Monday, September 02, 2013

Labor Day Work

I'm taking advantage of the Labor Day holiday to get some work done for my garden.   Or at least that was the plan.  I slept in today, but managed to get out and get a picture of the garden area at 9:00am -- it was totally shady.  At 10:00 I had sun in most of the area!

So I get dressed up in my longer-sleeved shirt (it needs to be white), my boots (I need some new Wellies), hat and garden gloves to go rake some of the grass recently mowed on the pipeline right-of-way.  The temperature at the moment is in the upper 80s.  I lasted about 10 minutes.  Raking is certainly a different kind of exercise than I usually get.  On my calorie indicator program, it said I burned about 28 calories for 10 minutes of raking.  Of course, there is no indicator for 86 degrees in full sun, with a warm breeze.   Sigh.

Anyway, here's what I accomplished.  Now, how do I get this to the garden area?  I need to check the wheels on my garden cart.

Oh, btw, I have now adjusted my camera settings -- hopefully future pictures will come out brighter (and I won't have to adjust).  They were set for indoors.... oops!  Ok, now to go take my 11:00 light reading.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Garden Site Preparation

I am trying to determine the best site for my Keyhole garden.  The area that I call my garden is quite shaded.  So I will be taking pictures several times over the next two days to look at the sun/shade patterns.

This first picture is from a couple of years ago.  (Warning, I haven't edited the photos, so they will likely take a while to download).

See the dead limbs in the upper right corner of the picture.  That (dead) tree fell over into the yard.  I have since had it (mostly) removed.  The banana plants have mostly died since I stopped watering them every day.  The center of the photo is my old 4x4 garden with a bit of fencing around it, all overgrown with weeds.  The lighter streaks across the photo is where the sunshine gets through the trees.

Here's a photo from 2:30pm today.  The bananas have mostly died -- they're hard to see in the shadow. The green area in the center is behind the well -- I'm not using that space.  I will be watching that big bright area in the right center of the picture, though I'm pretty sure that is shaded in the mornings.

The keyhole garden is approximately 6 feet in diameter, and about 29" off the ground.   Here are the specifications from Keyhole Farms, where I bought it.

Here are some links on keyhole farming:

  • The description (one of several) of making these in hot and dry areas of Africa, and in locations in the US.
  • Here is an article on Keyhole Gardening in Texas
  • And an article on Dr. Deb Tolman, who championed this type of gardening in Texas.
I have collected paper and phone books, lots of cardboard as well as my compost bin and some bags of dirt, compost and manure that I have around.  I also have some dried grass from a recent mowing.  I plan to use all of these to create the soil in my garden.  I bought a paper shredder, and I'm thinking of shredding the paper goods to aid in the composting.

I have to figure out how to protect the plants from the critters.  Short term, I'll probably cure some bamboo, which I have way too much of, and use that to create a support for netting....  Hmmm, I might be able to slide it between the frame and the corrugated metal on the OUTSIDE, then clip the netting to the frame...  that might work.  On the other hand, if I plan squash (next year), it is likely to overflow the garden and onto the ground.  So long term, I'm thinking of putting a fence around the area with ground-level plants that deer don't like (like lavender).

In conjunction with the set-up, I will start thinking of what I want to plant.  I'm told that in shady areas, it's best to stick with bulbs and leafy plants.  But I plan to plant squash -- the fruits are shaded by the leaves anyway.  I also want to plant tomatoes, eggplant and maybe peppers -- those will be experimental for a while.

The other thing I'm looking at is information on preserving produce -- I certainly won't be able to eat it all -- even from this small garden.  I'm mostly going to focus on freezing.