Sunday, October 5, 2008

October 5, 2008

What a day!  The forecast was dead on, if not a bit warmer than expected.  The day started early with a smoothie for the family.  Then my father showed up and we went to Lowes for the corregated fiberglass panels.  I'm really glad my dad went too because he's better at planning things than I.  We ended up getting three 12-foot panels and three of the corregated 1 by's.  It was a pain standing in line to pay because they were so flimsy that you couldn't stand them on their edge or they'd buckle and crack.  Here's what one looks like next to the kid's playset.

So we started by using scrap wood to build up one end with a 4x4 and a 2x2 in the center.  Then we started screwing it down to the corregatd 1x's.

I like how one panel covers both beds perfectly.  What I don't like is that it is not easily removable.  I also noticed a bit of a dip in the middle that couldn't be helped.  I guess I could shim the middle to make up for it.  But what we can't change is the middle of the bins. It won't handle much weight but hopefully the pitch will keep the rain from pooling.  However if it snows hard we'll have to get out there and clear it fast.  Hehe the covers cost $60 in materials.  But doesn't it look good!?

So check that off the list.  Of course while we were working my neighbor came out and had to comment on how many blackberries were ripe in the back 40.  So even though it wasn't on the list my dad and I geared up and went to do battle with the bramble once again.  The nemisis...

And the prize...

As you can see, the dead canes are thick and numerous.  The rest of the year is scheduling out to make it very unlikely that I'll get back there with a saw-tipped weedwhacker.  And boy would it be hard work to remove all those dead canes to allow for the new canes not to grow on top of a mountain of dead branches like they currently do.  Most of the harvest today came using a rake to pull vines down to something reachable.  The bramble is well over 10 feet high.  In other words, it's a mess.  Cleaning it up may have to wait until spring.  But today we got about another gallon of berries, bringing the total jelly harvest to about 3 gallons.  That should make enough jelly for three families to have homemade jelly for the coming year. Whew!

The next item of the list was the daunting task of fall cleaning of the beds and removal of the trellis.  I got my motivation up by starting with the cucumbers.  First I harvested everything ready to harvest.

And all that's from plants that are almost covered with powdery mildew.  I chickened out and didn't rip out the plants.  Despite the rapidly spreading disease, the cukes keep on growing.  So I took pains to unthread the vines through the trellis, keeping all the vines that had inch-long cukes growing. 

Notice how I just left the vines sprawling all over the place.  And look at what I am still hopeful to harvest.

The scene was chaotic, but the kids had a blast playing in the garden with daddy.

But there was still a ton of work to do... and I had a party to go to in the evening!

Next task was to harvest every tomato that had any chance of ripening this winter wrapped in newspaper. I got a decent harvest, mostly of Early Girls.  I am on the look-out for an early variety slicer that's slightly bigger and NOT owned by Monsanto.  For salads I think I'll grow a couple cherry varieties.  But anyway, here is the harvest I still have to bleach and wrap in newsprint.

The next step was to attack the tomato jungle.  It was much easier to remove than the cukes because I wasn't saving it.

So all the dead vines and the totally green tomatoes went into the yard waste container.  I didn't want to spread the blight to the rest of my plants in my compost.  I don't have the means to kill it off like Cedar Grove likely does, especially since we can now compost meat and bones and pizza boxes etc.  /boggle

After the tomatoes came out the toughest task was next.  The pole beans twirl themselves up the trellis and were all but impossible to remove gently.  So all I could do was rip and rip and rip.  I only broke the trellis in two places.  It took forever, but I was in the zone.  During my demo I found about a pound of beans that were in various states of green/brownishness.  So I pulled them out and will attempt to dry them and harvest bean seed for next year.  I guess I'll have to figure out how to dry the beans now. Ah research!

The next time I stopped to take a picture, this is what I had left!

So the dauntiing task was finally finished.  We folded up the trellis and hung it and the tomato cages in the shed for next year.  A note on my shed.  It's 8x8 and very disorganized.  I've got shelves that I don't even use.  I really need to gut it and organize things better. I bet I could store a ton more stuff in there if I just had the time to do that.  Maybe this fall or winter I'll bundle up and head out there, set up a tarp to keep the stuff dry and organize.  Anyway, here is the shot I took as I was removing the 2x4s.

What a change from yesterday huh?

I didn't have time to set up the trellis, but I moved it over to the bed, and I also have to clean up the SWC for next year.  Unfortunately it's filled with water so it's going to be harder to empty.  Maybe I can handle both items some day this week if the weather holds and I can get home before the sun goes down.

Although based on DoubleD's advice I didn't want to set up the hoop covers, I did want to see how the hoops worked and train the PVC to bend right.  Unfortunately the first pipe I installed was an oopsie.  I didn't think of the fact that the small bed is only 3 feet wide rather than 4 feet.  The 3/4 inch pipe didn't bend well enough and it creased and broke.  Drat.  I didn't think of that before hand.  I should have gotten thinner walled PVC I guess.  Thankfully I bought more than I ended up using so I had extra and I can use the pieces for a top brace for the small bed.  But to try to train the PVC to bend that much, I bent it temporarily between the foreground holder and the second bed over.  The hoops look great together!

Hopefully in a week the PVC will bend enough to make it to two feet more to the bracket.  If not, i've got to re-think the materials for the hoop cover for that bed.  x this is me crossing my fingers, hehe.

Lastly, I am not sure what to do with Judy's marigolds.  They're mamoth.

But I don't want them under my hoop cover, unless they're perennial?  If not, i wonder if they'd hold up to being kept in a vase.  I could get a month or two of fresh flowers working through this 1 SF.  Speaking of flowers, I didn't take a picture, but that wind storm we had the other day destroyed my centerpiece rose bush. It's currently laying down in the rose garden.  /sigh  I hope if my aunt and I can butcher it it will stand back up and grow again.  If not it will be a major loss of a very mature rose bush.  Of course I would replace it with something other than pink, hehe.  Maybe yellow for my son.

So, going through my to-do list, here's what I crossed off.

  • Plant garlic in the blueberry bed.  I couldn’t find out if it companions they dislike each other, but they companion with raspberries, so I’ll give it a shot.  I plan on planting six inches apart with I think 4 inch spacing.  My brother will set me straight and provide the seed from his 2008 harvest.  Keep it going in the family.

  • Plant more lettuce, successioning it in October for late Winter harvest.  My existing lettuce is doing better such that I may even get some to harvest soon.

  • Harvest final cukes and tomates for storage and ripening. 

  • Rip out the beans, cukes and tomato plants.  I think the only ones I’ll compost are the beans because the rest have succumed to blight or mildew.  I don’t want to take the chance that it’ll carry on in my compost.

  • Remove the trellis and install my old tiny 2×2 trellis with jute twine that I had up when I first started.  It will fit nicely under the hoop cover and be my only trellis this winter. I ran out of time... next week maybe, it'll go up easily but I may need to re-string it with twine.

  • Buy the corregated roofs for my compost bins and install them.  The rainy season has started!

  • Consider covering the beds. Not sure.  Maybe DoubleD will chime in to help me decide. Per DoubleD, not yet, see above.

  • Buy a few bags of beauty bark and mulch the new blueberry bed.  Maybe install landscape fabric under it to keep the weeds and trees from creaping into it. I decided against the landscape fabric partly because I was lazy, partly I forgot and already had started, and partly didn't have that kind of time to sculpt the fabric around everything and get it covered with a limited amount of bark.  I may regret that. hehe

  • Help my aunt transplant plants to wherever she wants them, including the one into my front yard. She didn't ask me, and she got my father to help do everything she needed. I'm sure I'll help tons once the new house closes next week.

So all in all, it was a very productive weekend.  And until I was writing about it, I didn't even think about the work week to come.  Perfect!  Just as a garden should do!

Hope you enjoyed your garden this weekend!


  1. Just did the research on drying beans for seed on Saturday. Let me see if I can link it up for you....
    If that link doesn't work, just search the Beans, Peas, & other Legumes forum for 'drying beans'. It's the first referenced thread that comes up.

  2. Another method of making hoops is to put rebar into vinyl tubing(used for drip irrigation) or garden hose and bend to the arc/shape that you need. This can make small, strong hoops that are long lasting and re-usable. And they won't crack from the cold.

    btw, your place looks very good. Look at how DoubleD prepped her soil for potatoes... do any of the same for the garlic: See "Amending the Soil" at

    And thank you Laura (DoubleD) for your potatoe primer.

    Good Luck,
    Mike (aka GarlicMan76458 on

  3. I have been debating whether to put up a hook cover this year or not. I was just over at garden desk blog and he put up a hook cover almost the size of a greenhouse.

    The best way to get the pvc to bend is to use a plumbing torch and just lightly heat it, maybe a closely held hair drier might work as well.

  4. How wide are your beds? My beds are 4' wide and my PVC pipe hoops bend across just fine. Maybe mine is smaller diameter pipe (1/2")?

    Good job on getting through so many projects this weekend!

    Mike (garlicman76458) - glad that was a useful page - will try to do more like that in the future.

  5. Hey guy, next year, hang on to those green tomatoes. We'll meet up, I'll can them up, and then share the spoils! I'm giving my green Tomaters one last week on the vine, then the definite greenies will become Green Tomato Pickles. They taste like ketchup, great on burgers.