Today We made it out into the garden to harvest kale. It was a muddy mess but we’ve got a mess a fresh kale ready to start putting in the freezer. The 3 inches of rain we received in 24 hours made a muddy mess but didn’t damage the crops in the raised Mittlieder beds.
In the span of 9 days we’ve captured 3 free swarms of honey bees in swarm traps. Today we moved this last swarm out of the trap and into the hive we had setup for them. This particular trap holds 4 deep frames, of which two are fully drawn comb.
My brother had two honey bee swarm trap out on his property and both of them had bees in them this week when he checked them. He covered the entrance holes to the swarm traps last night with screen and brought them to my house today. We are excited to have the amazing little pollinators here at the house. Here are a few pictures.
We now have 32 Georgia Jets sweet potato slips in our 4′ X 15′ grow box. I’ve never knowingly eaten one before but wanted to give them a try. This is also our first year growing any sweet potato in a grow box with a sand and sawdust growing medium. Last year digging potatoes in the heavy clay soil was a lot like work. This year it should be so easy.
I’m still working on clearing the grass and weeds around the grow box. When finished there will be a bare dirt border 5 feet from the box. By doing this it helps keep insects away from our vegetables. It also helps keep weeds from getting into the grow box and competitimg with the vegetables for the water and fertilizers as well as space and light.
We’ve been enjoying fresh kale on our sandwiches for lunch the past few days. It has been amazing. It’s far enough along now that we can harvest a mess of it for an actual meal. We’ve discussed a white beans and kale but haven’t decided. Kale is in the grow bed on the left.
We are a little short on room for growing all our vertical crops and decided to put in two more of the 30 foot long by 18 inch wide Mittleider grow beds. These grow beds will run north and south. To the west side of these two beds there will be a couple more grow beds for additional crops that won’t be grown vertically.
For grow beds/boxes that run east and west you want to put the tall crops to the north end so they don’t shadow out the shorter crops. For beds running north and south you’ll want those same tall crops to the east for the same reason.
Below you will see the garden area that’s been tilled and read to get started in the first picture. There will be a 5 foot wide buffer zone on the outside edge of our Mittleider garden with a 3.5 foot space between each 18″ wide bed. The portion of the garden to the right that has grass in it will be tilled several times and all that grass will be removed.
Here you see the t-posts going in that will form the support for our vertical gardening. They’re being placed every 10 feet, or 4 of these 4x4s in each 30 foot grow bed. Once the second grow bed t-posts are in place we will put another 8 foot long 4×4 on top to span the distance between each row.
UPDATE 20 May 2016 –
Just a couple pictures of more progress. We need to tamp the posts in a little more as it dries out a little. The support wires for both of the grow beds under this structure are up and tight. One of the two grow beds is formed up and will be finished tomorrow. Once done we’ve got another 18 tomatoes ready to go in the ground.
After this project is done we will continue to extend the grow beds to the right for a few other crops that are currently in seedling flats. Just like in our grow box for sweet potatoes, there will be a 5 foot border around these grow beds to help control insects and weeds.
Last night I had finished outside for the day and had come in to call it a day and sort out dinner. Half way through the task of taking off my boots I heard a noise outside that I couldn’t easily recognize. Upon reaching the back door the investigate I saw this red fox 20 feet from the door.
Since all our chickens were already killed I went and grabbed the video camera instead of the shotgun. There is some great video of it using its amazing hearing to try and locate a meal. The kissing sound you hear towards the end of the video mimmicked a rodent distress sound. It had heard me move and ran off. I was able to get it to come back with that sound.
The tomatoes are transplanted into our little Mittleider in garden green house. Recently we started the process of growing vertically to maximize the space and production of tomatoes. In the picture below you will see the heavy square baling twine we use to grow vertically.
All the tomatoes are grown in one row with 9 inches of space between them. The twine is tied off at the bottom on a wire attached to our t-posts. The wire runs the length of the grow box and is 3 1/2″ above the grow box. At the top of the t-posts are two more heavy gauge wires running the length of the grow beds. We then alternate every other tomato plant and use a releasing knot to train the tomatoes to grow away from one another and maximize space. This ensure they get maximum air and sunlight. In this picture below you can see the “V” pattern formed with the twine. You’ll also notice extra twine hanging from the top. This allows me to lower the plant as we pick all the tomatoes from the bottom and the plant has grown all the way to that top wire. And if you do your part they will grow that tall.
In the bottom picture you see where the twine is tied to the bottom heavy gauge wire. If you tie the twine to the tomato plant you risk damaging it in two ways. As the tomato grows the stem is going to get thicker. If your twine is tied to it you risk the chance of strangling the tomato. Additionally, if you’re tied off at the plant you risk damaging or even pulling out the tomato if something or someone pulls on the twine.
When wrapping the twine It’s important to wrap the twine around the plant and not the plant around the twine. By doing the later you risk damaging your tomato plant. Also, as you wrap towards the top take extra care not to damage or break off the growing rip, also known as the terminal bud. Doing so I’ll stop the growth of your plant. I stop sever inches short of the terminal bud to ensure that the twine doesn’t damage it.
You can also grow other crops vertically such as crooked neck squash, eggplants, cucumbers and even melons. We will have posts on growing the vertically in the future.
Just as we are transplanting tomatoes in the garden they’re beging to set fruit. The idea of a fresh picked tomato right out of the garden sounds amazing. I am anxiously awaiting that first picked tomato of the year.
Our quest to be self reliant and grow a healthy garden