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Walden Ponderer

2020 Gardening: digging up some new dirt on an old hobby

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Everything is new for me this year.  Like, four acres of a different state kinda new.

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I'm your huckleberry. Well, okay, these are your huckleberries. Vaccinium ovatum, to be precise: evergreen huckleberries. Grow best in full shade.

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Electricity comes on next week, seed potatoes go in the ground, fruit and berry trees and bushes over the next two months, and God only knows what'll happen after that. Hell, I've still gotta find time to build a new chicken coop, too. PARTAAAY!

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You'd better be updating this motherfucker regularly with pictures.

I'm still trying to get the fortitude to put a small garden in our backyard. 

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What are you guys in CenTex putting in the ground right now? I didn't do anything in terms of a winter garden but so far my strawberries and peppers made it through the "winter" and hopefully will be doing something good around spring. I'm going to give tomatoes a try again this year in a few months and maybe just try and get some herbs going over the next month.

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I'm sitting this year out.  Putting in a pool and guest house, so my backyard is a wreck and my water is shut off to the garden.  I haz a sad.

On the plus side, I'm going to go ahead and go full underground irrigation in the garden when we re-do the lawn and landscape irrigation in the back.  So, I got that going for me.  Which is nice.

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Gonna go with Jalapenos, Bell Peppers, Cherry Tomatoes, and Beefsteak Tomatoes this year. I bought some Topsy Turvy's because I've read that peppers do well in them. We'll see. Started some seedlings in the south facing window of my home office that have all sprouted. Honestly I should've started these in November as long as it's taken them to sprout. If they aren't big enough by Spring Break I'll go ahead and buy a few smaller plants to get going. 

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"Before." In two months roughly an acre will be a fruit and nut orchard, with herbs, veggies, and bee forage in the alleys. I don't expect a lot out of the soil this year, so I will be going heavy on beans and blooming nitrogen-affixers. Gonna take a year or two to break up this thick yellow clay.

20200126_153401.jpg

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Garden is going to expand from one raised and one in-ground to one large raised bed.
I use the Ruth Stout style and I've got a bunch of used goat hay composting getting ready to be used this spring.
Will be doing the usual of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers for slicing and pickling, strawberries, beans and okra.

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On 1/24/2020 at 11:37 PM, NorthLoop said:

Gonna go with Jalapenos, Bell Peppers, Cherry Tomatoes, and Beefsteak Tomatoes this year. I bought some Topsy Turvy's because I've read that peppers do well in them. We'll see. Started some seedlings in the south facing window of my home office that have all sprouted. Honestly I should've started these in November as long as it's taken them to sprout. If they aren't big enough by Spring Break I'll go ahead and buy a few smaller plants to get going. 

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planning on (2) 20' raised beds and (1) 10' raised bed

new irrigation line ran for independent garden only use from the well.

tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, eggplant, etc.

Next year I'll make covers for the raised beds to act as greenhouses for earlier planting.

I will spend less than $100 for everything this year and it will provide $1000 worth of produce 

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We’ve gone from 100 acres in East Texas to 1/5 acre in New Braunfels, so we’ve had to downscale to say the least. Presently we’ve got four 6 x 2 raised beds plus some planters on shelves I mounted on the privacy fence. About to harvest the last of the winter garden (broccoli, cabbage and collared greens) and put some tomato plants and onions in last week. We’ve got cilantro, mint, oregano,etc. in the planters.

Not anywhere on the scale of other operations, but I’d probably go nuts if I couldn’t get my hands in the dirt once in awhile 

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On 1/23/2020 at 5:18 PM, Walden Ponderer said:

... Like, four acres of a different state kinda new. ...

Property looks very nice.  Congrats.  I'd love to have space like that to experiment with an aquaculture greenhouse.

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On 1/26/2020 at 2:49 PM, Walden Ponderer said:

"Before." In two months roughly an acre will be a fruit and nut orchard, with herbs, veggies, and bee forage in the alleys. I don't expect a lot out of the soil this year, so I will be going heavy on beans and blooming nitrogen-affixers. Gonna take a year or two to break up this thick yellow clay.

20200126_153401.jpg

I'm so excited for updates. I love to watch a garden from start to finish. In your area can you grow raspberries? My husband grew up in the midwest with lots of fruit plants that his dad had planted and they had rows of raspberries. They don't grow well here in south central Texas apparently and dang those suckers are expensive in the stores but I splurge when they are on sale. They also had blueberries, an apricot tree, plums, apples, etc. besides all the veggies.

 

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5 minutes ago, Mrs Whiggins said:

I'm so excited for updates. I love to watch a garden from start to finish. In your area can you grow raspberries? My husband grew up in the midwest with lots of fruit plants that his dad had planted and they had rows of raspberries. They don't grow well here in south central Texas apparently and dang those suckers are expensive in the stores but I splurge when they are on sale. They also had blueberries, an apricot tree, plums, apples, etc. besides all the veggies.

We can, but I'm not sure I've got a good spot for them. Direct sunlight is at a premium, so most of that is going to be for veggies.

Evergreen huckleberries, on the other hand, grow best in the shade. I've already put in 10 plants, each of which should grow into a bush a good 8' high and 5-6' across. And blackberries, of course, grow wild here. 

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Well, if sunlight is sparse, then I certainly understand. Look forward to watching the garden developments. We have a pretty small backyard and garden so I enjoy seeing what others are able to do and grow. There are some real green thumbs around here!

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SkeletalBronzeAcornwoodpecker-size_restricted.gif
planning on (2) 20' raised beds and (1) 10' raised bed
new irrigation line ran for independent garden only use from the well.
tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, eggplant, etc.
Next year I'll make covers for the raised beds to act as greenhouses for earlier planting.
I will spend less than $100 for everything this year and it will provide $1000 worth of produce 
That's weird. I usually put in $1000 worth and only get out $100.

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Not really gardening, but I saw a mountain laurel blooming already on Monday.

Edited by miguelito

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On 1/29/2020 at 10:54 PM, miguelito said:

Not really gardening, but I saw a mountain laurel blooming already on Monday.

Plenty of redbuds blooming here this week.

And my huckleberries, too, now that you mention blooming.

 

20200204_093312.jpg

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Here in Austin, I hesitate to put out tomatoes this year.  Before two years ago, I had tomatoes out the ass.  It wasn't until mid August that they started burning off.  The last two years they grow and fruit like crazy until mid June when they start turning yellow and croaking.  It's like they aren't getting enough water, but that is not the case.  

Anyone else experiencing this?

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Tomato flowers won't set if the lows exceed the low 70s. Depends on the variety for the exact number. If you can keep them shaded and moist and the weather is right you can get fruit on and off all summer.

Turning yellow and dying back can also be spider mites

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1 hour ago, SydneyCarton said:

@Walden Ponderer Update motherfucker. 

We're expecting an inch or two of snow tomorrow. I have cleared out one shed, and in doing so, uncovered a lovely plot for herbs and maybe a few tomato and pepper plants, but it's still three weeks away from me even contemplating putting anything in the ground. I will definitely be roto-tilling the next few weekends, though. I only plan to do that for a couple of seasons, by the way -- once I get the top 6-8" of clay loosened up some, I should be able to manage some high quality tilth by adding chicken-poop based compost on a monthly basis.

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That forest looks haunted.

 

I have a Mexican lime tree in a big pot.  It has a ton of blossoms on it right now.  What do I do to keep them from falling off?  In the past I've done nothing to it, and most of the blossoms fell off.  I'm bad about fertilizing - is that the answer?

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Anyone have experience with plum trees?  4 years ago I planted 2 peach trees and 2 plum trees... Peach trees have done great and throw fruit that I can harvest if I can beat the squirrels to them. (on another note, what's the best pellet gun to take out a squirrel but not cause damage to the neighbors house 50 yards past the peach trees?)

The plum trees haven't done squat (same watering, even more sun than peach trees)...barely grown, no blossoms.  Did I get 2 of the same sex trees?  How do you determine the sex of a tree? (no homo)

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Any ideas for a shrub for a small flower bed in Houston?  My issue is that it's 100% shade this time of year because of the configuration of the patio homes on our street.  It will be full sun during the summer after about 11:00 a.m.  The Loropetalums that are planted there now do not do well.  

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On 2/21/2020 at 4:42 PM, HouTex said:

Any ideas for a shrub for a small flower bed in Houston?  My issue is that it's 100% shade this time of year because of the configuration of the patio homes on our street.  It will be full sun during the summer after about 11:00 a.m.  The Loropetalums that are planted there now do not do well.  

I'd go with Lantana. Hardier than you want it to be; impossible to kill, in fact. 

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...and one week out from being shins-deep in snow, everything has burst out into yellow flower. Daffodils and Forsythia everywhere. Some was probably planted on purpose; a lot of it is just growing wild, though, like this bush:

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Still a month or so out from any tender plants (tomatoes, peppers, etc.), but I put a bunch of cilantro and other cold-hardy herb seeds out this morning. Lots of spinach, broccoli, etc., too. Last frost here is usually the first week of April, so I will definitely be starting "big" planting later than I'm used to starting. On the other hand, the overnight lows will be in the 60s all summer long, so I will be growing salsa from May through October.

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Your HEB Plus should have nice tomatoes for $1.50 each, I've started 10 of them, buried deep in half gallon pots so I can bring them in when the T gets below 40.

I planted 3 Arapaho thornless blackberry bushes, 12 collard greens and 42 potato plants two weeks ago 

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59 minutes ago, 4th and 5 said:

Your HEB Plus should have nice tomatoes for $1.50 each, I've started 10 of them, buried deep in half gallon pots so I can bring them in when the T gets below 40.

I'll be going this route as I started about 50 seedlings, half peppers and half tomatoes. The peppers are doing great, but not a single tomato made it. 

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1 hour ago, 4th and 5 said:

Your HEB Plus should have nice tomatoes for $1.50 each, I've started 10 of them, buried deep in half gallon pots so I can bring them in when the T gets below 40.

I planted 3 Arapaho thornless blackberry bushes, 12 collard greens and 42 potato plants two weeks ago 

15e3741c760b193e264916944606.gif

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10 hours ago, NorthLoop said:

I'll be going this route as I started about 50 seedlings, half peppers and half tomatoes. The peppers are doing great, but not a single tomato made it. 

Pretty much the same here. I used the same seed starter kit as last year, but no bueno

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Here's an interesting way to grow cucumbers if you don't have space in a garden or just want to do it on your patio. 

 

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On 2/27/2020 at 5:42 PM, Walden Ponderer said:

Hardier than you want it to be; impossible to kill, in fact. 

It's the Shaka of shrubbery

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The tomato seedlings I started are coming along and going in this week. The cuke (only one has made it thus far from old seed, but I am starting anew with fresh seed this week) that survived will go out in a couple of weeks. Everything else is herbs this year probably as I've only got dill and parsley and basil but I may pick up some transplants of peppers, etc. Haven't had as much energy this spring to really get out and play in the dirt.

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Posted (edited)

So, anybody else's gardening plans taking a different shape now that the pandemic has hit?

I hadn't planned on doing potatoes, for example, but now I'm probably putting in a good 150 sq feet worth. Hadn't planned on corn, either, but I'll undoubtedly plant several rows of it now. More squash and melons, too, for the same reason.

source.gif

Edited by Walden Ponderer

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Doing pretty much same this year as the past couple.  Cheating with some of it (tomato/pepper).  Went to HEB today and got a few varietals of tomato plants, pepper plants, and some basil.  Onion sets went in a few weeks ago, coming along fine.  Cilantro and parsley seeded a couple months ago thriving.  Lettuce from seeds doing ok, not great.  Probably will not make it much longer.  Carrot tops look weak, might just pull them in the next couple weeks and go with more tomato and pepper, maybe do okra.

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I have a final seed order arriving this week (barring unforeseen complications due to closures) but I will make note of that one. I've got one Celebrity and one cherry tomato hybrid (Baxter's? I can't recall the name). I don't have space for more unless I can convince husband to give up some more lawn space. Especially since I have eggplant seeds ordered.

The peas are doing great though. I hope I can harvest before it gets too warm.

Many of you are veggie gardeners, but I love flowers. They make me smile. Here's a sample of what's growing and/or blooming in my yard currently:

The bluebonnets are blooming and so is the verbena (red) so it is a treat for the eyes. I'm not super good at planning color but managed to accidentally get a purple, red, and white area that has turned out quite nicely. Next to the plants above there is a Dutch Iris, a grouping of Hyacinths (white), and a purple Scabiosa. About the time the bulbs die back the white roses and the John Fannick phlox will be picking up steam. Also, the cuphea (cigar plant) should also be beginning to bloom.

In the section I have for annuals, the cabbages, kale and chard will be ripped out soon. I'll cook the chard, but the rest are ornamental. I have some petunia and balloonflower seedlings that will drop into that spot. Balloonflower has been hit or miss for me due to the location, (further north, my late mother used to grow large groupings of them) but the plant is so whimsical I love to grow them so I sprout the seeds and treat it as an annual. They are expensive at the big box store so this is a good compromise. There are other plants. perennial lantana, roses that were pruned, almond verbena for example, that are coming along but aways from blooming.

The milkweed that I chopped down has new growth and tons of caterpillars chomping away. I counted three on one plant yesterday. I have been watching for any on my dill, but no luck so far. I'll be putting in zinnias and sunflowers soon and I can't wait. The butterflies and bees are such a joy.

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Killing time with a backyard makeover. Long overdue, needed to take down a trampoline that the kids hadn't used in years. Dug out a 20'x15x4" spot and put down decomposed granite. Currently working on building these cedar and corrugated metal raised beds for a couple of vegetable gardens. Then I'll tackle the beds and grass. It's been nice to be working outside and getting away from the current distractions.75115584fd60379fa3781a93a7fbce30.jpgfb7d425e883e716c7de4c7c3abd58821.jpg4bb4ed6347ff745b730a1319c3e34f97.jpg0a82524b4acc428408123aad2e987727.jpg718a38c86bdcd24d9049ee73b992c026.jpgbcb4b777f037a70f669bdcb9d4b85a7d.jpg

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Wow, that looks great! Have to admit, I'm not sure my muscles could handle that much. I've been drafting the young people to do the heavy lifting this year. My spouse is busy with the COVID prep at work so he is too wiped out, but it has been nice to be outside with my youngest.

I'm at war with the squirrel who is after the strawberries. I have netting but it is smarter than the average squirrel. It also seems to think the plant pots are for  personal digging enjoyment. I have barricaded the tomato transplants so it cannot get to those pots, but I am considering ordering a slingshot so I can discourage its behavior.

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14 hours ago, Irwin F Fletcher said:

Killing time with a backyard makeover. Long overdue, needed to take down a trampoline that the kids hadn't used in years. Dug out a 20'x15x4" spot and put down decomposed granite. Currently working on building these cedar and corrugated metal raised beds for a couple of vegetable gardens. Then I'll tackle the beds and grass. It's been nice to be working outside and getting away from the current distractions.75115584fd60379fa3781a93a7fbce30.jpgfb7d425e883e716c7de4c7c3abd58821.jpg4bb4ed6347ff745b730a1319c3e34f97.jpg0a82524b4acc428408123aad2e987727.jpg718a38c86bdcd24d9049ee73b992c026.jpgbcb4b777f037a70f669bdcb9d4b85a7d.jpg

I'm glad to see corrugated metal is ok to use because I have a ton of it.

Do I need to put a liner between it and the dirt?

Looks great.

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I want to do something similar for my next compost pile.  I have some old metal panels that should work well for that.  Just picture what Irwin did, but shittier quality workmanship.

 

Irwin, are you going to get enough sun in that spot?  Looks like you have some nice big trees there.

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I am a little concerned about how much sunlight will get through. They are under a large Elm tree and we also have two Elm trees on the west side of the yard. I've been trying to thin out the canopy as much as I can, still have some work to do on that today. Right now I'd say that the area gets partial sunlight for at least 6-7 hours, definitely not full sun which I'd prefer. 

 

I'll be curious on how the Elm tree that is above the planters does as we hacked out a large portion of its roots clearing the area for the decomposed granite base. 

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Finished up the top trim on the raised beds and got both started with vegetables/herbs. Also started to make three tapered planters for container growing some citrus trees.4baa4f8cfdabf75952ddd95050759cf6.jpg7298a5eddad7a7bfbc11045c3e05fa82.jpgd0fa36d6a411c1677499203ceb3bb9da.jpg29fabeab0cb1b18d259dedaec096327f.jpg

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Arbor Day Foundation order arrived, a couple of weeks early. I had intended to prep a whole lot more before putting in my fruit trees. I need probably three yards of compost. Gonna have to break isolation to do it; I can just hear the conversation with my doctor: "Why'd you go out in the middle of an epidemic?" "For a load of shit."

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11 hours ago, Walden Ponderer said:

Arbor Day Foundation order arrived, a couple of weeks early. I had intended to prep a whole lot more before putting in my fruit trees. I need probably three yards of compost. Gonna have to break isolation to do it; I can just hear the conversation with my doctor: "Why'd you go out in the middle of an epidemic?" "For a load of shit."

If you need a little time to perhaps see about delivery instead of going out, maybe read this article and see if it would be pertinent for you. It has some advice for if you need to delay planting for awhile including longer than ten days.

https://www.starkbros.com/growing-guide/article/how-to-delay-planting

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