|Earliest: August 3, 2010||Latest: May 31, 2020||Total: 5|
This past weekend we put the finishing touches to our home garden. We have had gardens in the past, but this year we double down on the garden skills since we figured this summer we'll be home more often than not.
Here's what the garden looks like today:
Five Key Things We Did This Year
- Fence Area: We cornered off a 9-foot by 12-foot area in the yard with a chicken wire fence, We used the standard Blue Hawk fence post to secure the chicken wire and define the garden area. There are tent stakes at the bottom of the chicken wire to make sure that the fence stays down.
- Raise Beds: There are two 6-feet by 5-ft raised beds in the area. This is where all the vegetables will be growing. We used two standard 8x8x12 and 8x8x10 boards, both boards were cut in half.
- Landscape Fabric: On the ground we put down a garden fabric to cover the entire area. This is to prevent weeds in the ground from taking over space. We cleared out a lot of vine in this area.
- We used Sta-Green Flower & Vegetable Garden Soil from Lowes. We put in 6 bags for each raised bed. We purchased a total of 12 bags. The bags weigh 55-60 pounds depending on the density of the soil. (Total weight is 660 lbs to 720 lbs!)
- We grew some of the seeds that we purchased at Burpee. We used the Jiffy Seed Starter GreenHouse to grow some of the plants. We started a couple of weeks early and not all the seeds were growing when we planted them in the ground. The Greenhouse has a cover that isn't secure. We put a rock on it as we kept the tray outside on the deck.
Tree Stump Removal
The past couple of weekends I have been busy removing various tree stumps from our yard. These were trees that were growing that should have been removed years ago.
I removed about seven stumps. Some were challenging many were able to get out without any tools.
- Flat Shovel - helps dig around the stump and cut some of the roots.
- Hack Saw - Makes a difference in some large pieces.
- Regular Shovel - for digging around the stump.
- Gloves - Good gloves help you get a good grip on the tools.
Four Things I Learned
- Key thing is to cut off the big roots around the stump. Realistically many roots go well deep in the ground. Over time they will disintegrate and help enrich the soil.
- The flat shovel helps cut off the little roots. The saw really helped get the bigger roots. I had to get on my knees and dig around the roots so that I could use the saw.
- A sharper saw makes the project go better. So if you hadn?t sharpened the saw in a while, my advice is to do it before you get started. It will make a difference.
- After the stump is gone, put some twigs and things in the soil to help build nutrients. Then bury the twigs with some of the soil you removed.
We have a couple of trees in our yard, and every year we get asked the same questions; What kind of trees are they? What do you do to keep them in good shape? Both of these trees were planted by the previous owner. I don't know exactly where they got them, but I have seen them at the Weston Nurseries, Inc. in Hopkinson, Mass.
Here are some notes about these trees in case you have them in your yard and wondering about them:
Hibiscus Syriacus Plant
This is the tree we have in the front yard, it's called a Hibiscus Syriacus Plant (Purple)
- The flowers on the tree starts blooming just before Memorial Day weekend, and will continue to bloom until just before the first frost.
- The tree gets a "flat top" trim every year, otherwise it will get out of control.
- After trimming the tree, I usually have to find all the cut branches as they tend to get stuck between other branches.
- The flowers are purple and leaves quiet a mess on the lawn in the middle of the summer.
- We never had any birds try to nest in this tree.
- We have successfully put Christmas lights in the tree, but had to shut them off because we had too many outside lights.
- In the Fall, I usually trim off all the dead dry flowers off the tree. If I don't do this, they will still appear on the tree in the summer. The tree will just look strange with both live and dry dead flowers.
This is the tree we have in the back yard, it's call a Kousa Dogwood
- Some people confuse this tree with the "Rose of Sharon"
- This tree blooms very nice flowers in the spring and then has little red berry like fruit.
- In some countries the fruit is used to made for wine. (This might be fun to try someday!)
- The tree branches have grown a lot over the years, this year I plan on cutting more back to help it grow better.
- Some birds have tried to make a nest but they never can find a stable spot.
One thing to watch out when your weeding your garden is Poison Ivy. I encountered this issue last week when I working on doing a massive yard cleaning.
As Rush Limbaugh would say "For those of you in Rio Linda..."
Toxicodendron radicans, commonly known as poison ivy, is a highly poisonous North American plant that is well known for its production of urushiol, a clear liquid compound found within the sap of the plant that causes an itching, irritation and sometimes painful rash in most people who touch it. (I have heard that some people are known to get irritation when the wind blows through poison ivy.)
I wore some heavy leather gloves when I was pulling out weeds, as many of the weeds were thorn bushes. I believe that I got contact with the Poison Ivy when I was putting the weeds into the paper bags. I didn't notice any redness on my arms till about 24 hours later. I don't know exactly where I got in contact with the Poison Ivy.
My reaction to Poison Ivy peak about 3 days later. I did take Benadryl ( Diphenhydramine ) and used some anti-inching lotion to help calm the inching. Some of it worked as I wasn't inching all that much. About 5 days later the palm of my hands started to have big bubbles and at some point they popped. It was at this point that I noticed that my reaction to Poison Ivy was going away or very much diminished.
I was told that the best way to get rid of Poison Ivy is to use Roundup. As pulling up the root of the plants isn't always 100% effective. However, in order to do this, you need to know where the plants are. Anything with three shining leaves is a good clue, but unfortunately that isn't always a Poison Ivy plant.
My two lessons from this:
- When treated poison ivy will last about a week. Probably less if using prescription medicine.
- Wearing heavy gloves is not enough to protect from poison ivy, make sure to also wear long sleeve and wash all clothes immediately after any exposure.
This year we are growing various vegetables in our garden and one of the really cool plants that are doing will is the Chili Pepper plants. They are just about ready to be picked.
I got the plants in the spring at the Weston Nurseries in Hopkinton, Mass. I have been watering them everyday that it didn't rain and made sure that there are no weeds around the plant.