Welcome to Bepa's Garden! This blog is about organic gardening, healthy eating and healthy living. Each month I will be posting Garden To-Do Lists, Tips & Techniques, Garden Project Plans, Photos from the Garden, Recipes and Book Reviews. I hope you enjoy reading and I hope I can inspire others to start a backyard garden! Happy Gardening! ~Rob~
To share my love of gardening, I built and donated a couple of planters to Oswegatchie Elementary School for their Wonderful Wednesdays Gardening program. In the program the children walked through the woods and collected materials to create moss gardens, planted spider plants & petunias and filled the planters with an array of colorful plants which are now located at the entrance to the school.
Every year the robins build their nests in the wisteria around our yard. The baby robins have hatched and are growing quickly. While sitting in the back yard we watch the mother flying back and forth bringing food for her babies.
The raspberries are loaded and are starting to ripen! This year looks like a higher yield than last. I have 2 varieties planted, one yields end of June - beginning of July and the second variety yields in end of June, end of August and again in beginning of October. I was amazed to get three harvests last year. I think we picked raspberries almost every day from the end of June to the beginning of October. I thinned out some of the runners from the main plants so more energy would go into producing berries (and it looks like it it is working). I have a ton of new plants starting all over the place, some are quite thick and large and I am going to try to pot them up to give away,(I don't like to just throwing them away). The main plants are about 5' tall and they will go into another growth spurt after the first harvest. Last year they grew to over 8' tall. The second and last harvest yields berries the size of your thumb - so sweet and juicy! Now if I could only remember Mema's recipe for raspberry juice!
What are your favorite books, magazines or websites about organic gardening?
I am an avid reader. That's how I learn new gardening techniques. When I am interested in something I usually go to the library or look online and try and get as much information as I can on the subject. There is a lot of information out there, but it usually takes a good amount of effort and time to dig through it all. There are some books that are invaluable to me, that contain a wealth of useful (and more importantly) accurate information. The three top books that I would recommend to anyone would have to be The New Organic Grower, Four-Season Harvest and The Winter Harvest Handbook, all by Eliot Coleman. Out of all the organic gardening books I have read, these have by far been the most helpful. Another great book would have to be Seed to Seed, by Suzanne Ashworth. This book is for anyone who is interested in saving their own seeds. It gives information on all varieties of plants and outlines step by step techniques to dry and save seed properly. I first learned of this book through Seed Savers Exchange , which is an organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom organic seeds that are NON-GMO.
I have a long list of books, magazines, websites, organizations and suppliers that I find very informative and useful. I am going to add a "Resources" column to list them for anyone looking for more information on organic gardening.
The quail have been moved to their new (summer) home in the greenhouse. The greenhouse gets full sun until the end of May when the maple tree gets its leaves. Most of the plants are in the ground now, except for a few eggplant & tomato plants so I figured they would enjoy the fresh air and filtered sun. I have been able to regulate the temperature by using shade covers so the only gets to around 85 degrees in full late afternoon sun. The vents provide nice cross ventilation and the occasional bug for them to snack on. They seem to enjoy it out in the greenhouse!
The garden is finally planted, except for the tomato, eggplant and cantaloupe plants that are growing nicely in the greenhouse. We are expecting strong storms later today and tonight so I am holding off on planting them until tomorrow. Last weekend we planted the rest of the seeds. We put in pumpkins, winter squash, kombucha squash, zucchini, beets, and beans. I took the chives from the greenhouse and planted them in a raised bed that we are turning into our perennial herb garden. The chives were broken up and planted along with 3 types of basil, 2 types of parsley, thyme, rosemary, and sage. I added two tomato plants and 2 fairy tale eggplant plants to the center.
With the warm, summer-like, evening temperatures we hear all kinds of critters chattering at night. Lately we have been serenaded with the sounds of the tree frogs. This little guy was on the tree in our backyard near our pond. Last year one made its way into the greenhouse in the fall and spent the winter nestled down in one of the potted plants.
Spent the last two days planting the gardens. The weather has been beautiful - sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 80's! I uncovered the garden beds a few weeks ago - cleaned off the crushed leaves I put on in the fall and gently cultivated the beds. Yesterday I noticed about 50 tomato plants coming up where the tomatoes were last year! A few tomatoes must have fallen to the ground, and after the winter, leaves and cultivation somehow still managed to grow. The same thing happened with the potatoes. This year I decided not to put in any because they took up too much room last year and I wanted to plant squash and pumpkins in the beds instead. About a dozen plants came up this spring - I must have missed a few potatoes when I harvested in the fall. I left the plants to see if they will yield anything.
The greenhouse has been getting extremely hot during the afternoon. It is covered with plastic film, has a vent on one end and a door on the other, but still gets up to 110 degrees in the afternoon sun. Yesterday I put an exterior sunshade on the north side roof and an interior sunshade on the south that I can roll and unroll to control the temp. I used the shades in the afternoon and kept the temp under 95 degrees. So far it seems
The last of the asparagus has finally been picked for the season. This year we had a very good crop. We harvested it from early spring until just last weekend. The patch was put in about 4 years ago, but I mistakenly cut down all the tiny spears that came up the first year. I didn't know that you are supposed to let some of the spears seed out because it forces more to come up the following year. The stalks should be left until fall when they turn brown, and then cut down to the ground. You are also not supposed to cut heavily until the third year. My asparagus is mulched heavy with leaf mulch which keeps the plants moist and holds down weeds. It is important to keep the weeds at bay so they don't compete with the asparagus. Last year I saved some seeds and am going to try to start more plants. Asparagus is a perennial vegetable, the plants should produce for many years. My asparagus crowns were purchased from Cook's Garden.
The raspberries are coming in nice again this year. I can't wait to taste that first berry of the season! I put in 12 raspberry plants several years ago. They were located on the southern side of my property, next to the garage. The plants grew spindly, never got very tall and produced only a handful of small, sweet raspberries. Three years ago I decided to move the plants to a small space next to the deck. After planting them I cut the canes to waist height and mulched them heavily in the fall with shredded leaves from our maple trees. That first year after moving them, the plants produced raspberries like crazy. I have two varieties planted, one produces in early and late summer, the other produces in mid summer and early fall so we get a steady supply of raspberries. The plants grew to about 5' tall with 1/2" to 3/4" canes. The raspberries were about the size of my thumb and were delicious! I was picking close to 3 pints a day! The first year after moving them I thought it would be a good idea to cover them with mesh to keep the birds out, seeing that it was only a small patch. I put stakes at the corners and covered the entire patch with the bird netting. The plants grew huge and went right through the netting, getting all tangled. It was a nightmare trying to get in to pick the berries. The next year I decided to not use the netting. I didn't really need it as there were so many berries that the few the birds did eat didn't really make a difference, except for the fact that I now have raspberry plants popping up all over the yard from the dropped seeds! The raspberry patch has since grown to about 40 plants!
Welcome to my blog! Here I will be talking about my passion for organic gardening and healthy living. I will document my trials with new products, review books, give information about growing organic vegetables, starting seeds, greenhouses and other useful topics. Hopefully I can inspire others to take the journey into organic gardening!