Pics: garden update

We’ve been so busy this summer and constantly behind schedule, I kept taking pictures and never got around to posting them.

We now have the tomato garden, a raised ENCLOSED bed on the north side of the garage, a raised bed on the north end of the property and a stucco wire fenced area with cacti, willows and other non food plants and a big stucco fenced area with cacti and various non-food plants that keep getting eaten despite the fence, the small fenced area with the corn that died, but grew millet or sorghum, the fenced area with the grapes and herbs and of course the little greenhouse addition.

After we lost one plant per night to some unidentified creature with very sharp teeth, we decided to completely enclose the bed with hardware cloth and aluminum bug screen on the top:

We still have to buy some hardware to close the two “windows” in the front, right now we tie and staple them shut. We haven’t had any damage to the plants since we finished a couple weeks ago. Also still need at 10 ft board to attach the top screen securely to the back.

I’m VERY happy with this setup, although I have a tough time reaching all the way back. We got the blocks from a neighbor who ended up not building a wall and it’s convenient to be able to pick up blocks whenever we need more.

We’ll also buy plastic sheeting and we already have straw to try to prolong the growing season. It got down to 40 last week and since this bed is on the north side, it gets little sun.

Hopefully we’ll get around to doing whatever it takes to get some more of the veggies before they freeze.

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We built this box for salad and greens and started it in the addition. Recently we set it in the bed and when it gets too cold, we’ll bring it back in — hopefully BEFORE everything freezes.

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The eggplants just started flowering, most of the tomato plants and our large anaheim pepper plant were eaten. There are also some strawberries and hopefully we’ll get to eat more fruit next year. Outside the lizards and mice ate them, inside they got mites and generally did not do well.

The tomatoes did great after we wrapped the hardware cloth with shade cloth to protect them from wind.

They looked horrible in summer, but quickly recovered once they were protected from wind and we harvest a good handful almost every day. We never have enough for a salad, we usually just eat them right away because they’re so good.

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It got very windy last week and the growth above the screen really took a beating. And that was right after we got tomato and tobacco worms. For a few days we had to check twice a day and get the worms off before they ate everything.

Some of the plants look like they’re close to done, others are growing new shoots with lots of flowers and little tomatoes. I found that cherry tomatoes grow best around here.

This was a quickie portable setup, we just put a few stakes and hardware cloth around the pots. Have rocks on the outside to keep the critters from digging under.

Until it got cooler, we had shade cloth clamped to the top and only opened it to water. We did lose some tomatoes to critters, probably chipmunks who figured out how to get in. But it wasn’t too bad and since our dogs decided to kill the chipmunks that enjoy the bird food so much, they should be less of a problem next year.

And, I want at least twice as many tomatoes and we’ll probably grow them in another raised bed.

We had lots of corn, squash, melons, carrots and all kinds of stuff in the bed on the North side of the property:

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We didn’t get that done till August. Had lots of corn seedlings and transplanted way too late, so we only got a few cobs. Next year we’ll start much earlier. I don’t know what IS growing, millet or sorghum? The seeds must have blown down from the bird feeder.

The carrots were eaten shortly after they sprouted, along with some other seedlings.

I’m hoping the cantaloupe will get ripe before it freezes. Yesterday we harvested our first zucchini:

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It was amazing that it grew about 2-3 inches in a couple days. Another one is ready and I pollinated one this morning. We also have a few more Anaheim peppers growing and lots of tomatillos. I recently read that you need more than one for good pollination, so we moved a tomatillo with tons of flowers but not one fruit from the other bed down here and it looks very good now, has quite a few tomatillos growing.

After one of the few big monsoon rains we got four small willows from a wash and quickly built this little growing area:

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All four willows survived and grew several inches already.

Transplanted a few cacti, some of Wolfie’s agaves and the lavender plant from the grapes. It was right next to a grape that lost ALL fruit (the berries turned black), so I decided to move it. We got an ocotillo started from a cutting in the addition, so we added that and planted several Bird of Paradise I had started from seed. There’s also a little fenced area with barrel cactus seeds. I had started some barrels in the addition, but then mice ate them.

In the water jugs are more Bird of Paradise seedlings. They’re so easy to grow! I got the seeds from plants by the side of the road, but would really like some of the variety with red flowers too. I kept checking the beautiful plant at Chili’s on Stockton Hill in Kingman, but never got seeds.

And finally, the addition with mostly herbs:

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We got lots of organic holy basil and it’s doing really well. I’m letting it go to seed and got little seedlings coming up already. Got some hyssop, lavender, sage … Also made another box for salad and greens last week and the seeds are sprouting.

The winter sun is too HOT.

We recently raised the solar panels (went from a max of about 19 amps to 26 amps) and noticed that it got so hot in the addition because the sun is so much lower now. The pots were COOKING and really drying out fast.

I had moved some of the plastic porch cover after we got a solid roof at my old place and it’s coming in handy now. I cut a couple strips as wide as the pots are high, spray painted one side black and set them behind the pots.

It works just as expected, the pots stay cooler in the shade, but the addition gets warmer. It has a window to the kitchen and I open it in the morning so it warms up the living area. Will be testing my fans with the Kill A Watt (some measurements) and then blow the hot air into the kitchen.

The thermometer in the addition keeps track of the highs and lows and yesterday it was 99 / 63. I can’t wait to see the temps when it’s freezing outside. We’re almost done with the mud work and getting ready for the lime plaster outside. That’ll be another posting.

Sometimes it seems like we just don’t get anything done even though we’re always working on something. It’s a lot of work to plant and build, we still have to finish electric and sheet rock inside before winter AND we have to earn a living. But we’re getting there, learned a LOT and I can’t wait to start seedlings for next spring.

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