Facets of a Muse

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YAG (Yet another garden), 2021 version #amgardening #mn #mngardening

11 Comments

As promised, I got my garden planted last weekend. Thank goodness there were no mosquitoes, decent temps, and not much wind. This year I thought I would share the play-by-play with you.

tilled garden, bare ground

First step: Till the garden. We have an old Ford utility tractor (4400 for you tractor geeks out there) with a tiller implement, which is a VAST improvement over the walk-behind, front-tine tiller I used the first few years we lived out here. We left the fences up again this year, but I think at the end of the season we’ll take them down and till it all. The creeping charlie is hiding between the fence and the chicken wire and invading my garden.

Stakes spaced using a tape measure.

Next, and I know this is going to sound somewhat, erm, weird, but I use a tape measure to space the rows. I try to keep the rows 4 ft apart, and at least that far from the fence. The tomatoes are on the north side this year, so I left an extra couple feet between the fence and the tomato row.

Once I get the stakes spaced out on both ends of the garden, I lay out the soaker hoses and put up the tomato fences. The past few years I’ve used hog panels to support the tomatoes. Last year I added cattle panels.

When we bought the place, it came with a lot of leftovers from the neighbors (whom we bought the property from), including hog panels, which are heavy-duty wire. The cattle panels are hella heavy cuz they are steel tubing. In the picture at the very top you can see the cattle panel, and you might be able to see the hog panel grid behind it.

Hog panel and cattle panels set up for cucumbers and tomatoes

Here you can see a hog panel. This is what I’m using to support the cucumbers this year. I used a hog panel last year, and that worked pretty well. At the other end you can see the cattle panels where I’ll plant the tomatoes.

And no, I did not plant pickling cucumbers this year, as promised. I went into the basement to get a jar of pickles, and stopped counting how many quarts I put up last year. Yep, not going to miss it this year.

soaker hoses laid out between the stakes on each row.

Next, I lay out the soaker hoses. The rows this year are about 44 feet long. Our hoses are either 75′ or 50′ long, so in the past, I’ve connected the 75′ hoses together and wove them up and down three rows. That didn’t work this year; I think I have a 50′ one I connected to the 75′ one, so that ended up covering three rows. I caved and used a 50′ one for each of the last two rows, so I have five rows total. Yeah, I didn’t realize how much room that was either until I started figuring out what to plant where.

Wow. Writing it out like that makes it seem a whole lot bigger than I thought. Sheesh. Someday I’ll learn how to plant a smaller garden. Maybe.

soaker hoses now covered with cut grass as mulch

Okay, this is the key. Mulch. Lots and lots of mulch. Underneath the grass is fabric mulch. So, on top of the hoses I lay down black fabric mulch. On top of the fabric I pile on cut grass. Which I mowed with the tractor (our other utility tractor is a Farmall 460 utility, for those tractor geeks) and the bush hog, which is a 5′ mower deck pulled behind the tractor and run off the tractor PTO.

So, I mowed a vast area of quackgrass and saw grass, then raked and collected the grass. By hand. It probably takes just as long to rake by hand as it does using the lawn tractor to collect it, when you figure stopping to empty the collection bins every fifteen minutes. And I use less gas. 🙂

rows--cucumbers and tomatoes, peppers in the next row.

I did get hubs to bring me some wood chips from the pile left a couple years ago by the power company guys when they cleared a part of our grove because the trees were within one storm of taking out the transformer on one of the poles. I used the wood chips to cover the last hose and had enough to line the fence on the south side. Take that, creeping charlie. (I’m sure it’ll laugh at me later when it breaches the chip pile.)

Once I get all the hoses covered, I can start planting. The peppers are closest on the right. You can see the tomatoes at the far end; I put old 1-gallon greenhouse pots with the bottoms cut off around the tomatoes to protect them until they get going. They seem to work better than the coffee cans we used when I was a kid. Not that you can get coffee cans much anymore.

row of tomatoes on either side of cattle panel

Here’s a better shot of the tomatoes. I have to remember not to start them so early; they were fine until a couple weeks ago when they started going a little wild in the house.

You can see the cattle panel here. It’s thin-walled steel, but most are from 16′ to 20′ long, and heavier than one person can manage. It takes two of us to move them. Except my husband moved the ones around his garden himself. He’s either trying to prove he can, or he’s tempting the back-injury gods.

Yeah. Note to self: Make sure young, strapping son comes home the weekend we put the gardens in.

garden planted

Finally, finished planting! I started onions in the house, because it’s cheaper than buying onion plants, and they don’t sell the variety in sets at the local greenhouse (for those who are curious, we like the Candy variety. Nice big onions!). However, hubs suggested I pick up some onion sets because the onions I started seemed sparse. So, I did.

Soooo, I now have three rows of onions. BTW, I count a row on either side of the hoses. Which means along one side of one row of mulch and along both sides of another row of mulch I planted onions. Hoo-boy. Good thing we cook with onions A LOT.

another angle of planted garden

And there you have it. I put the tomato cages around the peppers. The cages are worthless for tomatoes, but my peppers tend to fall over once they have fruit on them if I don’t support them somehow. The tomato cages work well for that.

Now to keep the weeds at bay. The more mulch, the merrier, so I try to collect the grass whenever we cut the areas south of the garden and over on the other side of the hog shed (that worn-looking building on the far side of the garden).

Now I can get back to … homework. Yeesh. I’m taking classes for a Technical Writing Certificate, so I’ve got one class this summer, and plan to take one class every semester until I manage all 24 required credits. It’s all online, which is nice, but still. Homework. My class lasts another two weeks, and the garden is in, so there is that.

I’ll get back to my revision. Eventually.

Happy Writing!

Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for over a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, four chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

11 thoughts on “YAG (Yet another garden), 2021 version #amgardening #mn #mngardening

  1. I’m so impressed with the work you’re doing to bring your garden to life, Julie! It’s going to be heavenly when it’s done. And those fresh herbs and vegetables make all the difference when it comes to cooking, don’t they? I hope you’ll share pictures as your garden takes shape.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Margot! And every year I think, “Damn, this seemed so much easier ten years ago.” The fresh vegetables are what keep me doing it every year. There is nothing like fresh garden tomatoes or green beans, or finding out you need an onion, so all you have to do is head out to the garden to get one instead of going into town.

      Don’t worry, I’ll share pictures of the weeds … erm, veggies as they grow. 😀

      Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! You have an awesome garden. I can’t wait to see the vegetables you will grow there.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your garden is always so impressive, Julie. What a lot of work, but worth it. We’ve started eating out of ours already, which is very early. It’s been a strange hot dry spring – not a slug in sight! Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, man. I’m kinda jealous you’re eating veggies from yours already. Bonus though with no slugs. Still, some rain would be nice. We’re a bit dry here, too, and crossing fingers we’ll get some rain this week.

      Have a great weekend, Diana!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You are incredible! Such dedication to that garden! So much work! I was given some new plants (flowering, not edible kind), and looked up how to care for them. Naturally, they’re all a little different, and keeping track seems like a lot of work. I’m just going to stick them in the ground, water them sporadically, and hope for the best! That’s my gardening speed. 😛

    P.S. Meow. Mwarwr. Mew! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! Yep, that’s about what I do: put the plants or seeds in the ground, water them, and hope for the best 😀 My mantra is: if I have to weed it, I better be able to eat it. Otherwise, why weed? Of course, by the end of July, I’m thinking that anyway as the weeds mount their major offensive.

      Zoey says “Hi!” (and something else I couldn’t translate, but sounds like “back atcha”)

      Have a great weekend, Betsy!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Love your rhyming mantra! Although, having chickens again that eat like crazy(!!) I’m happy to have weeds to feed them.

        You’re learning cat also! Well done! Put that in your next book jacket bio. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow! That is gardening big way. Sounds almost like a small holding. I bet everything will grow with joy
    in such a perfect home. I also gardened this weekend but it is more like flowering roses, bushes and many other flowering plants. Except Ferns, I have a weakness for them.

    You go, Julie.

    Miriam

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, ferns are so pretty! Every year I tell myself I’m going to make a smaller garden. And every year somehow it doesn’t seem to get any smaller. At least it isn’t getting any larger!

      Have a wonderful weekend, Miriam!

      Like

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