Author Topic: bigbear - 2015  (Read 5468 times)

Offline bigbear

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1520
  • Karma: 89
bigbear - 2015
« on: May 19, 2015, 01:39:53 PM »
We just finished our 2nd year in the house, so we're heading into our 3rd year gardening here.  Each year, we've expanded some...

Unfortunately, no pictures at the moment... but will do so at some point.

Fairly flat ground, in south central PA (just above the MD line).  1 acre.  Only one tree (ornamental cherry) and one flowering  bush (lilac) when we moved in.  Around the house was a bunch of evergreen bushes.  The evergreen's have pretty much been removed and replaced with rhody's, azalea, and a few other flowering plants/bulbs.  I'm between 2 horse farms (one dude's crazy, the other guy's pretty cool), so I have easy access to manure.

Perennial fruit/veggies:
Apple trees x3 - Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, Fuji
* I planted them last spring, so they survived their first winter.  And it was cooooold.  None of them flowered, but based on what I've read, it's probably due to how aggressive I was with pruning.
Any other thoughts?
* Last year I had some tent worms that I mostly hand picked.  I guess I'll need to come up with a way to counter them when the trees get bigger.
* Lots of new green growth this year.

Blueberry x2 - so far just 2 low bush types because they're in a fairly shaded area)
* Just planted them this spring.  They have flowered and seem to be setting fruit. 
I'm hoping the location gets enough sun.  If not, I'll move them...

Asparagus - I planted some in a bad spot 2 years ago just to get them started... Now I want to move them, figures...  A saying I learned in Boy Scouts "Proper prior planning prevents pitifully poor performance"...  Anyway, I have since added some garden space, so this winter they'll be moved to a better spot.  I've also started a few other asparagus plugs in the new spot this year.

Figs - ok, I cheated listing this one.  But my father-in-law is moving soon and has offered me his fig tree.  He just planted it 2 years ago.  Every year it freezes back to the ground.  It'll be planted on the SW side of the house, so it should get blocked from the harshest winds.  Plus, it'll be between the house and my large freshly coated blacktop driveway.  Here's to hoping that adds the needed heat!  I plan on wrapping it too (my FIL didn't do that).

I've done mostly wooden box raised beds.  I did a small one for a few years before we moved here.  Two big pros: less weeding and better root development.  Though, I'm re-thinking the weeding bit since I've begun using the horse manure.  The cons: cost of the wood, fill dirt.  I've been composting, so I have a little to add.  And the manure.  Plus, this year I pull out a couple of dirt mounds (previous owner was into quad racing).  But we've also got a good sized plot that's not raised.

I started a good bit from seed this year and was successful!  First time!  The difference was a cold frame.  I brought it in a couple of nights that dropped down into the 20-30's, but for the most part it was outside.  Previously, there was not really a good indoor spot that fits the needs for everyone in the family - my wife included!  ;)  So my seeds didn't get enough light.  Mrs. Bear though does start the beans in clear plastic cups (just dampens a paper towel and slides it into a clear plastic cup, inserts a bean between the cup and paper, then stacks another cup into that cup to hold the bean in place, and add water occasionally).  The kids enjoy watching the roots grow and the plant shoot up.  Rinse and repeat a couple of week later.

Enough chatter?  What's in the ground?

In no particular order:
Kentucky green beans
Sugar snap peas
Lima beans

* Some type of slicer
* Some type of pickler
* And an Armenian Yard Cucumber - my son picked this one because the seed package said the fruit grows to be 2-3 feet long!  Who can say 'no' to that?!

Tomato - I don't recall the specific names, but we did:
3 - cherries
2 - midsized
4 - slicers
My kids took a few and put them in containers too.

2 - Jalapenos
2 - Bells

Squash and zucchini - hopefully I planted 3 of each...  I started 5 seeds (1 is none, 2 is 1 mentality).  But I didn't mark them and the cold frame fell at one point, so they got mixed up. 

Red potatoes - a bunch stored from last year.  I should have eaten more before they started getting soft this past fall/winter, because we threw some into the compost bin. 
* Here's my potato question - I planted them in the ground (4x4 raised bed).  Instead of hilling them, can I just add straw?

Watermelon - along the aforementioned driveway.
Muskmelon - or as most of America calls them - cantaloupe.

Sunflowers - 7-8 giants.  I grew them last year, but cut the heads too soon.  This year I planted some peas around a few of them and put a tomato cage around that.  A few are right next to squash/zuke plants.  Quasi-3 sisters style.

Now that I've got this posted, I'll be more motivated to take pictures and track the progress... (he says to himself hopefully)

Offline Ms. Albatross

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1746
  • Karma: 138
Re: bigbear - 2015
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2015, 02:27:19 PM »

* And an Armenian Yard Cucumber - my son picked this one because the seed package said the fruit grows to be 2-3 feet long!  Who can say 'no' to that?!


Offline Aunt

  • Survivor
  • ***
  • Posts: 107
  • Karma: 3
  • Life-long Learner
Re: bigbear - 2015
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2015, 12:52:18 PM »
How is the garden Bigbear? 

I planted fig trees last year.  I thought the winter killed them.  But they grew back from the roots.  I started them from cuttings I got from trees located south and west of me that never die back in the winter.  I hope mine do better this winter.

Offline bigbear

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1520
  • Karma: 89
Re: bigbear - 2015
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2017, 01:48:03 PM »
Guess who has two thumbs and isn't very good about posting updates?  This guy!

But I'm getting excited about the garden this year.  It's been unusually warm this winter.  Not very long cold spells.  I would think that would mean a poor apple crop.  Which isn't a big deal for me because I'd like one more solid growing year.

We now have 9 blueberry bushes.  7 high bush, 2 low bush.  Don't recall the types.  Not much production from the high bushes yet.  But the low bush have done ok (but I still need to move them. 

We have 4 raspberry bushes.  Again, don't recall the types.

And have some strawberry and hoolaberries (some type of strawberry) plants around the blueberries/apple trees.

My FIL's figs stayed with the house he sold.  But I just got 3 fig cultivars.  All are supposed to do well in cooler weather and produce in first year growth.  If you want to get into figs or the Figs4Fun forum are both filled with good people willing to share their fig knowledge. 

The asparagus took well to the move.  I've added some more plugs, but am still going to wait another year or two before harvesting.

The Armenian Yard Cucumber wasn't as productive as I would have liked.  Plus it didn't taste very good.  But it was interesting!  And my son enjoyed seeing them grow.  Haven't grown them since.

I'll probably do similar stuff as the last few years - but with corn and not potato.  And add some red chili peppers and eggplants.

We plan on getting 12 more peeps this spring.  Probably 3 or 4 of different varieties.  Plymouth Barred Rocks, Australorps, and Delawares are on the short list.  I'm planning on growing some amaranth for the girls as well. 

Offline bigbear

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1520
  • Karma: 89
Re: bigbear - 2015
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2019, 02:32:49 PM »
The homestead has evolved over the years... 

Coop is now big enough to handle 20 chooks.  Currently have 10 with 6 more coming soon.  Last weekend I staked out temporary fencing around the garden so they have full reign of the garden beds (until I start planting out the beds).  It also had helped keep the neighbor's chickens out of my feed and will help keep them out of my garden beds in the summer.

I only expanded the garden beds a little bit last spring.  And no real plans to expand the beds this spring either.

This spring:
* Blueberry patch swale and retaining - done.  Just need to get and plant the bushes.
* Cattle panel arch trellises - at least 3 of them.  Will be used for beans, tomato, cukes, spaghetti squash, and some trellising flowers.
    * With the saved space, I'm planning on planting a few dozen sunflowers to supplement chicken feed.
* Wood chips - currently I'm not using wood chips any.  My raised beds and traditional beds are just mulched with grass clippings and pine straw from a neighbor.  And around the beds is just grass.  This year I've reached out to a local arborists and he said he'd drop off a load!  But hasn't happened so far...  I'll be mulching the beds, around the beds, in the coop, and in the compost bin. 

Offline bigbear

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1520
  • Karma: 89
Re: bigbear - 2019
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2019, 12:43:41 PM »
On Friday the local arborist dropped off a truck full of wood chips for free!  I only had a few hours to work on it Sunday afternoon but was able to knock out about 2/3 of the pile.  The chicken run, garden walkways, on the blueberry patch, around a few trees, and under the swings (for the kids).  I didn't cover the beds this go around, I'll wait until after planting in a few weeks.

Offline bigbear

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1520
  • Karma: 89
Re: bigbear - 2015
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2019, 09:43:26 AM »
A little progress report...  Finished putting down the chips in April.  Blueberry bushes planted (think we have 11-12 total now).  Only did 2 arches. 

Used some t-posts and green plastic fencing to fence off an extra run area for the chickens.  Actually there are three areas.  One around the garden, a central entrance area, and this new one.  The second "paddock" is grass for now.  Eventually I'll fill it with chips too.  The goal is to plant a couple of trees/bushes in this area and make it into a quasi-food forest.  I'm currently thinking a white mulberry, a persimmon, an eastern red bud, and 2-3 hazelnuts. 

Planted out seedlings!  This year's crop list:
2 cherry tomato
6 beefeaters
6 big boys
12 cauliflower
12 broccoli
3 zukes
2 spaghetti squash
3 squash
9 cukes
20+ beans
2 jalepenos
12 various sweet/bell peppers
20ish sweet corn
12ish sunflower
2 watermelon
2 cantelope
lettuce, spinach, carrots, raddish, nasturtium, lavender, oregano, basil, rosemary and...  ??? I feel like I've missed some. 

Already harvesting asparagus and lettuce.  Raspberries are starting to flower.  Apples have flowered and are starting to set too.  Figs have been unwrapped for a month or so.  Mine freeze back to the ground, so they are bushes each year.  They have started a few branches.

My neighbors chickens are frequent visitors to my blueberry patch.  They love digging in my mulch.  The issue is they have dug up some of the blueberry roots!  I had some gardening cloth/chicken wire around, so I staked them around a few of the smaller bushes.  And laid some of the larger rolls between some of the bigger bushes.  It's not perfect, but than nothing.

Offline bigbear

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1520
  • Karma: 89
Re: bigbear - 2015
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2019, 02:22:58 PM »

Offline bigbear

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1520
  • Karma: 89
Re: bigbear - 2015
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2019, 09:00:15 AM »

To add a little commentary:

The first pic is the Fuji/blueberry mini-swale bed.  I probably packed the blueberries too tight.  I'm noticing some creeping Charlie or some type of ground vining plant starting to spread into the bed.  I'm thinking of putting a physical barrier/border to that side of the bed, but then putting in a line of daffodils as a biological barrier too.  Then putting some alpine strawberries as a ground cover.  There's also a Golden Delicious behind me.  At some point (about where I'm taking the picture from) I'll be planting another tree.  Thinking a self-fertile persimmon or 3-n-1 almond.  Would love to do a pawpaw, but not sure I want to cram two or more trees in there.  Plus they send up suckers and it eventually will be a small patch of pawpaws if not maintained well.  Not sure I want that battle. 

The second pic has a Honeycrisp/raspberry hedge.  I put it here to hide the coop a bit.  I'll probably widen the raspberry V trellis a bit for the shoots as it spreads.  I can easily fit the mower down the alley, but I'm probably going to fill it with mulch and putting some shadow-loving/scented/chicken beneficial plants along the coop/fence line (currently has some lemon balm).  In the middle of the chicken run, I'm planning on a Sweet Lavender Mulberry tree.  These are white mulberries that don't stain with no compromise to the fruit flavor (they say).  Plus, they only grow to 20-30' tall. 

These first two pics show the area I want to make into a small food forest area.  Mrs. Bear hasn't bought into the vision yet.  But she wasn't a fan of the chicken run either.  Now she thinks it's not that bad and agrees that the chickens seem to love it.

The third/fourth pic is the main part of the annual garden.  And the fifth pic is a long bed at the very back of the property, bordering my neighbors wheat/weed field.  The opposite end of that bed has some asparagus, but the rest is annuals.  I'm standing beside a large lilac bush taking that pic. 

Offline LvsChant

  • Resident Master Mudder
  • Global Moderator
  • Survival Veteran
  • ******
  • Posts: 7817
  • Karma: 614
Re: bigbear - 2015
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2019, 04:19:07 PM »
Looks really nice, bear! Thanks for sharing the pictures and description...