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Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Flowering Persian Shield from Cuttings

Persian Shield from Cuttings 1-2010-4I really didn’t expect to get flowers from the cuttings of Persian Shield I made in the fall. It’s been an added bonus but I was only trying to keep the cuttings alive long enough to plant them in the ground this spring. I’ve kept them in jars of water so far even though I should have long ago planted them into pots. Still they seem to be doing fine without soil as long as water is kept in the container.

Persian Shield from Cuttings 1-2010-1I didn’t use any rooting hormone when taking these Persian Shield cuttings. I treated them a lot like I do coleus, a couple nodes under water and a couple leaves on top is all that was needed.

You can see the root system pretty good in this photo. That’s one advantage when taking cuttings in water – you can see the roots as they form.

   Persian Shield from Cuttings 1-2010-3

A few overwintered flowers here and there are more than welcome to help overwinter ourselves!

Persian Shield from Cuttings 1-2010-2

For more on Plant Propagation.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Encased in Ice (Tennessee Snow Storm of 2010)

They were right! There, let it be said that the weather predictors and prognosticators said we were going to have snow and we did. Unfortunately the manner of snow and the amount of snow differed from what the forecast originally said (which was 2-3 inches at one point). Currently we have between 4-6 inches of snow with a nice smooth layer of ice on top just to make things interesting! The ice isn’t good for getting around town and we’ve been stuck at home (nothing new since we are boring people and don’t do much anyway) watching the snow fall. What the ice is good for though is pretty cool (sorry for the pun). Sledding was the main attraction of the day with our slope in the backyard becoming a valuable asset. Several neighbors joined us outside on the hill at various times to ride down my version of the Olympic bobsled! (or was it the luge? I always get those mixed up.)

Snowy Backyard Slope 1-2010-1

The other really cool thing that ice is great for is photography. I caught some really nice ice pictures today particularly of the ornamental grasses. I found it amazing how the ice built up on the stems of the branches and trees and in some cases completely encasing them. It was almost like the world was made of glass.

Yoshino Cherry

Yoshino Cherry Tree Encased in Ice 1-2010-1

Red Maple 

Red maple buds encased in ice 1-2010-1


Sassafras encased in ice 1-2010-1

The ice also covered our structures and made interesting shapes as icicles were created on...

The Birdbath

Copper Birdbath encased in Ice 1-2010-1

The Arbor 

Arbor covered in Ice 1-2010-1

and a Birdfeeder 

Birdfeeder encased in ice 1-2010-1

By far the most interesting shapes created by the ice were on the ornamental grasses.

The  ‘Shenandoah’ Panicum virgatum could be seen as an ice sculpture from far away.

Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah' Switchgrass encased in ice 1-2010-1

I found the Mexican Feather Grass or Nassella tenuissima very interesting!
 Mexican Feather Grass Encased in Ice (Stipa - Nassella tenuissima) 1-2010-1

But by far the coolest picture of the day has to the the Muhlenbergia capillaris or Muhly Grass. The little beads of ice resemble beads of glass.

Muhlenbergia capillaris encased in ice (Pink Muhly Grass) 1-2010-1

The cold temperatures will be with us until Monday but no more accumulation is expected. That’s probably a good thing – I think we have enough!

Friday, January 29, 2010

My State of the Garden Address - Part 2

Yesterday I showed you part one of the state of the garden which contained mostly the front yard and side yard, today we go into the backyard to visit the gardens.

The Vegetable Garden

Vegetable Garden in Winter 1-2010-1Vegetable Garden in Winter 1-2010-2Let’s start by looking at the department of agriculture. The vegetable garden isn’t being very productive right now even though it could be. Hoop houses constructed over the beds would have been an asset this year if I had ever gotten around to building them. As it stands the only plants still alive in the garden are the cilantro, the strawberries, and of course - the weeds. There’s a weed for every season isn’t there? A major cleanup is needed but I’ll do that right before I begin planting, possibly in conjunction with my new raised beds I’m planning on building. It won’t be long until it’s time for sugar snap peas and spinach.

The Birdbath Garden

Here is the backyard birdbath garden. It doesn’t seem like much now but the mounds of dead branches and foliage once contained bright flowers like coreopsis, verbena, and salvias. The bush on the left is the butterfly bush while the one on the right is a ninebark. I surrounded the ninebark with two ‘Powis Castle’ artemisias both made from cuttings.

Birdbath Garden 1-2010-1

Here is one artemisia now, just trying to maintain its silver foliage throughout the winter. It looks a little worse for wear but once warmer weather returns it will once again be big, bright and beautiful!

'Powis Castle' Artemisia in January 1-2010-2
My ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint isn’t looking too happy right now. Really, not much is! Once things begin to warm up I’ll cut back the dead foliage and the plant will be good as new – and maybe better! I like to leave the foliage on through the winter to help shield the crown of the plant from cold weather. It’s just a little extra insulation to keep it safe and sound. I rarely trim anything back in the fall.

'Walker's Low' Catmint in January 1-2010-1

And here is my wayward ‘Purple Homestead’ Verbena. I’ve found that it detests wet winters. A shady spot where it’s wet in the winter is doom to this drought tolerant sun lover. This verbena was a cutting from another one I have on the north side of our house. This one is in full sun on a slightly mounded bed which was ideal for it to prosper last summer. It overtook my ‘Jethro Tull’  coreopsis fast and kept going. Verbena seems to walk by rooting along the stem in various places and dies back over the winter from where it started.

'Purple Homestead' Verbena in January 1-2010-1

Can you guess where our next destination might be?

Shed Greenhouse from Across the Winter Landscape 1-2010-1

The Greenhouse Gardens

If you guessed the back gardens and the greenhouse you got it right. In front of the greenhouse area are two garden beds haphazardly created last fall with grass clippings and leaves. Grass clippings make a great mulch/compost layer and break down very fast. The leaves were gathered up in the fall with the push lawnmower and it's bagging attachment. I know that mowers are not the most eco friendly tool to use (especially when you catch them on fire) but it’s still a necessity in our yard - there are only so many gardens I can put together each year.  I would love to try out one of the battery powered mowers one day but right now they seem a little on the pricey side, but enough about the economy!

This bed is the left hand bed. Since you really can’t see much of anything other than leaves so let me tell you what is here. You’ll have to trust me now and you can see it later! (Did I just sound like a politician or what?)  A small maple tree that needs moved is on the right and a ‘Shenandoah’ switchgrass is on the left. The switchgrass was a gift from my parents last year – is it odd that I like getting grass for my birthday? The little pot is a temporary protection measure I put around a crape myrtle to prevent rabbits from finding the small plant. It came from cuttings I made in the spring. On the far end of the bed are several small forsythias that I planted in the fall.  They will border our yard and this garden. Also in this bed is another artemisia, a salvia, a bunch of seeds that I hope will sprout for 2010.

Back Greenhouse Garden 1-2010-1

This garden is on the right side in front of the greenhouse. The mound in the back needs leveled once the greenhouse work is mostly completed. Another switchgrass is on the right and together the two grass clumps flank a wide grass pathway between the gardens. Another crape myrtle is hiding behind its plastic palace of protection while Russian sage and artemisia help to fill in this garden. There’s yet another small maple that needs a new home as it stands right in front of the greenhouse front door. I’ll find it a new home in the next couple weeks.

Back Greenhouse Garden 1-2010-2

Lastly you can catch a glimpse of the front of the greenhouse. Siding is on its way up and a new special feature is in the works for the front – hopefully soon! It depends on the weather of course (as I’m writing snow is still falling - in excess of four inches).  To see more of the greenhouse including the other views visit my post on putting siding on the greenhouse!

Greenhouse Shed Unfinished in Winter 1-2010-1

I hope you enjoyed the state of my garden! Please keep in mind it’s still January and I’ll be in a better state of mind in Spring!

We Have Snow!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My State of the Garden Address

Our president gave us his State of the Union address for 2010 this week and informed us of his plans and his thoughts so I thought why not do the same for my garden? It’s been a while since I’ve addressed the garden as a whole entity as usually I just discuss its parts or its plants. Let me start off by saying it’s not necessarily a pretty picture. It is winter after all!

As I walked around the gardens today I had an opportunity to view what has been accomplished and what has yet to be done. The front garden hasn’t undergone many changes over the last year but it is due for some redeveloping. The Russian sage on the left of the sidewalk has grown large and it is time for it to be tamed or moved. It’s wispy and bare now but its white stems make an attractive winter feature and would look especially nice in front of an evergreen backdrop. I clip it back each spring but it likes to grow, and grow, and grow - I really can’t blame it! I have some options on a new location but then I’ll have to figure out what to put in its place…

Front Sidewalk Garden in January  1-2010-1

I walked around the other side of the house to the self-sowing/self-seeding garden. It's inaugural year was very progressive and was full of blooms. Rudbeckia, sunflower, salvia, zinnias and several other plants filled up the seats in this garden.

Self-Seeding Garden in Winter 1-2010-1

And I couldn’t fully evaluate the state of the garden without the arbor. (Arbor and The House) I still enjoy looking at it. I feel like I won the BHG.com prize even though I lost out to a front porch repainting (it was pretty, definitely not our style though!). I saw in the recent Tennessee Gardener magazine and article about roses that had pictures of roses climbing all over gates – it’s a very tempting idea for this arbor don’t you think?

Pathway Entry Arbor in Winter 1-2010-1

Past the arbor you will find one of my favorite gardens – during the growing season that is! The corner shade garden is filled with heucheras, hostas, astilbe, and an oak leaf hydrangea. The large evergreen tree on the left will be leaving very soon for multiple reasons: it’s too big to be this close to the house and it’s covered with bagworms. I could spray the worms (at the right time, when the larvae are still young) and probably get rid of them or handpick the ones I can reach but when you have more than one issue with a plant it might be time to go a different route. I tried the handpicked route once before and I couldn’t find all the bagworms. I have two ideas for its replacement either a dogwood (Cornus florida although I wouldn’t mind a Cornelian Cherry Cornus mas) or a Forest Pansy Redbud. If I go the latter route I’ll move the one I have to its new location.

Corner Shade Garden in Winter 1-2010-1

The border garden looks mostly bare but the ornamental grasses do liven things up. The birch I planted in spring did fantastic this year and is already beginning to show its characteristic peeling bark. I can’t wait to take a similar photo of this area in the spring, summer, and fall so that I can see the seasonal changes. 

Border Garden in Winter 1-2010-1

This little rose campion is sporting some nice silver green foliage in the rain garden. There are quite a few other plants with foliage showing like the irises, daffodils, hyacinths, and several others. It’s still January but if you look you can see spring coming.

 Rose Campion in Winter 1-2010-1

I took too many pictures for a single post so come back for Part 2 of my State of The Garden Address! This post was mostly the front and side yard gardens the next one will include the back yard gardens and probably a picture or two of the greenhouse (look here for an update on the greenhouse).

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Enjoy a Cup of Coffee?

Styrofoam Coffee Cups for Seed Planting 1-2010-1I certainly enjoy my coffee every morning (in fact you don’t want me not to!) but that’s not even close to what is inside these two cups. Can you guess to what purpose I’m reusing these two former fast food containers for? It’s not a hard guess and I suspect you already know exactly what I’m doing with them.

Rather than throw them a way why not use them for…

Starting Seeds! Of course!
   Styrofoam Coffee Cups for Seed Planting 1-2010-2

Styrofoam Coffee Cups for Seed Planting Dianthus 1-2010-1
Last week I put some seed starting mix inside these two vessels and sprinkled some dianthus seeds I’ve saved. They are supposed to be ‘Firewitch’ but as I found them through a seed exchange the true identity may be something else entirely or some cross-pollinated dianthus. Whatever the case I’ll really enjoy seeing these late spring bloomers come alive!

What was the most effective and most unusual seed starting container you have used?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

While at the Book Store...

...I noticed something odd on the shelves and it was a little disconcerting to see. I went to the big chain bookstore in Franklin to see what kind of garden books they were carrying with the intent on purchasing one with some leftover money I received for my birthday last July. I know it's been a long time since July but while there are things that I would like to have I just couldn't find anything really worth spending it on!

I perused the shelves with my two year old daughter while my oldest was spending the day with her grandmother. You know how two year olds are - constantly exploring, searching, playing, and handling everything their little hands can get a hold of.  She picked up books and I put them back, I told her no, I went back to looking, she went back to picking up books. This little scene played out many times but I noticed that the book that she kept picking out was a rather peculiar one in the gardening area. It was within easy hand reach of any little child which I suppose wouldn't be a big deal normally but this book was about growing something that is illegal pretty much everywhere in the United States. It was a book about growing marijuana! I knew those kinds of books existed, but to actually see it on a shelf in a book store was surprising. There wasn't only one either, there were easily 5-6 different books on the subject.

Now I realize that simply reading material about the plant does not make you a criminal. I also realize that some people claim that it should be legalized. I'm not writing to get into a debate on that subject but should the biggest bookstore in Williamson County carry something that could so easily fall into the hands of teenagers? It's illegal to grow here in Tennessee for any reason, why help people break the law by carrying books on subjects like this? Why carry books on growing illegal plants that tell you how to do it (and though I didn't not read any of the material I'm assuming that it tells you how to skirt the law) and not carry at least as many books on growing tomatoes and other vegetables? I'm not saying that the other books weren't there, in fact I saw a great number of large resource type books from the American Horticultural Society, The Garden Primer (Nancy Damarosch), and many other books that discussed gardening in general but books that hone in on a single vegetable or plant as subject material seemed very rare compared to the marijuana books.

Then again maybe it's just me but shouldn't books in the garden section be about plants we can actually legally grow? Maybe the marijuana books should be in the "How to" section instead...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rooting Viburnums from Hardwood Cuttings

Rooting ViburnumAround Thanksgiving I took 6 small 4 node cuttings from a single viburnum at my in-law’s house. I don’t know what variety the viburnum but that doesn’t bother me, I can find out when the leaves begin to grow and the flowers start to bloom (which admittedly might be awhile). For now though I’ll just be happy to add six more plants to the garden.

Rooting Viburnum from Hardwood Cuttings
Of the six viburnums I rooted five had nice roots starting to emerge from between the bottom two nodes. As you can see in the top picture the cuttings had four nodes that I stuck in sand with two nodes under the sand. The top two nodes and maybe the third node should develop branches and leaves.

Rooting Viburnum from Hardwood Cuttings
I used rooting hormone when I took the cuttings and only used sand for the medium. I kept the cuttings in a warm and humid environment (our bathroom, my wife just loves this hobby! ;) The joke around our house is that we truly have a “garden tub” in our bathroom.). The first viburnum cutting I noticed rooting had roots about 10-14 days ago but I only recently potted them into pots in soil. That puts the time on rooting viburnums to about 6-7 weeks. I put five of the cuttings in the garage greenhouse (just a set of shelves with a plastic covering). The sixth cutting was starting to emerge with leaves and I felt it best to keep indoors until warmer weather arrives.

After I potted these viburnums and put them in the garage I took the hardwood cuttings I mentioned yesterday. There’s always something you can do in the garden!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

You Don't Need Much Space to Propagate Plants

You don’t need much space to propagate plants. In fact you can propagate a bunch of plants in some very small spaces like in the containers in the picture. Together I have 5 different kinds of plants ready for rooting including red twig dogwood, rhododendron, azalea, Purple Leaf Plum Propagation, Japanese maple, and Yoshino cherry.

Plant Propagation in Containers 1-2010-1

To me it’s amazing that you can do so much with so little. All together there are 35 cuttings placed into these two small containers. I like to use containers that look nice in the house whenever I do cuttings but I have to admit more often I find myself using recycled/reused materials. Even in a small reused (washed of course) yogurt cup you can fit 5-8 cuttings. In the above picture I’ve mixed the cuttings in no particular way but it’s a good idea to try and keep cuttings separated from each other by type. You can pretty much bet that if your cuttings were taken on the same day and are of the same kind that they will root in a similar fashion – give or take a few days. Keeping the cuttings together by type enables you to minimize the disturbance of other cuttings when you check for rooting.

By The Numbers:

Azalea Cuttings: 2
Japanese Maple Cuttings: 3
Purple Leaf Plum Cuttings: 10
Red Twig Dogwood Cuttings: 12
Rhododendron Cuttings: 3
Yoshino Cherry Cuttings: 5

I’ve never managed to successfully root a Japanese maple so I thought I would give it a try. There was a branch that needed pruned off of one of our maples and after I clipped it I divided it into 3 4-6 node hardwood cuttings. Hopefully I’ll get at least one of them to root. Many people have good luck growing Japanese maples from seed and some from air layering.

I rooted a Yoshino cherry last year from hardwood cuttings but the new little tree didn’t make it much past rooting. I think I checked the roots too often – patience is not one of my best virtues but I’m working on it! It’s one of my favorite trees and I would love to get a few to root this year.

Have you tried any hardwood cuttings this winter? It’s not too late to get a few going!

Tomorrow I hope to show you the results of some hardwood viburnum cuttings!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Great Home Gardens: An Italian Garden

A few weeks ago an email came in my box asking me a question about propagating irises. I answered the question then received a picture of the questioning gardener’s garden. To say that I was impressed would be an understatement. Climbing roses mixed with many varieties of perennials create a living painting in Ennio’s backyard. And did I mention that it’s in Venice, Italy? Isn’t that the amazing thing about the world we live in today – we can visit any garden anywhere a camera has been without even leaving the room! But I have to say that being in the garden would be much better than just gawking at the pictures but today I’ll do the next best thing to being there, I’ll show you Ennio’s photos of his Italian garden and we can gawk together. He’s been gardening for 13 years and the photos you are about to see are of his 2 year old garden that was developed through transplants from his previous gardens.

Great Home Gardens from The Home Garden

Thank you Ennio for sharing your garden!

I hope to make virtual garden tours a regular part of The Home Garden.  When I have submissions I’ll post them on the weekends. If you have garden photos that you would like me to show in a similar format here at The Home Garden just email me the photos at thehomegarden@gmail.com along with some cool, interesting, or just plain nifty information about your garden! Keep in mind that by sending me the pictures you are giving me permission to host them here and say whatever I want about them – don’t worry, I’ll be nice!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wacky Winter Weather

Gray January Skies in Tennessee 1-2010-1You know the saying “If you don’t like the weather in {Insert your state here}, just wait a few minutes!” In the last two days, and possibly much of January, truer words could not be said about the weather here in Tennessee. Gray skies have been intermittent with occasional sun. The temperatures have been warm, rainy, and much more like March than January. Of course the first 10 days of January were nearly record cold temperatures which flirted with the 20s for highs and in the 10’s for lows.

Backyard flooding 1-2010-2The last two days have also been very rainy. Yesterday we received almost 2 inches of precipitation which caused some localized flooding – like in my backyard!  The stand of trees in the center of the picture is centered on our boundary. Which means that most of the flooding is actually in my neighbor’s yard but the stream on the right side of the trees is rushing through our back yard.  It’s causing an erosion issue in the back corner of the yard that I hope to deal with this summer.

In a break from the rain I tinkered in the greenhouse and changed a lock on the front door. When I first went out the weather was warm with no rain. While I was working a chorus of rain began with an accompaniment of thunder and lightning. I went hastily (that means I ran at a fast yet masculinely casual pace) inside to wait out the rain and fully expected it to last awhile.  Twenty minutes later the rain stopped, the sun peaked out, and azure blue skies emerged. My oldest daughter even said “Look daddy the pretty clouds are back.” That didn’t last though.

Hail on Back Deck 1-2010-1 The strange weather shifted tonight to hail and tornado warnings in our area. I’m not sure if there were any touchdowns or any damage but I can say that lightning, hail, power outages (albeit temporary), and television tornado warnings do make for a chaotic evening.

But here in Tennessee all I have to do is a wait a few minutes … right?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Seeds, A Report From a Collecting Addict

Today I sat down during a massive deluge of precipitation and came to a realization, I'm a seed collecting addict. It wasn't a conscious choice to collect all these seeds, it kind of just happened over time. I counted 53 varieties of vegetables and 16 varieties of herbs. I didn't even attempt to count the ornamental and flower seeds that I've collected! It seems I have seed from almost any common vegetable from Arugula to Zucchini.

I was shocked to find I had three different varieties of watermelons. 'Moon and Stars' was a great tasting heirloom watermelon but I also have two hybrid watermelon varieties I could try. Many of the other vegetable seeds are also hybrids (which are a result from cross pollination with two different parent varieties) but there are several heirlooms, particularly in the tomato department. One of my goals this year was to begin converting to heirloom seeds to help reduce my seed budget in the future by collecting seeds from the genetically stable heirloom plants. While I'll definitely acquire a few more heirloom seeds this year I will concentrate on using up what I already have. Seeds can remain viable for several years if kept cool and dry and I've had peppers and tomato seeds from 5 or more years ago germinate.

So what else is in the seed collection?

Heirloom tomatoes like Brandywine (one of my favorites), Cherokee Purple, and Yellow Pear. Romain lettuces, summer squash, Sugar snap peas for the cool season, Nantes carrots, chard, two types of beets, broccoli, and onions. Really there are just too many to list!

How does this happen? I make lists every year of what I have so I don't buy more of what I don't need. Then I forget that handy list when I'm in the store and I end up with an extra variety of beets, or tomatoes, or whatever looks really enticing. Lists are never where you need them most. Maybe this will be the year to hold back on the seed purchases! Maybe...

Most of the ornamental seeds are from the garden, seed swaps, and of course I do buy a couple every now and then. Over time it's easy to accumulate way more than you need. That's one reason why seed swaps are good because you can exchange what you have too much of for what you need. It won't be long now before it's time to plant Sugar snap peas and cool season greens - I can't wait! 

What do you plan on planting first?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Best Materials for Raised Beds

I'm a huge fan of vegetable gardening - or any gardening for that matter - in raised beds. There are many reasons raised beds are great for gardens like being able to garden nearly anywhere (even on rocky ground), controlling the soil, or planting more plants in a smaller space but what actually makes a good raised bed? The best raised beds give you all the advantages I just mentioned and can be made of many different kinds of materials.

The Best Raised Bed Materials

In my mind the best raised bed materials are those that will last for a long time, are low on care or maintenance, and provide a healthy environment for plants and the people who eat them.

Natural Rocks: Natural rock raised beds definitely give you form and function - especially if you like the rustic/natural look (I'm a fan).
  • Advantages: Solid, no maintenance, can be made into multiple shapes and forms.
  • Disadvantages: Can be heavy to move around, may need mortared together to gain bed height..

Bricks: reclaimed bricks make excellent raised bed materials
  • Advantages: Solid, no maintenance, can be made into multiple shapes and forms.
  • Disadvantages: Can be expensive in large quantities, if small may need mortared together to gain bed height.
Concrete Blocks: concrete blocks made for construction are very economical.
  • Advantages: Solid, no maintenance, fairly inexpensive
  • Disadvantages: Very heavy to move around, may not look as nice as other options.

Cedar or Redwood: Durable wood materials that naturally resist rot.
  • Advantages: Resist rot and will last several years. Easy to assemble.
  • Disadvantages: Can be expensive, will eventually need replaced

Pots: Believe it or not pots are great raised beds for vegetable gardening.
  • Advantages: You control the soil, can move the pots into the best locations or indoors if there is danger of frost.
  • Disadvantages: Dry out fast and need frequent watering, need to find the right vegetables for the pots (determinant, dwarf, or bush type plants)

Good Raised Bed Materials

Good raised beds offer the function of a raised bed vegetable garden but may require some maintenance or repairs over time. They can be very functional yet attractive at the same time.

Untreated wood: Untreated beds will last only a couple years but are inexpensive and easy to put together.
  • Advantages: Inexpensive and easy to assemble into basic shapes.
  • Disadvantages: Will need replaced within 2-3 years, could attract termites - don't put too close to your home.
Mounded Beds: Mounding is a good way to do a raised bed garden without sides for retaining soil. 
  • Advantages: Inexpensive, easy to build.
  • Disadvantages: Lack of barriers for soil retention may cause erosion of the bed over time.
Poured Concrete
  • Advantages: Will last a long time, very solid, looks good and can be stained/painted
  • Disadvantages: It takes a lot of labor and time to set up. Can't be moved easily - fairly permanent.

Poor and Bad Raised Bed Materials

Pressure Treated Lumber: Older pressure treated lumber should be avoided.  The treating process used to use arsenic but that is no longer the case. New pressure treated lumber is probably fine although I won't use it for edibles (I'm paranoid). Today's pressure treated lumber contains copper which probably won't leach into your soil in significant enough quantities to cause any harm.
  • Advantages: Resists rot and will last several years.
  • Disadvantages: Depending on the type pressure treated wood its toxicity may be in question.
Old Tires

  • Advantages: Easy to come by and easy to assemble
  • Disadvantages: Will eventually degrade and release toxic chemical into the soil - not good for vegetables! May not be very aesthetically pleasing - I'm not a fan.

    If you are building a new raised bed this year you may want to look at this post: Designing a Raised Bed Vegetable Garden 11 Things to Think About.

    I'm very partial to using stone and bricks as raised bed even though most of mine are built from cheap, readily available untreated pine. What materials do you like best for your raised beds?

    Monday, January 18, 2010

    Signs of Spring and Greenhouse Updates

    Sometimes looking at plants from above just makes you think of more winter, more cold, more rain, more sleet , more snow...

    ...but if you look underneath you just might find a little bit more to look forward to!

    Greenhouse Update:

    I completed some work with some concrete blocks and set up an area for my mowers and general shed-storage area. You can read about it and see the pictures at: Blocks, Bricks, and Floor.

    Sunday, January 17, 2010

    My Raised Bed Vegetable Garden Changes for 2010

    Each year I try to expand the vegetable garden a little bit more. The first year in our home I didn’t have time to put together a garden before the growing season started and we missed out on any vegetable garden.

    The "L" Shaped Raised Beds:

    The second year I put together a set of raised beds that were arranged in an “L” shape. The idea was neat but I left grass around the beds that I had to mow around and it became very difficult to keep the area neat. “L” shaped beds would work great if you have a nice low groundcover – like thyme – or some sort of mulch (either hardwood or gravel based) to replace the grass.

    Potager Vegetable Garden with Raised Beds:

    In 2009 I got smarter. I rearranged the raised beds into a grid with a combination of small raised beds, large raised beds, and two large in ground planting areas. 2009's raised bed vegetable garden was a very good and functional layout. It allowed me to move around all the beds easily (until the cherry tomatoes went wild and took over) and was pretty good for arranging my soaker hose irrigation system.

    Raised Bed Changes for 2010:

    This year I’ll improve on the previous garden layout by adding a few more beds. There’s no need for a remake I’ll just change the two large ground beds into four 10’x2’ beds and add an extra long bed for perennials like strawberries.

    Vegetable Garden Layout Raised Bed

    I’ve debated on the strawberry situation as the runners always seem to want to take over the garden – and maybe the world (it could worse, it could be kudzu!). My second option for the strawberries would be to create a completely new bed for them somewhere else in the yard but that might be problematic when the annual invasion of the bunnies begins.

    Raised beds are one of the greatest things you can do to increase your chances of success in the backyard vegetable garden (if you want to see why take a look at the Benefits of Raised Bed Gardening and if want advice on building a Raised Bed Vegetable Garden here are some things to think about!).  This is just the basic layout of the vegetable garden and I intend to get more specific soon by putting together a diagram of where everything was last year and where I want things to be this year.  Crop rotation is something I try to practice but it’s not always practical – especially when you try to squeeze too many tomato plants into the garden!

    You’ve never been guilty of planting too many tomatoes have you? ;)

    Saturday, January 16, 2010

    A View From The Greenhouse

    I’m still actively working on my big garden project – the greenhouse – but I stopped for a minute the other day and took a picture from the greenhouse toward our house. It’s the middle of January and the landscape is still asleep – dormant – waiting for warmer weather to come along. It won’t be too long now before signs of life begin to emerge. In fact many daffodils have begun rising above the soil of their garden beds. They haven’t enjoyed the frosty weather but they’ll be fine – they always are.

    View From The Greenhouse of the Lawn in Winter 1-2010-1

    What garden projects are you anticipating working on this year?