And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Monday, February 11, 2008

Gonna Do My Best

I have noticed that my posts have focused on grumping about the kids and my health a lot lately, so I am going to attempt an entire post with no complaining at all.

Years ago, I put Corel PhotoPaint 9 on my puter. Oh, gosh, this computer is old!

Anyway. I am just now getting around to figuring out how to use it. I had to order a book about it off of to figure it out, but I am getting there. That's how my new header happened. I am pleasantly surprised that it is a lot easier than I thought it would be. Once you figure out what all the stuff is, everything becomes pretty common sense. I even managed to get my book pretty cheap (under $10) since my version of Corel is older and the book was used. I am sure techi-type folks will read this and cringe that I have something so totally out of date, but it works for me. 'Sides, those photo altering programs are expensive! I am gonna use this 'till it no longer functions. Especially since I don't plan on doing anything too incredibly crazy with it.

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I have been busy figuring out my garden and my seed starting operation. I didn't keep very good records of yield last year, so I am unsure about how much of the different things I should plant. I know that everyone in the family wants lots of my beans (they are soooooo good), but beyond that I am lost. I have a few charts that give guidelines on how much food you can expect to get from x amount of row of several different veggies, and I think that will help a little. I wonder how accurate those charts could be.

I am also torn on what to grow. I know that I will be doing the basics (tomatoes, beans, peas, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage), but am not sure about the rest. Mr. Barefoot keeps pushing for melons. I have NEVER had any luck with melons. I don't think the plants have ever even survived past the first couple of weeks. Usually the bunnies get them. Of course this won't be an issue if I get the fence up right away, but I still have a vague memory of the vines growing but not getting any fruit off of them. Besides, I am not a big melon fan. I would prefer to use the space for something I can freeze or can and then use the money I would be saving to purchase melons from the farmer's market.

Mr. Barefoot is also pushing for pumpkins and other vine-plants. I don't know. Dad always gets his acorn squash because he loves it and, after all, it is his property. I would like to grow some patty pan squash and maybe a zucchini and a yellow summer squash. But that is a lot of space taken up with plants that we don't really eat the produce of very often. I love, love, LOVE summer squash in stir fry or grilled, but that is about the only time I want it (and the rest of the family doesn't really eat it, either). I am cool with the acorn squash, because I have discovered that it is FABULOUS cut into cubes, mixed with cubes of 'taters, 'bagas, kohlrabi, and carrots and then baked. I am even thinking that it might be good to plant more than one vine. I just keep running into the space issue.

I SHOULD have set up trellises for vine veggies last fall when I put the raised bed boxes in. Lack of energy and foresight got in the way. Now I have to weigh the pros and cons of the different things I want to grow because there isn't enough room for all of it in the amounts that I want.

Speaking of my raised beds, Dad told me that their old neighbor (who has since moved out of town but still lives nearby) saw them and thinks they are fugly. I am hurt a little. I thought they were beautiful! Just to refresh your memory (or show those of you who weren't here last Nov when I posted the pic), this is what the garden looks like. Rather what it LOOKED like before the snow fell and covered it all up. My plan is to put grass clippings covered by carpet scraps in the walkways as weed control and use the Square Foot Gardening system in the boxes. I have 10 boxes that are 4x8feet.

Do you folks think it's ugly? No, I am sorry. Not just ugly, but FUGLY. I think it is kind of pretty, myself. Of course it will be much more attractive when each box is full of green growing things, but for empty beds I figure they look just fine.

I am considering making bed covers out of PVC pipe and heavy plastic. Maybe then I could get a few more weeks out of our growing season. I am looking at this pic taken on Nov 27th of last year and thinking that with a little bit of effort I could have still had some of the more cold-hardy veggies still growing in there. Of course, it would take effort and time (something I seem to have lots of in the spring but then trickles away to nearly nothing by fall). Maybe I should focus on trellises for Mr. Barefoot's vine crops first, and then worry about row covers.

Anyhoo, I think that concludes my complaint-free post. Have a good one, all!


Jen said...

I think they look fantastic - orderly, strong and full of promise.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Barefoot,
I have always had a couple of zucchini plants in my raised beds--they're nice because they aren't as viney as other squash. Last year I planted a cucumber for the first time and had the vines running up the teepee-like poles. That worked pretty good and easier to pick because it was vertical.
I'm anxious to see how your gardens will turn out and I think your raised beds are wonderful. I currently have only one but have the wood for at least one more that I would like to get assembled early in the spring to expand my vegetable production this season too.

Thomas said...

found your blog via em.
Good to find another gardener out there. I used to use the square foot gardening method and love it.

I just grow one yellow squash and one zucchini plant for the missus. I like acorn and butternut for myself, but you gotta trellis those winter squash.


Wendy said...

I think your raised garden beds are very beautiful and orderly, and you can tell your Dad's former neighbor that the crazy lady in Maine said anyone who thinks any garden is "fugly" should be very hungry. Food doesn't come in a box, afterall.

You should plant what you're going to eat, and what you can store for winter, because you live in an area that doesn't have a year-round growing season. I had the same dilemma last year regarding melons. I grew mine in 5 gal buckets. I used seed that promised dwarf melons only requiring a very short growing period. They should have been the size of a bowling ball, but were about the size of a baseball :). This year, I'll save my money and buy melons at the farm stand :).

You might try the 3 Sisters garden, and grow corn, beans and squashes all in the same bed. The corn provides a trellis for the beans and the squash (or pumpkin) provides ground cover to keep the weeds down. You could do three to four rows of corn across with about eight plants in each row, which would yield 21 to 42 ears, depending on the type of corn you grow. There are about 5 doz ears in a bushel ... if I'm remembering correctly. Three beds of corn would give you about a bushel of corn, plus all of the beans and pumpkins/squash. You'd have plenty of corn, beans and squash, and still have over half your garden for other things ;).

barefoot gardener said...

Thank you! Have you been around before? If you have, you haven't commented nearly enough. Welcome, pull up a chair and chat with me for a while.

Raised beds are fabulous, as far as I am concerned. Even if they are only a few inches higher than ground level, it saves my back so much trouble.

Welcome! Stick around for a while. I think you are funny as heck! I love the beer/candidate comparisons.
Glad to hear from someone who has tried it that SFG works well.

You may have hit on the solution to my problem. I usually grow bush beans, but I could trade out pole beans (or leave the beans out altogether). Dad generally doesn't like trying new things (he is a very traditional gardener. If it isn't in rows he gets a little nervous. Still, if I can convince him this might be the best solution. I will have to do a little research on this.....

Deb said...

Tell that old neighbor to FUG off! :)

I'm getting lots of ideas here for my own 4 x 8 beds. Do you like kale and Swiss chard? They've done really well in my garden and you could keep kale going well into the winter. I also grow lettuce, not the head kind but the leaf lettuce which you can just pick leaves off for weeks.

Okay, now I'm in the mood for gardening! :)

barefoot gardener said...

I love lettuce (kept meaning to get some growing indoors all winter and it just never happened). I tried chard last year because you kept talking about how you like it and kale so much. Umm, is it rude to say I didn't really like it? I didn't HATE it, but it's not something I would look forward to having.

I am thinking about doing a lot of root veggies that handle the cold really well (as well as lettuce). We'll see how things go!

Kati said...

I think the boxes look sturdy & purposeful. And when it comes to gardening, that's worlds more important than "pretty". Your gardening plans sound considerably more thought out than mine, thus far. (I've gotten as far as "I want zucchini & chard.") Best of luck with the planning, and I hope the planting stage comes quickly for you.

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

Hi Barefoot,
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and they most certainly look beautiful to me.

In the words of one Thomas Jefferson, "Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting of bonds."

Thats you he was writing about...

Keep the faith,


barefoot gardener said...

All of this planning by no means indicates an ability to follow through. I think knowing that you want zucchini and chard is a fabulous plan!

Wow. I I LOVE that quote. It made me tear up just a bit. Thank you so much for your kind words and for visiting my humble blog. I do hope you become a perminent fixture around here, as I am sure I will become at your blogs.