Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dianne's Journey - Raised Bed Update

Hi Suzanne,

Just thought I'd give you an update on the raised beds. I was harvesting things up until the first of the year, and then it really slowed down until the last week or so. Now I am getting carrots, mustard greens, collards, lettuce, spinach and parsnips. Other things growing in bed #1 are kohlrabi, beets, kale, brussels sprouts and tatsoi (Asian green).

(I'm printing this personal note in green because that's the color I am right now, with envy!)

I have never been able to grow spinach before. This spinach was planted in December, but was soaked overnight in plain water. There seemed to be 100% germination, and I was so pleased. My soil is much better than a year ago, or even six months ago, so I suspect this had something to do with improved germination in addition to the soaking.

Speaking of improved soil, I must tell you about my worms! I have 'em. Last spring I had no noticeable worm population. All summer long whenever I spied a worm in the flowerbed, he went into the raised bed. This fall when the okra and tomatoes were done, I cut them off at ground level and left the roots in the ground. This spring when I cleared out a section to sow seeds, the roots were all entwined with worms. So after this, whenever practical, I will be leaving the roots in the ground. I am now tossing worms into bed #2, which so far has been planted with onions, snow peas and fava beans. I plan on getting a cattle panel for the peas to climb on.  

Garden during a snowfall and low 20's with the Agribon row cover and additional plastic cover.
By the way, re the row cover support…you do not need to space the PVC so close together. In fact, I may remove every other one and put them on bed #2 next winter. I slightly overdid this. Reminds me of a whale skeleton. If you lived in an area with lots of heavy snow the closer spacing would be preferred.

The status last week with onions planted in bed #2.
I planted 6 Brussels sprout plants late last August, and all but one had succumbed to the heat and bugs by the fall. I was tempted to pull it up all winter because it looked so bad…glad I didn't.

The lone surviving Brussels sprout is now thriving
 The beets planted late last summer did not do well. Lots of nice green tops though, so I cooked the tops along with the teeny tiny beets. I planted some beet seeds two weeks ago (having been soaked overnight), and they are already sending up strong shoots. I believe I will have a better crop with the improved soil.

Beets--taste and beauty make up for quantity??
One of many collard harvests this winter
I made vegetable enchiladas and was able to include some garden produce--spinach and cilantro fresh from the garden, and jalapeƱos that I had put in the freezer last summer. I love it when I can go outside and pick things instead of going to the grocery store.

Recipe using garden ingredients (excluding tortilla!)
Suzanne, I have been so encouraged with how things are going. I know there will be problems when the bugs and heat hit, but for now I am basking in success. Again, in the words of that famous gardener…."ain't God good."


(Note:  to see how Dianne started and has been progressing, enter "Dianne's Journey" in the search box on the right.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Garden Serenity

As we move into the "heavy lifting" part of the gardening year, it's important to keep our eye on the prize.  Each of us has our own idea of what the prize is.  For me it's a serene and calming place to sit - at any time of the day - and read, think, be.

Now, I'm well aware that this beautiful place doesn't just appear!  Maybe you're lucky enough to have lots of help, but around my house the planning, the supervision, and most of the work is done by yours truly.  So I like to motivate myself by keeping a picture in my mind of how great it's going to be.

You're probably familiar with Pinterest and Houzz by now, right?  Oh my goodness, I could waste, er, invest hours looking through the photos and ideas on these sites.

Don't you love the photo above?  It's from an article on Houzz about the beauty of enclosed gardens, indoors and out.

Do you remember this feature from one of the gardens in last year's Through Our Garden Gates tour?  This is a space that runs along the side of this MG's back yard.  They built an additional fence about 10 feet away from the boundary fence and created this lovely and restful walkway.  Such a great idea!

And let's not forget our garden views.  If you can't create an enclosed garden in your yard, create a comfortable place in your home, maybe a porch or by a window with a garden view, to sit and enjoy the fruits of your hard labor.  Like this:

Or this:

I'm starting to think about my own small deck and garden and how I can up the serenity factor this year.  Memphis is soooo hot and the bugs are soooo annoying that we limit our outdoor time after about mid-June.  How do you cope with Memphis heat/bugs?  I need help.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

PAR Davies - 2-20-13

Good morning everyone,

It was a very chilly workday, so we had to keep moving to keep warm and got a lot done. Those present were G.A., Cathy, Susan, Carol and myself.

Susan and G.A. finished planting the bush peas in Bed 12 and then planted the collard seedlings in Bed 14. G.A. also finished up planting the Yukon Golds behind the potato towers. Cathy, Carol and I planted the pear trees, and Cathy put another layer of top soil on the lasagna bed. 

Susan and G. A. planting collards

Cathy and Carol thinned out the big kale bed and fertilized in the hopes of getting a spring crop.

Carol fertilizing the kale

G.A. and Susan spread cardboard and newspaper along the fence to smother the weeds. Pam brought a typewriter to sit on top of the file cabinets…it is a sight to behold. I could kick myself for not taking a picture, but will get one next week. We know that the metal file cabinets will cook most things we try to plant in the summer time, except for maybe some sedum. We have decided to use it mostly for storing our gardening tools to keep them handy and out of the weather, and plant something in the top drawers if it will survive the heat.

Radishes peeking through

The first row of radishes we planted are starting to peek their heads out. They will definitely need to be thinned next week. The radish seeds were 3 years old, but the germination rate is still very high. 

I'd like to get one or two of those little handy seed sowers that Pam brought last week to make it easier to sow the smaller seeds. Has anyone seen one of these locally so we don't have to get online?

Our beautiful lettuce
We couldn't harvest the lettuce because it was still a little stiff, but if it is warmer next workday we will get some lettuce and cilantro to take to the shelter. I just had to take a picture of our beautiful lettuce for all to see. We have been harvesting this since last fall (planted late August), and has been under the row cover on nights when we had a forecast of freezing temps. Our winter gardening experiment has definitely been a success!

Last week Pam brought a really neat garden tote. We discovered it was actually a tool caddy, but if you didn't see the word 'Craftsman' on it, you wouldn't think it was. It is THE PERFECT GARDEN TOTE--very well made with all the handy pockets and slots. These can be found at Sears in the Tool Dept. for $12.99. They come in several different color combinations, including solid black, and even pink for the ladies.

This is such a great deal I just had to share it with you all. What is even better, Suzanne Allen, blog facilitator, is going to have one as a blog giveaway. I don't know what you have to do to get it, but if you don't end up with it, Sears is the place to go. BTW, be sure to be checking the blog--you might get lucky.

'Til later.


P. S. from Suzanne:  This giveaway is for MAMG interns only.  (No whining, we'll do others during the year!)  Sometime in the next two weeks, the words "pink tote" will appear somewhere in the blog post.  When you see the words, leave a comment telling us why you need this tote soooo bad!   The PAR Davies team will decide the winner.   

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Winter School 2013 - The Leadership Track

The second day of Winter School is called the Leadership Track.  This year we had several speakers who talked about leadership qualities and challenged us to discover and nurture those qualities in ourselves and in others.

From Dr. Chris Cooper, Ph.D. - Interim Coordinator of the Tennessee Master Gardener Program

1.       Leadership is everyone’s business (leadership is a set of skills and abilities that are accessible and learnable by anyone who has motivation and desire to learn it)
2.       Credibility is the foundation (people want leaders who are credible, people need to believe in their leaders)
3.       Personal values drive commitment (personal values clarity is essential to commitment)
4.       You either lead by example, or you don’t lead at all (the only way people know we value something is when they see it in action)
5.       Looking forward is a leadership must (people expect leaders to have a sense of direction and a concern for the future of the organization)
6.       It’s not just the leaders vision (leaders inspire a shared vision)
7.       Challenges provides the opportunity for greatness (leadership and challenge are simply inseparable)
8.       Leaders are team players (leaders can’t do it alone)
9.       Leadership is a relationship (leadership is a relationship between those who choose to lead and those who choose to follow)
10.   Caring is at the heart of leadership (high hopes leads to high performance)
From Dr. Robert Burns, Ph.D., P. E. - Assistant Dean and Professor, Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Resource Development

1.  Leaders are honest, with themselves and with others.
2.  Leaders give freely of their time and resources.
3.  Leaders listen to others.
4.  Leaders are dependable:  reliability is more important than ability.
5.  Leaders are positive!!!
6.  Leaders serve others - they remove barriers to mission success.
7.  Leaders couple criticism with a possible solution
8.  Leaders recognize that perfect is the enemy of good.

From Doug Hilton, Emeritus Advocate UT Master Gardener on "Identifying Leaders"

Look for:
   1.  Past leadership experience
   2.  Capacity to catch or create a vision
   3.  Someone who feels the thrill of a challenge
   4.  Someone with a constructive spirit of discontent
   5.  Someone not locked into the status quo
   6.  Someone  who either has practical ideas or can recognize them
   7.  Has the "completion factor"
   8.  Has mental toughness
   9.  Has peer and family respect
10.  Has that quality that makes people listen to them
       Ask:   what will this person do to be liked?
                   does this person have destructive weakness?
                   can I provide this person the environment to succeed?

Doug based his talk on an article written by Memphis' own Fred Smith, which you can find here.

What about it?  Are you a leader?  Do you have leadership potential?  If you think so, don't hide your light under a basket!  Volunteer to take charge of something!  It's fun to be the leader!