Archive for the ‘May 2009’ Category

my urban homestead

I am a new blogger here at 1000 new gardens, so I thought, rather then just diving in, I would start with an introduction.  I am a longtime Missoulian, first time veggie gardener.  Over the winter we moved out of our old house, which I think can boast the shadiest yard in Missoula (good for cooling your house, bad for gardening) into our new digs with a nice, sunny south facing yard.  I knew that I needed to garden.  I have been interested in local food for a few years, but since the birth of my first bean, I have felt more of an urgency to find good, healthy food that is easy on the environment.  Also, coming from a rural background, I really want my kids to grow up knowing where food comes from and how it gets to our hungry little mouths.

So, back at the end of April, my mom came to town for a few days and we worked from dawn til dusk building raised beds, a chicken coop and compost bins.  Most of our neighbors are older retirees, who watched with interest to see what those “kids” were up to.  There was much discussion about avoiding roosters and stories about the various livestock and wildlife that has graced the neighborhood over the years, including horses, goats, sheep, homing pigeons and a myriad of deer, birds and rabbits as well.  We also heard about the young couple down the street who bought their chickens off ebay. Who lives in Montana and buys chickens off ebay?

the coop and raised beds

the coop and raised beds

A week later I planted my cold weather crops in the fading sunset after putting the baby to bed.  I planted peas, lettuce, carrots, spinach, onions, beets and turnips.

A week after that I picked up four little puff balls from quality supply and built them a brooder in my basement shower with a box from, a shop light, some pine shavings and food and water.

The next week it was raspberries and strawberries from a woman in Ronan, heirloom tomato starts from my coworker and squash starts from my neighbor.

Last week, I put in all my tomatoes, and planted beans, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, more lettuce, basil, peppers, sunflowers and nasturtiums.  Some from seeds and some from starts.

my garden plan

my garden plan

Things are sprouting and growing and I’ve already learned a lot (like don’t scatter your carrots, plant rows, they are too bunchy when I scatter them and I don’t like it).  I’m excited for this project and to be a part of it.  If you would like to see more about my garden, as well as my craft and home projects, you can find me at The Hip Homemaker.



Built, Planted, Wait

The fence was completed last weekend….things were planted this weekend, many things. I also added some native plants to the space….now I wait and watch. I’ll let you know what comes up first until then here is a visual image of my backyard transformation.

Dig Day…the grass is gone!

Dig Day

My Fence Building Partner

Heather & LaNette

The Fence is Done…and now I wait

The Fence

I wait to see what grows…..Garden Planted

Garden planted

Fifth Street Estates May 25, 2009

Let there be lettuce.
I spent some time out on the Fifth Street Estates acreage today and to my delight, the sprinkling tractor incident didn’t wipe my entire crop of lettuce. There, where I planted them, their rows somewhat mangled and misshapen, were the remnants of what I had planted. I also planted some lima beans, cukes (because I have the TOP SECRET HM recipe for the world’s BEST dill pickles) and some more flowers. In my starter indoor crops, two out of a hundred seem to be showing life. I am discouraged about the rest–so much for getting a head start…

Fifth Street Estates May 24, 2009

Now I have carrots, beets, radishes, lettuces, and peas planted, as well as some varieties of flowers.

I had a possible setback this week when my landlord set out the little tractor sprinklers to water the lawn.  One of the little tractors got off course and drove right into my lettuce patch. The water was blasting down on the lettuce and kale and I have no idea how much of myplanting is lost, if any at all. My nice neat rows may have been blasted to chaos!  So, in that respect, I may get a mixed green crop!

My raspberries and strawberries seem to be doing well with lots of new growth both in terms of new leaves an cane growth. Rhubarb, which has been growing in the same place for a million years, is growing up nicely and I will be eating some this week.

The garden still looks like a dirt patch, but I am seeing green things coming up.  This week I hope to be able to discern the difference between the weeds and crops.

gardening at 201 chestnut

I’m writing the day after the first seeds were planted, a process which seemed to take a long time after the initial work day. I think i have had insemination anxiety, which has resulted in getting a lot of opinions before doing anything. And there a lot of opinions out there! For instance is there too much horse manure in there?  Maybe, maybe the soil is too acidic, so I worked a lot in and raked a lot off, storing it in the compost for next year. How about planting in rows, vs a cluster pattern. Rick pointed out that people don’t like to line up –it makes them feel vulnerable and bossed around –so why should make our vegetables do that?  How about the deer because the garden is so close to the park and the river?  Philip and I put extra high fencing and that brought me around to a good garden tip in harsh way –always wear goggles when cutting metal fencing that is wound up like a spring or a rat trap! I nearly lost my right eye to gardening yesterday when we cut a length of rolled up fencing with bolt cutters and it whipped out like a giant angry cat nearly clipping me eye into jelly!  Very lucky, and just little scarred.

And then some planting. I was amazed at how many seeds were actually in these little packets, and how small they were –directions like space eight inches or six inches or even one foot apart seemed impossible to accomplish. All my consultants said that they thinned after some successful plants came up.  Right now it just seems like a wilderness of possibility –I had to make another diagram as to what was planted where. Another tip I am following through with –don’t let the seeds dry out once they are sown–the soil should be lightly moist all through germination.

I saw some fellow gardeners with drip irrigation and they talked about kits ont he market that got them started with that. I went to Home Depot, Loewes and Quality Supply looking for such a thing, no luck. Ace has got pieces of home systems, but no starter kits. My consultants have offered ideas about it that seem specialized –that tomato plants don’t like their leaves wet, or that water that is aerated is SOMETIMES better than soaker hoses.

I think my advice needs a balance with more experience, but the seeds are sown!


Fifth Street Estates May 11,2009

Ever since Dig Day I have been removing sod, grass rhizomes and other stuff from my garden space. I have put every cubic yard of soil through a soil screen and removed rocks bigger than a walnut. I found lots of worms which I treated with respect and care (they are my partners!). There were also a lot of brown beetles in the grass roots–they turned darker in the sun. I have some seeds started inside but nothing has sprouted which has discouraged me. I have raspberries and strawberries in and they are growing. Rhubarb, which has been around forever, is doing well. More stuff going in the ground this week.