Strawberry Bounty – an unexpected surprise

I posted earlier about my new strawberry bed, which has suddenly started producing large, sweet strawberries! I pinched all the flowers after planting the starts so that the plants would concentrate on growing instead of producing fruit, so I figured I wouldn’t get a crop this year. Then, the plants struggled for a few weeks and are now producing fruit and sending out lots of runners. The great thing about the runners is that the plants are happy and healthy enough to send them out, so next years crop will be bigger. The way to handle runners, I read online, Continue Reading →

Summer garden bliss helps with the blues

My big veggie garden has exploded this summer, probably due to the fact that I set up the automatic watering to water three times a day for short periods. I think I have finally found the right formula for my climate. I was away for two weeks visiting family so naturally the weeds are doing great as well! I’m slowly catching up on the weeding, though. The new strawberry bed and new blueberry bed are both doing well. I may actually get a small crop of strawberries this year after all. I pinched off all the flowers so the plants Continue Reading →

My new best friend

My new best friend is a gardening tool – sad but true! I originally got it to dig up dandelions but I quickly realized that I had too many dandelions in my yard to ever be able to dig them all up, so I gave up. So, this tool has languished in my garden shed for a few years and I brought it out to help with the quackgrass infestation in my raspberries, which I posted about previously. Well! I never expected it to work so well. I just shove it down in the dirt, wiggle it around a bit Continue Reading →

The raspberries stand alone

That is to say, the raspberries want to stand alone. I read years ago that raspberries don’t like competition from weeds, and this year I’m finally understanding what that means. A few areas of my raspberry patch don’t thrive as well as the rest. These areas have been infested with quackgrass, which is a fast-growing grass that forms a thick bed of roots and spreads via long runners. After a few years of inadequate weeding in the raspberry patch, the quackgrass has now taken over in some spots. I started weeding those areas, trying to get a handle on the Continue Reading →

Gardening highs and lows

It’s only April and it’s already been a year of gardening ups and down. On the plus side, I’ve built my new strawberry bed, enclosed all my beds in one big fence, and I finally built a composter from old pallets, which I’ve been wanting to try for years. I just used long zip ties to tie together four square pallets. The advantage here is that the slatted sides will provide air flow. The disadvantage is that this is not the type of setup that produces compost every six weeks. I’ve always wanted an enclosed tumbling composter, but most of Continue Reading →

A weekend in the garden

Yesterday we picked up a truckload of cow poo compost from a local organic dairy. We’ve used this compost for several years and have really good success, and the more of it that I add to my veggie bed the better my garden becomes. If I had the strength and energy, I’d add eight truckloads to properly amend the soil in that bed, but that’s a bit much even for me. I basically need to double the volume of the bed using soil amendments to have optimal soil, and I’ll get there eventually but it might take a few more Continue Reading →

Starting Seeds – A sign of spring

It was pretty warm here in Montana today (50 degrees) so I started getting really excited about my gardens again. I went so far as to start some seeds for my lettuce/spinach garden, which is located at the back of my house in a part shade/part sun spot. I planted lettuce there for the first time last year, along with strawberries, and the lettuce did great but the strawberries not so much. So this year, it will be lettuce and spinach, and I’m moving the strawberries out into the pasture in a new bed (which has yet to be constructed). Continue Reading →

Garden soil amendments

Over the years I’ve learned a lot about gardening, and one of the more important things I’ve learned is about improving the soil in my garden. We live on a glacial river bed, so our soil is mostly rocks. For that reason, all of my garden beds are raised beds that have been created with soil that has been trucked in. My big flower bed isn’t raised, but we had the area dug out and then trucked in soil. The only problem with bringing in soil is that you don’t really know what you’re getting. What tends to be available Continue Reading →

Dreaming of Spring

We’ve had 45 degree weather lately and everything is melting, so it got me to thinking about what I want to do with my big veggie garden this year. Last year was my best veggie garden ever, yet there’s room for improvement. This is my garden layout, which includes asparagus, tomatoes, zucchini, peas, beans, onions and kale. I will probably plant some garlic and radish in between plants for pest control. Last year I did this same layout with the addition of basil and peppers next to the tomatoes. Those two plants didn’t do very well, and I think it Continue Reading →

Zucchini Blossom End Rot

I learned something new in my garden this year. All of my zucchini plants (11 of them!) had several zucchini at a time that were half-grown with one end (the blossom end) rotting off. When two other people mentioned to me that they had the same thing happening, I immediately got on the computer to look it up. It turns out that Blossom End Rot is caused by a calcium deficiency in the soil. So, once the plants are growing and the ends of the zucchini are rotting, it’s too late to add calcium to the soil. At that point, Continue Reading →