Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Keeper of the Garden"

This is Coco, an Australian Shepard/Rottweiler. She is very intelligent, loyal and a great watchdog for the garden or at least we thought.

Here she is being the watchdog that she is.

Well apparently we haven't been feeding her enough. You see... this is our worm bin... cement blocks housing a mound of soil with worms followed by decomposing kitchen waste, moist shredded newspaper and finally a thick layer of straw. The worms are thriving so beautifully with this living arrangement that Coco has been able to sense this air of contentment; and has decided to partake in their jovial feasting. I found some holes in the hay with chunks of decomposing strawberries on top and I though, it has to be that raccoon that we saw coming out of the storm drain the other night. Then I saw Coco approach with that guilty look and face covered with hay. Ha! the culprit! So I made sure the worms still had plenty to eat, filled the holes with more straws and proceeded to scold her with "NO" getting in the worm bin and then she did it again the following day.

So I decided to cover the bin with plastic, for now, since it's still chilly and it would serve as frost protection. Actually I don't think it really needs it for frost protection, but it does keep Coco out. If you look closely, you'll be able to see that the left side is actually taller than the rest of the bin. We ran out of blocks and are in need of four more. We'll have to take care of that on the next trip to the hardware store. So I'm hoping that Coco won't be able to reach the inside of the bin once the rest of the blocks are up.

I purchased my red wiggler worms from Dick Devine(that is his name) nice man that lives in Washoe Valley and advertises on Craigslist. He keeps his worms in the same type of home environment as mine, in fact, I learned how to build my bin from him. His bins are about three feet wide, 12 feet long and about 2 feet high. His worms survive the Washoe Valley winds, hot summers and cold winter and they do just fine. The man is very knowledgeable, and resourceful. He even gave us a sample of worm castings and taught us how to make worm tea. Our visit felt like a field trip to the farm, educational and enjoyable. He charges $35 a pound for the worms , but he also includes the housing that they are in.

I just wanted to show you what I cover my garden with on a cold windy night -worn sheets...I use clothespins to fasten them and pin them down with rocks around the edges. It's been working well so far. I know, it's esthetically pitiful but I make sure it's off early in the morning. Oh, I also want to mention that in addition to the sheets I cover the crops with plastic containers (milk jugs, sport drink bottles and so on.)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Another Cold Night

I just looked at my seedlings. The radishes have pop up and so have the broccoli. It's really exciting but on the same note I'm a little discouraged by the weather. Today it will drop to about 26 degrees. I don't have plastic to drape over my box so I just grabbed some old sheets and draped them over the the boxes and fastened them with clothes pins and rocks. I hope this works. Next year I'll either plant my cold weather crops a couple of weeks later or I'm not sure. You're probably wondering why I would be so worried about the cold weather crops, they're supposed to be sweeter when they are exposed to cold weather. Well I've discovered that my seedlings are a little yellow and I believe its from the frost, because I've have been fertilizing and I don't think it's from lack of nitrogen.
I've been dreaming of a greenhouse. Oh I want one so badly. I've found one that I would love to have. It's made by gardener supply company. It's a 4by 6(tiny, yes) and it double insulated with 6mil poly carbonate walls. I've read that the 4 mils are not insulated enough for this type of region(cold region) otherwise I would just purchase one from harbor freight for under $300.
What do you think? Any suggestions?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Some of my seedlings

Cherry tomato plants. They're not yellow it just appears that way.
I also have some beefsteak and roma tomato seedlings. I decided to grow some extra ones for friends and family.

Black-eyed Susans

I use this large bucket to hold my potting soil. I love it because it's spacious and I don't make a mess when I'm potting my plants.

Avalanche petunia

Avalanche petunias potted into Styrofoam cups. The top portion of the cups are cut off and used to protect plants from cut worms...and I also poke holes in the bottom sides around the perimeter for drainage. Some Styrofoam are recyclable or you can reuse them if you remove them from the plans without braking them.

Styrofoam "collars"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Some Great Gardening Resources

I'd like to mention some of the great local gardening resources we have here in Reno that have helped me get on my way to gardening.

The University of Nevada Reno Cooperative extension is a great place to start. Located on Mill street. You can stop by and they will answer all your questions and even provide you with tons of information on gardening in our area. The individuals working in the horticultural department are graduates of the master gardening program and are required to volunteer so many hours serving the community, and answering phones at the cooperative extension. So don't be shy, if you have any questions, just pick up the phone and ask for the horticulture department and they will steer you in the right direction. Oh one more thing I'd like to mention is their annual sale of plants and seedlings. I've never gone but I've heard it's a sale($1&2 dollar plants) that many in the community line up early in the morning for and it is usually done Saturday mornings once a year. So call them up and ask them about the date. Hopefully they haven't had it already this year and if they've had it already, well you can go next year.

The next place I'd like to mention is the Washoe County Library. I love this place. You can stop by any of their branches and look in their gardening section. What I like to do is visit their website and let my fingers do the walking. From their website you can look up books available from all their branches, put them on hold( and it doesn't matter which branch they are at)and pick them up at the branch that you designate.

Also don't forget some of our local used books such as the Paperback Exchange and Zephyr. Just do a search for used bookstores in Reno. You'll get a list of them. Oh and don't forget to call them first, it'll save you a trip if they don't have any gardening books... and I don't think I need to mention the national chain bookstores.

The next place I like to turn to for gardening items is Craigslist. I love this classified service. I've found many great items at such great prices. All of the gardening items that I've acquired from Craigslist were from individuals that were moving... and the items were in good condition. So make sure you look under farm& garden and garage sales.

Well, I think I've divulged most of my gardening resources. Oh, wait. I just want to mention my favorite catalog for gardening items...The Gardeners Supply Company. They sell some really nice gardening items and their website has some useful articles on gardening. Of course they promote their items in these articles but I just love looking at their bright colorful pictures.

As far as gardening, I have some peas soaking in water with some inoculant and molasses ready for planting. I think I will do that tomorrow. I will plant them in the shady box next to the fence.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Grids and Such

Not much was done in the garden this weekend, except for watering and visually inspecting my little kale plants. They seem to being growing so slow, but I believe kale likes to take its time. Patience, Daisy! I've even named one of them my little runt. I did fertilize them with Dr Earth's All Purpose Fertilizer, four tablespoons in 1 gallon of water. I'm considering a gallon sprayer so that I can spray the foliage of my smaller plants without damaging them and I believe it will be much more efficient than just dumping the water on the plants.

I will be adding worm castings as soon as my supply increases. I have a homemade worm bin with new tenants. More on that in the near future.

I just wanted to show you the grid in one of my boxes. I used butchers twine (I believe that's what it's called) and thumb tacks. I think thumb tacks are smoother, you're less likely to cut your wrist on them, and you can reuse them without even having to remove them.

These are the 1" copper tube straps that I used to anchor the pvc pipes and they are just resting on the ground.

Miss M planting carrot seeds comfortably on our garden cart. I picked up the garden cart on craigslist for $10 and the compartment was full of good tools. Thank you to the lady that sold it to me.

I also built a trellis for the indeterminate tomatoes and climbing beans. It was so easy to build and inexpensive. I believe they were 1 inch wide and 8ft tall. I cut them with a hand saw and screwed the pieces together. The wood might have been $4.50 for the three pieces. The netting was the most expensive at $5.00.

The trellis netting

I need to do more adjusting as it was very cold and windy the day I was setting it up. I'll be making one more of trellises for the box on the right.

I don't know if you can tell but I've placed a netting around this box to keep the birds and those white butterflies that lay eggs out....and what do you think I found in there the other day..A white butterfly struggling to get out through the 1/2 inch holes. Who knows, it's probably laid a thousand eggs in this box already! So I'll probably be getting plenty of loopers on my greens.
That just means I'll get to spend more time in my garden. I love it, as long as I'm winning the battle.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Building of a Garden

Here is my first box, 3by8 ft and 16 inches high. The location was a total mistake. I believe it gets about 3 hrs of direct sunlight. I'll have to use it to grow greens in there since moving it is out of the question. I did recently plant some potatoes in there against my better judgement. We'll see what happens I may just end up pulling them out and replanting them in bags.

Presenting my new square garden. Inspired my Mel Bartholomew. I found one of his first books on squarefoot gardening at the Paperback exchange. His books are a great source of information on raised bed gardening. Each squarefoot area in the boxes turned out to be 11.5 square inches. I don't think the guy at the hardware store did a very accurate job at cutting the wood or I just didn't build them right. We placed weed block cloth down and this allows the water to drain but keeps the weeds out. I hope it works. Pulling the lawn out was going to be too much time and work. We did the best we could trying to align them but some of the sides of the boxes were longer and the lawn was not very level.

We purchased one yard of double mix from Oxburrow($26dollars and $30 for delivery.) 2 bags($4.99each) of manure compost and a 3.8c.u ft bag of peat moss. We over payed for the peat moss. We bought it at Moana Nursery for $25 and we just saw the same size bag at Homedepot for 7.99 just recently. It's too late to return it. I need to remember to shop around.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hi everyone and thank you for stopping by my new blog. This website will be about my gardening experience in Reno Nevada. Yes, I know there are many blogs out there on gardening, but I'd like to think that there is someone that would like to read about my gardening experience in Reno.

I live in the south part of Reno, a zone 5 climate area. There are many microclimates in Reno so make sure you do some research as to what zone you are in.

Victory garden on the White House Lawn

The White House will have a Victory Garden planted on the South Lawn, starting tomorrow. Yes!!!! Kudos to the Obamas, the staff, and elementary school that are involved in this project. I am so happy that they are taking a stand and to be prominent role models for the rest of America. Michelle, you just got another star in my book. Oh...and Michelle, I would love to watch this garden as it is being constructed, a video would do.