than “difficult”, and the girls had a chance to go at some of those spots with hoes, to break them up and flatten them out. They were only able to do a few before the heat drove them inside.

Even so, they managed to also collect these.

When I was a kid, picking rocks out of the garden was a regular and constant thing we did. It kept things manageable. I don’t know how many years ago that particular chore stopped. I know my parents would not have been able to keep it up, and my siblings that were able to go to the farm more often certainly would not have had time to pick rocks, when there were far more urgent things for them to take care of, while they were there.

We are definitely seeing the difference. It’s one of several reasons why I want to go with raised garden beds. Being on the bed of a ancient glacial lake means there will always, always be rocks working their way up the soil with every frost and thaw. It’s also why we are working on using mulch and layers of material to build up the soil. In the old garden area, mulching where we have the squash beds now is the only reason the area is at all manageable.

The squash seem to like it! Here is another type that has started to bloom. Since the other ones turned out to be sunburst squash, that means this is one of the summer surprise variety pack of zucchini. Not a variety I’ve seen grown before; we grew different types of squash when I was a kid, but never one with these mottled leaves. It should be interesting to see what they are!

The cucamelons are now trellised. I did it in stages, adding the bamboo stakes that wouldn’t be needed in one of the squash beds into the openings on the sides of the chimney blocks, then coming back to add the horizontal lines. Finally, I added a vertical line at each of the cucamelons. I didn’t bother for two of the blocks, as it looks like the cucamelons in them are not going to make it. They’re not dead, but they’re not really growing, either.

Once the vertical lines were in place, I placed tendrils around them, to start training the cucamelons to grow upwards. On one side, I added a line up to an overhanging tree branch to keep the whole thing from sagging from the weight. If necessary, the same can be done on the other side.

This is not where we originally planned to grow the cucamelons. I don’t think they can get as much sun as they need in this location, but we couldn’t delay transplanting them anymore. If we grow these again in the future, we will have to be sure to have a sunnier location ready for them.

I am continuing to build up the old flower garden here, and have been adding layers of straw, leaves and grass clippings mostly at the lower end, closer to the retaining wall. Where the soil has been added is where we transplanted the few fennel that came up, and a couple of those have since died. So we have a whole 3 fennel still growing in there! πŸ˜€

For all the layers and additions of mulch, things are still working their way through. The rhubarb and some of the flowers, we are good with. Those horrible invasive vines keep coming up, and there’s a type of flower my mother suddenly decided she didn’t want me to get rid of (after I’d already gotten the okay from her and started the layering) that wants to take over the whole area.

What I had hoped for this garden is to use it as a kitchen garden, to grow things like herbs and the like, as well as some flowers. Maybe some lettuces. My mother keeps going on about how she’d planted onions here, and keeps asking me how her onions are doing, then complaining that I killed them all by mulching the area. :-/ The only place I ever saw onions coming up was along one edge, where I’d taken some fencing and car tire planters out, so I’m not sure what she’s taking about. One has actually come up again, this year, but there was never more than a couple, since we’ve lived here. From the state of the rest of the garden, there was no way she had more than those growing, even going back in my memory to what was there when I was a kid. She only ever had onions growing along that south side, but when she talks about it, she makes it sound like most of the garden was onions and garlic.

The ornamental apple trees had been planted to provide shade, I’ve been told. Then there’s the double lilac, the honeysuckle and the roses. One of the roses finally bloomed this year, but being under one of the apple trees the way it is, it’s really struggling. The Cherokee rose, on the other hand, is spreading like a weed.

Those apple trees are going to cause problems for anything we try to grow there.

I suppose they wouldn’t bother me as much, if they were at least an edible apple. How ironic that the pretty much only apple trees we’ve got that don’t show signs of fungal disease, are the ones that we can’t eat from!

The girls and I have been talking about what we’ll do next, when it comes to growing and planting. They really want to start planting flowers. We’re also talking about finding a way to get the nut orchard collection I’d found, earlier rather than later. Trees take so long to grow, that it would be worthwhile for us to start that as soon as possible. The package deal I’d found is for 100 trees, and we were planning to use the old garden area, including the spaces that have always been a mowed border, for that. The package is over a thousand dollars – and that’s with the bulk discount! With that in mind, they will be working to come up with funds to contribute, so we can get it earlier. Maybe even as early as next spring!

Some other things, however, will be ordered for planting this fall.

One of the things we’ve decided to do is use the bed currently filled with the beets and carrots for garlic, after everything in it now has been harvested. We’ll be ordering a collection of 1 pound each of 3 different types.

Aside from the garlic, we will be ordering lots and lots of flowering bulbs.

As much as I enjoy mowing, there are some areas in between the trees that I would rather not be mowing at all! In fact, if we can not mow in between any of the trees, that would be great. It’s really bad for the mower in there!

So I took a bunch of pictures of different areas, then we went through them to discuss what we would be planting and where. The plan is to fill some areas with naturalizing flowers, and other areas will be kept open as paths, with some sort of ground cover that can be walked on, instead of grass.

Next month, along with the garlic, we will order muscari (aka grape hyacinth), a collection of snow crocuses, a double tulip collection, and various other flowers. The muscari and snow crocuses will be mixed together and basically scattered in select areas where we want low growing plants. The taller flowers, the girls will decide on the exact places. Other areas we want to have low growing plants will have things like creeping phlox in them, or hostas in the shadier areas, and even ferns, eventually, but the areas we want to walk on will have things like different kinds of thyme, while others will have mosses. There are some areas we need to keep flower free, so that my husband, who is allergic to stings, can go into them and not worry about bees.

For our zone, once we order our selections next month, we should expect them to be delivered around the end of September.

I bought an auger attachment for my drill with plans to use it when we did the sunflowers. I decided against using it, because of how rocky the old garden area is. It’s actually sold as a tool for planting bulbs. The muscari alone will be 200 bulbs (we’re getting 2 packages), so that thing is going to get a workout this fall! πŸ™‚

At least, that’s what our plans are. I’ve long since learned that no plans are written in stone, so we shall see what we actually get to do when the time comes! πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer

4 thoughts on “Garden stuff update, and shortened term plans

    • Normally, yes, but the areas they will be planted in cannot be prepped or loosened in any normal way. We’ll see when the time comes, but it may still be the easiest and fasted way. Otherwise, we’ll be doing it all by hand, and even with 3 of us, that’ll take forever! πŸ˜€

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