Archive | May, 2013

Fences Make Good…Bean Plants

29 May

I built a fence. Out of bamboo and twist-ties. I’m so handy.

The beans were flopping over in the wind, so I decided to help them stand upright. I was able to see the bad leaves and pick a few of them off. Now they will happily feed me with purple string beans soon.

About two weeks ago I decided to fill in the spaces in the carrot rings where I didn’t get carrots. Just regular seed, no more tape at this point. I also decided to plant some more green onions. Brought both packets up to the roof (with my cocktail, of course) that evening and went to work. Then I sat back, had my first sip, and realized that I had put the carrots where the onions should be and the onions where the carrots should be. My neighbor, also enjoying a beverage on the roof, asked if I could just switch the seeds. No, no I can’t do that. I figured, just wait and see.

My fears were for unfounded, I was glad to see a few days ago. Both carrots and onions are coming up in their proper spots. Whew!

photo 3 (3)Someone is eating my cucumber leaves. Any ideas? I don’t see anything on the underside of any of the leaves, and I’ve checked at different times of the day, just in case I have a night nosher or something. Also, I’m wearing the latex glove because I had smashed up part of my hand a few days earlier and had it all covered up in super awesome advanced healing bandages. Didn’t want to damage them any more than I needed to.

 

photo 1 (5)And finally, it’s going to be almost 90 degrees here in the DC area by the end of this week. We started off with a thunder storm last night. Great opportunity for me to collect about 24 gallons of water from the roof in my 5 gallon buckets, smaller buckets and watering cans. I also filled up the reservoirs in the containers holding other smaller plants now.

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Uninvited Visitors & Unstinky Compost

23 May

Last Friday afternoon was pretty busy. Had to deal with some guests and some stench.

So, these guys showed up at the same time and pretty much set me off for the day.

What kind of bee is that? Yellowjacket? Or just some scary jerk? I can hear the chewing into the white oak whisky barrel table. Not pleased about that.

The spider was furry…and had orange and blue spots? I have named him Oliver. He may not be with us any longer, as he walked through the white powder. More on that later.

Those aphids were all over the radishes. I did not see them in the morning when I had picked a few, but by the afternoon of this IMG_7679photo…ALL of the radish leaves were covered in them. Not the beans or cucumbers in the same bin, though. Interesting. Must be tastier. Anywhooo…I pulled up all of the radishes at that point. They were ready to be picked, and I had been eating them for a few weeks. Separated the radish from the leaves and tossed the leaves into the horrible smelling watery compost. Would really be disgustingly impossible for anything to survive in there, so as an immediate pesticide solution, I think I did a good job. Then I pickled the radishes.

Farmer Russell recommended I use diatomaceous earth for the aphids, which would essentially dry them out by slicing up their bodies. It’s crushed silica. ShMerin had used it in the past for uninvited guests in her home and seconded the recommendation. No additional pesticides added. She suggested I wear gloves and a dust mask (already had a bunch at home) and use a soft brush to paint the powder on the underside of the leaves. I think I looked pretty snazzy.

NOW, LET’S UNSTINK!

I’d finally given up on the anaerobic composting in the bucket. Why? Smelled like a broken sewage treatment plant, that’s why. Had to convert to “normal” traditional aerobic composting.

There are tons of instructionals here on the interwebs. Basically, I picked up an 18 gallon Sterilite bin from Target (on sale last week, too) for about $6. Drilled holes all over it. Top, bottom, all sides.

Next I had to clean up the compost mixture. I needed a lot more “brown” material, stuff like, oh, hay and rabbit litter. How convenient! I just happen to have a nearly endless supply. Threw in a layer of several full litter boxes of hay and recycled paper litter before dumping in the stinky bucket of wet yuck. Most of the water drained out through the holes so I was able to collect it in one of the larger white buckets. Then I put the whole thing on bricks so it would get some air flow on the bottom, too. Tossed it around a bit, and all done. (I had an extra bucket top on the bottom of the bin to collect extra tea that might seep out so I could add it back to the plants, but after a few days it was collecting too much and was smelling on its own. I’ve removed the “bottom” top and today it’s sitting right on the bricks.)

Some compost pics from the past week. This stays covered all the time. I just toss my food scraps in there. ONLY plant material, no fats or oils at all.

Verdict? Stink is greatly reduced, and as soon as all of the old water is absorbed back into the mix I imagine it will be even better. I already see it starting to break down after about a week in there.

Then I went downstairs and took a shower. I smelled like…well, I needed to take a shower.

Early May Update

14 May

Some updates from the garden….these photos were all taken May 3-12.

Another view….

Radishes are all ready. They are ready to pick at 28 days, so these are all ready to go. I’ve been picking a few every day. Use the leaves in salad and on sandwiches, also. Check out the huge one!

photo 2Also, this kind of smells as if a few dozen large farm animals decided to use the roof as a toilet….all at the same time. It’s quite amazing, really. This is about 4 weeks old now, and everything I’ve read says the smell should go away after about 6-8 weeks. I hope, anyway. Otherwise I probably won’t have any friends over this summer….

Everyone’s awake!

3 May

Happy plants are growing nicely. We had several days of blah weather, constant light rain, which they clearly loved. I’m hoping the tanks are full of water, but I don’t know how to check on that.

My two tomato plants are doing very well. I planted them pretty deep in the soil, as both Farmer Russell and Dave the tomato man said. They both said I could go up to the highest sets of leaves. I planted them just to the halfway point and then piled up more potting mix on top of them because I figured the soil around the hole I dug would settle. Now, a week later, they both look fabulous.

photo 2 (1)

photo 3 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see some wee tiny carrots coming up behind both of them. Now, the carrots went in about two and a half weeks ago. They are supposed to come up at 7-10 days. Even with a few extra days for the cold and to break out of the seed tape I made, I think some of them are not going to happen. I’ll give them another few days, and then I will declare them goners. I’ll reseed next week. Problem is, I don’t know which carrot is which!

Also, one bean didn’t come up. I decided to start one inside in my kitchen. photo 4 (1) This is two days of being wrapped up in wet paper towels. I plan to plant this guy tomorrow morning in the missing bean spot.

Now, let’s talk about compost.

I’m attempting to make compost tea, which is easy to feed to plants in a regular watering. Right now what I have is a big bucket of fart smell, or anaerobic composting. Methane gas emanating from my roof!  You can read all about it here. Basically I’m tossing my fruit and vegetable scraps, along with some plant material and a litter box of rabbit litter w/hay, into one of the 5 gallon buckets and letting it decompose in water. I’m going to start to take off some of the water and mix it in the watering can for the plants. Compost tea! The plants will love it. It’ll only stink for a bit longer.

photo 1 (1)Here are some scraps that I added earlier this week. Banana peels, some spinach that I forgot about in the back of the fridge so it started to stink, a few fuzzy strawberries. Then I gave it a good stir. Also in there are some of the dead plants from earlier years. They will take longer to decompose, but they are kind of acting as a mesh to separate the food from the water a bit. I don’t know if that’s doing any good or not, but at this point I can’t really change it without getting stink all over. They will eventually break down also.

photo 5 (1)

This morning I added a box of litter…paper partially saturated with ammonia-rich rabbit urine, rabbit pellets (which are mostly hay), and rejected timothy hay. Clearly not as tasty. This will make up more of the  “brown” material that’s needed in the composting process. Gave it a stir, then drained the water off and dumped it back on top of the mix. Just thought I’d give it a bit of a toss to help it along. Have I mentioned that it smells to high heaven?

 

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