Finishing the gardenPhase 2.5 started with going to a cemetery last week.
Why, you ask? Well, this cemetery has piles of rocks and dirt that you can haul away for free, so we selectively collected gravel-sized rocks to fill up the 5th, small wicking bed since I only purchased materials for 4 beds.
We also had to get more cedar fencing to complete the outside of the bed. There's my boyfriend, doing all the work.
That's not true, I worked very hard, too. Promise.
Here's a wicking bed half finished. Underneath those pretty, decomposing leaves is...HORSE MANURE!
I picked up a few more herbs at Shoal Creek Nursey as well to fill in some of the gaps.
Everything looks really darn happy, gotta say. Especially the sweet potatoes!
Here's a shot of a pepper. I got a variety of hot and sweet peppers and I'm not actually sure what this will be!
I also planted some amaranth last week and LOOK! My first successful seedlings!
Here is a pretty cucumber plant. I have two of them...this one may be the Chinese cucumber. These guys like to climb, so my boyfriend and I are planning making a teepee structure using leftover cedar fencing, which cucumbers particularly like.
PestsI have already discovered some pests (little caterpillars) that are enjoying eating through my leaves. However, they aren't doing significant enough damage to hurt the plant. Nature has all sorts of checks and balances and if I end up with too many caterpillars, their natural predators are likely to swoop in and clean up. I have only seen two caterpillars and have lovingly pulled them off and set them in the grass far away from my stuff. They seem to prefer the sweet potatoes and peppers.
CompostingI just bought Texas Organic Vegetable Gardening by Garrett and it's great...came recommended to me by Dani at Yard to Table Gardens. He has a recipe for "Garrett Juice" which is a compost tea that you spray occasionally. Not only do the plants love it, but it can be a very powerful pest repellent, also. I'm considering using the concentrated liquid that the Bokashi bin produces to make my own compost tea. The Bokashi bin is awesome...it's a Japanese design that uses microbes to break down foodstuffs much faster than they would in a compost pile, which means you can even put animal products into the bin. There's a reservoir at the bottom that collects the resulting, highly-concentrated liquid, and you drain it every 2-3 days, dilute in 1 gallon of water, and give it to your babies! There will be leftover food scraps that you can just throw into a regular compost pile, which I'm planning to build next weekend using pallets from a big box store. AND, I can get 75% of the cost of a Bokashi system reimbursed to me by the City of Austin through the Green30 Challenge. All you have to do is take a free composting class (it was super fun) and downgrade to a 30-gallon trash cart or smaller. Then you fill out out this form, include your receipt, and voila, check comes in the mail!
Note that if you have a compost that you built for a free or you lost the receipt, downgrading to a smaller trashcan is cheaper. Upgrading to a larger one costs you a fee, however, so be sure you're ready to downsize!