Springtime update

I’ve been getting a little behind on the blog posts so I am going to merge a couple planned blog posts into one in an attempt to catch up.

The seedlings are off to a great start and I used the Wyze Cam to capture a time lapse video of the stretching and dancing of the plants under the florescent lights.

The video was made with an image captured once every second and then the resulting video was sped up by 2 times.

I found it interesting to see all the motion of the plants. Especially the two kale seedlings fall over at 0:36 and 0:55. It is also neat to see the change in behavior between ‘day’ and ‘night’.

Okay, next topic…

A few posts ago I talked about how even though I tried to replace all the problematic raised beds last year so I wouldn’t have to do any major repairs this spring, I still have repairs that need to be made.

A couple weekends ago the weather was pretty nice so I dug in and patched up the bed.

Rotten cedar board
Rotten cedar board

Not sure if this is normal with cedar, but I was expecting it would hold up a bit better. After looking at the soil side of the boards, I noticed some evidence of insect and worm damage.

Wondering if it could be worms that caused my issues

A few different kind of worms were present.

Another set of tiny worms

So, what to do about it. I didn’t really want to spend more money on the garden this spring. In the end, I decided to cheat a bit on the repair. I took the boards out and flipped them around so that the weathered outside of the boards were on the inside. I then used some of the salvaged 2×2 stakes from the old repairs last fall and used them to brace up the corners… again. I really wanted to be done with those 2x2s.

I really was hoping to be done with those 2×2 braces
Outside in and inside out

As much as I didn’t want to use the 2x2s again, they do really seem to be working out. Fingers crossed that this will hold up for this year.

Another view of the rotten side out
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Sprouts and destruction

This post will be part good news and part bad.

Starting off with the good.

Seeds planted last week are all sprouted and off to a good start. So far all but one of the 32 cells has at least one plant growing.

Sproting seedlings

Sprouting seedlings

I’ve even repurposed one of my cheap but very capable indoor cameras (Wyze Cam) to capture the action. I’ve been using a few of these $20 camera around the house keeping tabs on the cats and activities around the outside of the house. While not perfect, they are quite effective for the price.

View of plants from Wyze Cam

View of plants from Wyze Cam

The camera is currently nestled between the two fluorescent lights.

View of camera

View of camera

Here is a view pointing back towards the camera.

So, that is the good. The bad news was discovered last weekend when I finally had a chance to check in on the garden and see how it weathered the winter.

One bed didn’t do so well.

Busted bed

Busted bed

Close-up view of the damaged cedar boards

Close-up view of the damaged cedar boards

The ends of the boards were rotted and damaged enough the the soil popped both ends from the brackets. I’ll have to check more closely when I repair them but it appears there there is a significant amount of insect damage. I’m worried the other beds will meet the same fate.

After all the work replacing old, broken down garden beds so I wouldn’t need to be repairing anything this spring seems to have been just wishful thinking.

End of an era

This past weekend the last two of the original garden beds were replaced.  After over twelve years, all of the garden now consists of six garden beds that ‘hopefully’ won’t need to be patched up and repaired each spring.

For anyone interested in building a garden bed like these, check out my earlier posts where I go over more of the details. See Garden Expansion and Out with the old.

The replacement followed the same script as in the spring. I started off by digging out the dirt from around the inside of the beds and piling it into the adjacent beds.  With the soil removed, I could start pulling out all of the old side boards.

Removing the soil around the original beds

West garden bed with the soil removed around the original bed and one of the sides removed.

Garden bed lost containment

Warning!  Garden bed lost containment!

Old bed parts

Some of the old bed parts.  They held up quite well for being next to soil and out in the weather for so many years.

Two new beds waiting for their new home

The two new beds waiting for to be moved to their new forever home.

Thankful for the neighbors spud bar for use removing all the old posts

I am very thankful for my neighbors generosity in lending me his spud bar for use removing all the old posts.  Some were so rotten they practically fell out.  Others were still very well stuck in the ground.

Second bed missing its walls

Second bed missing its walls.

There are some small gaps between the boards and around the bottom.  I used some landscape fabric to line the insides of the new beds to help keep the soil inside.

Final two new beds all ready to grow vegetables next year and hopefully for many years to come.

Out with the old. In with the new.

After 12 years, it is finally time to start replacing the original raised garden beds. I’m starting off this spring by replacing two of the original four beds with a plan of replacing the remaining two this fall.  The two beds added six years ago are holding up quite well and I decided to construct these replacements the same way.  I bought enough 12 inch raised bed corners from Gardener’s Supply to build two new beds.  After that, I needed to get 12 cedar boards for the sides.  I picked up these 2 x 6 x 8’s from Menards.

Enough cedar boards for two beds

Enough cedar boards for two beds

I used 8 of them for the long sides and cut the remaining 4 in half to form the shorter, 4 ft ends for both beds.

Cutting the 8 ft boards in half to make the ends

Cutting the 8 ft boards in half to make the ends

I found I could save a bit of money by buying the 12 inch corners but continue to use the 6 inch lumber. The corners hold both boards just fine and I drilled two extra holes and added two more screws.

12 in corners with just two pre-drilled holes

12 in corners with just two pre-drilled holes

Two more holes and screws for good measure

Two more holes and screws for good measure

Continuing assembly

Continuing assembly

Completed bed awaiting its new home

Completed bed awaiting its new home

Digging out the inside perimeter

Digging out the inside perimeter

It turns out, building the new bed was the easy part. Removing the old beds was a bit of a back breaker. The 4 x 4 cedar posts  and sides were pretty easy to remove as they have been there for some time and the bottoms were mostly rotten. The 2 x 2 pressure treated support posts I drove in over the years to help hold the bed together were another matter all together. After a lot of digging and prying with a shovel I managed to finally get them all out or broken off below the soil line. After a week of resting my back, I tackled the second bed. The second bed being replaced was not going to be so easy. That bed had four repaired posts secured with some Quickrete and the 2 x 2 support posts screwed into the 4 x 4. If I was going to build this style of bed again, this is how I would have done it. For this task, I borrowed my neighbors spud bar and while my back didn’t hurt any less than the first bed, it did make the job possible without breaking my shovel.

Original garden bed completely removed

Original garden bed completely removed

New bed maneuvered into place

New bed maneuvered into place

Remains of the old garden bed

Remains of the old garden bed

New bed with soil returned

New bed with soil returned

Rinse and repeat. Do it all over again on the second bed.

Rinse and repeat. Do it all over again on the second bed.

Both completed beds

Both completed beds

Now… let’s hope that these new beds last at LEAST another 12 years.

Spring Garden Update

Spent a bit of time in the garden tonight. Hard to pass up 70 degrees and sunny.

I’ll start with the good news first.

There is green in the garden!  The peas are comping up pretty well and I am hoping to hold off the pill bugs long enough to get them up off the ground and out of harms way.  Radish plants are doing well along with both the Romaine and Salad Bowl lettuces.  The spinach is a little spotty, but I am hoping enough of this first planting will grow to get us by until I get the second batch started.

The peas are coming!  The peas are coming!

The peas are coming! The peas are coming!

Another view of the peas.  Trying to be a bit artistic but not sure I puled it off.

Another view of the peas. Trying to be a bit artistic but not sure I puled it off.

Short row of radishes

Short row of radishes

 

Now, as for the bad news…I’ve got another busted raised bed that is in need of repair this spring before I can plant in it. At some point, there won’t be enough left to repair and I’ll need to replace them.  Until then however, back to Lowes for another set of 1x1s I can cut down to make spikes I can drive in to shore up the sides and posts.

Another busted bed again this spring

Another busted bed again this spring

A weekend of garden prep

With the weather actually quite warm this weekend, it was nice to finally get a chance to go out to the garden and get things ready for the new season.
I raked out all the undecomposed grass, leaves and pine needles and repaired the three busted corners. Nine more support stakes and a lot of dirt digging and I think I am ready to plant.

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Garden bed with winter debris and broken corner.

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Cleaned up and repaired garden beds

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Winter break is almost over

While you wouldn’t know it by looking at the weather outside, we have now officially entered into spring.  So, that means it is time to wake up, stretch and start planning the 2014 garden.

To start, I took a short survey of the garden beds to see how they fared this winter.  Sad to say, three of the four originally constructed beds are going to require more repairs again this year before planting.  As can be seen by the pictures below, the problems are the same as that of the past couple years.

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Broken bed corner

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Second broken bed corner

Now, on to more exciting planning, I have started laying out my plan for what and where to plant this years vegetables.  I started off with last years plan and attempted to work in a bit of crop rotation along with my experience in plant spacing.  I had a number of crops that were planted too closely together and while I am sure to do that again this year, I am really trying to learn and give each vegetable its space.

2014 Planting Plan

2014 Planting Plan

Finally today I have done some shopping and preparing my list of seed purchases.  Looks like costs have gone up, not that I should be all that surprised since it seems the cost of everything goes up each year.  I really need to look into saving my seeds from year to year and save some of that money.  I tend to leave them in the garage or some other inhospitable place rendering them less ideal for spring planting.  When seed packets were just a couple bucks it wasn’t that big of a deal but with prices getting up to $5 a packet, the total seed order is getting quite expensive.