Sunday, May 08, 2011

Keeping Up With The Strubs(es?)

Or are they trying to keep up with us?

I wondered what the neighbors behind us were doing a couple weekends ago with the truck in their backyard. They finally mentioned it on Julie Strub's blog. They were putting in a couple raised beds for growing vegetables. Was this a coincidence, or were they trying to keep up with the Freddies?

A couple months ago I ended my ten or so year hiatus and decided to try and get our old vegetable garden back to some semblance of order. There used to be about 400 square feet of raised beds in our back yard.

The bed in the picture above is what the rest of them used to look like except this one was made out of something other than redwood. Oddly enough, it lasted longer than the others.

Working in maintenance gardening I lost my desire for outside work years ago and ignored the garden more and more. Finally it became completely overgrown with berry bushes, grass and morning glory. I finally decided to try and clean it up if for no other reason than it was a mess and a shame to see such a nice old garden in such a state.

Connie and I had pulled some of the bad stuff out over the last few years. Back in May, almost on a whim, I took my weed whacker and cut everything down in the area nearest to the house. Then I spent an hour or so for maybe four days turning over the soil where the old raised beds used to be. There's only a trace of the old redwood I used for the borders of the beds left, most of it rotten.

So here's what it looks like now. There's one area you can't see off to the far right that's cleared as well giving us between two to three hundred square feet of the garden back, but it's nowhere near done yet.

You can't tell from the picture but the morning glory and berry bushes keep popping up daily and I have to go back and dig them out as they emerge.
If you look real close you'll see four broccoli plants in the bed on the right. They're not doing too well and I'm not sure if they'll survive my daily digging up of emerging weeds.

I've put one tomato plant in the bed to the left already and am planning on planting a few more from six packs I'll buy locally. I usually start everything from seed but I started too late this year, aside from the fact there may not be much room with all the bad stuff still popping up.

The picture to the left is the area towards the back fence, still overgrown, where we used to grow tomatoes in years past. Also on the right was another bed we used that's covered with old dead brush that's going to be a real hassle to clear. Those areas are the next part of the project and I'm not looking forward to it. It's going to be nasty, but I have to do it if only to keep up with the Strubs.

The picture to the left is the garden area from the second picture years ago. It was quite a thriving garden at times back then. I'm not sure if we can get it back to what it used to be but, if we can, it will probably take years.


At 8:46 AM, Blogger julie.strub said...

I had no idea you were working on your garden on the other side of the fence/hedge, what a funny coincidence. How do your tomatoes do back there? We tried them one year in the warmest/sunniest part of the yard, and we had lots of green, hard, gross-tasting tomatoes - I don't think it got warm enough for them.

You being a professional maintenance gardener and not wanting to work on your yard is kind of like me being a web designer and not wanting to blog. I'll do it on occasion, but I have to be really inspired to get back on the computer when I'm not working!

At 9:24 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

I had no idea you were working on your garden on the other side of the fence/hedge,....

Wait until I cut down that "hedge" and you'll be looking into my back yard every time you step out on your porch! :-)))

How do your tomatoes do back there?

If you grow them in a greenhouse, you should have no problem. Growing outside, we've had mixed results. Certainly we got plenty of green tomatoes. Getting ripe ones was ok some years and not so ok others.

Even with early tomatoes it can be difficult. We generally grow tomatoes meant for this climate (which oddly enough aren't sold here, imo) and it's still a challenge. It pretty much depends on the weather.

Early and Late Blight is a common problem, as well. Some years it's bad and others not so much a problem. Cascade Early, the indeterminate one I grow, is reputed to be blight resistant, and I think it is to some extent. You still may have to spray couple times for prevention purposes and, if they do get blight, it may not go through the plant so fast but it can still ruin the fruit.

We've probably had or best luck with Northern Delight, a determinate tomato that's supposed to be early ripening. It still seems to take well into August for them to get ripe, but they did seem to ripen most of the time- at least a lot of them. They also seem to be blight resistant.

I was a bit hesitant to grow a determinate tomato as they only grow to a certain size and bear a certain number of tomatoes, but they really produced so I'm a fan of them now. They grow to around 2 foot tall.

This year I'm actually not even going to worry about ripe tomatoes. I'm looking for some stock to make green pickled tomatoes. You can't even buy those anymore, except through some obscure internet sites. So, as long as I can keep the blight at bay, I should have some success, assuming the weeds don't outgrow the tomatoes.

...not wanting to work on your yard is kind of like me being a web designer and not wanting to blog.

Yep. It's like the old saying of the shoemaker's kids shoes always being in need of repair.


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