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Posts Tagged ‘vegetable gardening’

I mentioned in my last post (about the chard stalks) that I have worked to shade parts of the vegetable garden this summer.  Creating shade for the garden has been on that endless list of mine for the past 2-3 years.

Not only are our South Texas summers hot, but I have full open exposure to the garden to the west, so everything is in the garden roasting until the sun goes down and that is really hard on the plants. There is a magnolia tree that is growing on the west side of the garden. It was planted before we moved in, and it is growing well, but it will be many, many years before it is tall enough to provide any afternoon shade for the garden.

Over the past few years I have cooked up a lot of idea for creating shade in the garden. A few years ago, I had lambsquarter growing on the west side of each raised bed to provide shade. While that helped, it just wasn’t enough.  We had a friend that lived with us a few years ago, and I was thinking that he could weld up a frame for over the top of the garden and then I could put shade cloth over the frame. I think that one would have worked, but he doesn’t live here anymore….

Shade Cloth with rebar

Shade Cloth with rebar

This year I though of two ideas. One was to create a “wall” of shade cloth on the west side of each raised bed. That would create shade from the west sun, and also some of the morning sun, limiting the amount of direct, hot sun the plants would get throughout the day. The other idea I had was to purchase a 10′ x 20′ car canopy and put it up inside the garden fence. I really thought both ideas would work. Both of my gardening neighbors sort of laughed and chuckled when I told them about the shade cloth “wall.” They didn’t seem to have a lot of faith in them. I did, so I went out and bought the supplies and moved forward.

Car Canopy shade

Car Canopy shade

The shade cloth “walls” I could mostly do on my own, but the car canopy I needed help to put up. One neighbor helped me by cutting the rebar to the length that I wanted, and my husband helped me put of the car canopy.

Shade cloth walls Pros:

  • With the shade cloth wall, the plants are exposed to some direct sun throughout the day.
  • When it rains, the plants benefit from the rain.
  • I can leave the rebar in place and just take the shade cloth off for the winter.
  • I could set it all up on my own (other then the neighbor that helped me cut the rebar – We did have the tools for that, so technically I could have done that too)

Shade cloth walls Cons:

  • I was able to tie one of the rebar posts to the garden fence on one side – without that, the structure would be more wobbly, and I would have had to add one more vertical rebar support post in the center (not a big deal, just another post for each box)
  • Having the wall of shade cloth on one full side of the raised bed, you are limited to harvesting from the other side. My beds are 3′ wide, so this hasn’t really been a con for me.

Car Canopy Pros:

  • No obstacles for picking and harvesting – completely open under the canopy

Car Canopy Cons:

  • Prevents the rain from getting to the plants
  • The canopy will disintegrate over time (maybe one summer season here) and the cost of a new canopy is around $100 (I think I could find one for less that might not fit exactly, but would work) My plan it to replace it with some other shade cloth that would allow the rain to come through but still provide shade.

There are definite pros and cons to both of these ideas. They both work and that is the good thing. With both systems, over time, I will need to replace the cloth/cover. I think ultimately the best thing would be a frame build over the top of the garden where I could over the entire area with a shade cloth of some sort that would provide great shade in the summer, yet still allow the rain to come through, and then remove the cloth in the winter for more full sun.

The garden fence is not high enough to just add a flat cover  over it – I could never stand up.

So for this year, I am thrilled to have some shade in the garden that is working.

If you need to, how do you shade your vegetable garden from the harsh sun?

Sincerely, Emily

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It’s a busy time. There seems to be a lot going on and I don’t seem to be catching up on certain things, yet I am getting other things done. So anytime I can make a quick meal, it really helps.

Celery Leaf

Celery Leaf

Spinach growing season is over here and my spinach has bolted and I am patiently waiting for seeds to I can harvest them and then get the next phase planted out there. I picked on last large batch of spinach and had plans to saute it and freeze it for meals later, but meal plans can change rather quickly around here. I also had some local chicken and carrots in the refrigerator that needed to get used up. Chicken salad came to mind, but I haven’t managed to make any bread in a few weeks.

Chicken salad

Chicken salad

As I gazed into the refrigerator I decided that the spinach would get used to make chicken salad wraps. Brilliant!

Add spinach

Add spinach

I ran out back and pulled up a bunching onion and also snipped several stalks of celery leaf. Chicken salad coming up!

Lunch!

Lunch!

The meal was quick, easy, and healthy. In fact, I am running in several directions right now and I had a repeat of this meal for dinner too! Yum x 2!

What do you do to throw together a quick lunch?

Sincerely, Emily

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Lammas, or August 1, is the first of the harvest festivals. You’re probably picking more than you can eat all at once starting now.

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For me (Alexandra), Lammas marks the moment when the gardener is forcibly reminded that she is not actually in control. Plants go wild, as if they know (and I suppose they do), that summer is coming to an end, and they better get all their growing done!

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When ever I (Sincerely, Emily) visit my parents up in Minnesota this time of year, I am always amazed at the lush, full, green garden. In our area we are starting to plan our fall planting. I cut back my tomato plants a few weeks ago and they are growing, but I don’t seem to be harvesting much or anything. The Armenian cucumbers are still growing well and the okra is starting to produce. Just patiently waiting for some cooler temps so the pepper plants will start flowering again.

Star of David okra

Star of David okra

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What are you harvesting?

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Last week we gave you a glimpse into what is growing in our gardens. This week we will focus on what we are cooking.

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In the summer time I (Sincerely, Emily) prefer not to turn on the stove or oven if I can avoid it. There are so many different salads that can be made using many fresh garden veggies and herbs that are growing. Last Sunday I shared a photo of the Armenian cucumbers we are harvesting. They go great in the bulgar tabouli that I make.

bulgar tabouliI will follow up later in the week with a complete recipe!

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Of course, they were so delicious, that I (Alexandra) ate them before I remembered to photograph them, but I’ve had a string of meals that are all garden– roasted turnips with garlic and shallots, and today a poblano pepper, lined with a beaver dam pepper and stuffed with fried tofu, peppers, pine nuts and garlic, mixed with golden tomato sauce and rice. Topped with fresh mozarella from the farmers market. Delicious. Can’t prove it though. All I have to show is the harvest.

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What have you been cooking with things from your garden?

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This past Sunday a few of us shared some photos of things that are growing in our gardens. In my garden a few things are winding down and a few other things are hanging on.

Spineless okra. I am saving the larger one for seeds.

Spineless okra. I am saving the larger one for seeds.

It too hot for things like tomatoes to flower in my garden, so I have cut a few of them back to give them a rest and re-sprout in hopes of a fall harvest from them.  The pepper plants flower here and there and if I can keep them watered they will really take off in a few months and I will have lots of great peppers to eat and preserve.

I had pickling cucumbers planted at my neighbors, but they had a hard time this year so they have been pulled up. His Armenian cucumbers are still happy, and growing and producing a lot.

I planted purple tomatillos for the first time this year. They are growing and are putting on flowers. I am just seeing the little tomatillos starting to develop. That is very exciting.

purple tomatillo flowering

purple tomatillo flowering

I planted a spineless okra this year. It seems to be growing slow and is very short compared to the Star of David I have grown in the past. It is starting to slowly produce and as it flowers I am enjoying the blooms. The fire ants have been enjoying the booms too! grrr. I have hopes of pickling the okra, but for now there isn’t enough so we are adding it to stir fry’s or slicing and collecting it in the freezer for later.

Monday and Tuesday we had some beautiful rain come down. My rain barrels are overflowing and the plants and trees are just smiling out there right now.

I am very excited to watch the tomatillos grow.

Did you plant something new in your garden this season?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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For those of you that are used to doing your own things (working the garden, around the house, around the yard, trimming your own trees, hauling your own dirt) you completely understand me when I tell you how frustrating the last 7 weeks have been for me. My mind, for the most part, is working normal (ok, normal for me), but my body is under strict limitations. My limitations have not been lifted yet, but I have been given the go ahead to walk a bit. I can’t get too excited and head off on a mile long, flat road walk, I am able to just bump up my walking a bit.  I am still under strict limitation to only carry 10 lbs. Mind you, I can’t lean over to pick a 10 lb object up or lean over to put a 10 lb object in the oven.

The time has passed when I normally would have started my vegetable seeds. It is time, if I had started them, to get them up into gallon pots and start setting them outside weeks ago to start hardening them. Instead, I headed out to a few local nurseries and bought my veggies this year (and someone carried them to by truck for me.) I also picked up the peppers and tomatoes that my neighbor grows at the same time.

potting plants

I am unable to even pot up those purchased vegetable plants into gallon pots… so, I get by with a little help from my friends. I took all the plants over to my neighbors and they did all the work and got them potted up into gallons pots. Not only did they do all the work, but they kept my plants to oversee them and move them in and out to harden them off and make sure they get a nice dose of sun and wind.

One of the plants I hadn’t found was Anaheim peppers, so we were both keeping our eye out for them. I found them just the other day and delivered the plants next door for more potting.

I wasn’t real sure how I was ever going to have a garden this spring if I can’t start seeds or even plant the actual plants. I am grateful for my neighbors friendship and I am grateful for their help getting my plants ready right along with theirs. This puts a little bit of happiness in my day.

Next step will be actually getting the plants into the garden. It is very frustrating for me not to do my own things. Frustrating having to ask for help. Frustrating to rely on others. I find that I have to take many deep breathes throughout the day, write something down on a list so when someone comes along I can ask them to do it. As I heal and recover I have to rebuild basic strength and energy. I have to be patient and build up stamina. Dang I get tired easy! But what I look forward to the most is doing things myself again.

Until then, I get by with a little help from my friends!

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

 

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Well here we are again, teetering at the edge of a brand new year.  The possibilities are endless, the potential profound…

The resolutions annoying!

I don’t know about you but I make grand and sweeping resolutions each year.  I’ve had elaborate  plans in the past that were to make my home and garden a sanctuary, a haven, a shining example of beauty and orderliness.

Then reality up and bites me and I am back to the exact same place I was on December 31st.

I still have the same amount of kids (sometimes more from the previous year), there are still piles of laundry that won’t do themselves (darn them)  The self-cleaning kitchen of the future has yet to be invented and… the camel still eats the roses!

So this year I am trying something new…

Instead of making resolutions I am forming a plan.  A concrete plan with steps to implement and a specific goal in mind for both my house and my garden.

For my garden instead of saying I will grow enough vegetables so that I will never have to buy any at the grocery store again (yes that was an actual resolution) I am going to put in a strawberry bed.  I have a spot, I have a plan of how I want to build it, it is a very specific and attainable goal.

I have a short list of projects that are reasonable and do-able over the year.  I no longer have grand visions of garden clubs wanting to tour my garden because it is the most neat, orderly and beautiful they have ever seen…no I just want a bigger strawberry bed.

For my home it is not about adding onto or decorating it with scrumptious fabrics and deep paint colors…it is simply about de-cluttering.  Over the course of the year I plan to go room by room and sell/give away/get rid of that which we don’t use.   I’m not going to make the resolution that I will keep my  house clean from now on…hahaha….I have 5 kids that is never going to happen, yet that has been a past resolution…one that crashed in about mid January!

But getting rid of most of the clutter…that is attainable.  Especially if I get rid of the clutter when no one is looking!

I  need to find a way to make it easier and simpler to keep the house clean.  Not by cleaning more, but by having less to clean…

The same applies to the garden.  I don’t need to build gazebos to sit and drink tea under…but I do need make a few changes that will keep my garden from taking over ever spare moment of my time.  I need to work more efficiently…not more.

So no big resolutions this year for me except this one…

I will simplify my life

And I have a plan to do it…

So what about you and the new year…any plans/resolutions/ideas that you want to share with us?

Kim can also be found at the inadvertent farmer where she raises organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids, and…a camel!

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