Wild Gourd Farm

Organic Gardening in St. Louis City

Monthly Archives: May 2013

Amy’s Farmhouse

We’ve been spending a lot of time at our newest garden at Eric’s sister’s new house.  It turns out the previous owner, Wendell, had farmed the yard and sold his produce from his driveway! We’re excited to continue the farming tradition.

2013_05_12_356We got Eric’s family together on Mothers’ Day to help us plant the narrow plot (pictured above are his parents hard at work). Eric used our walk-behind tiller to carve out the space between each row, then mounded up the rows using a hoe. This also incorporated the compost, gypsum, and organic fertilizer I had added on top of the soil earlier.

2013_05_12_352For planting tomatoes, we always bury the stem as deep as possible to promote deeper root growth and stability. The timing was perfect. Usually it would’ve been a little late, but this year the weather really delayed everything. The tomatoes we’d planted earlier in Sunset Hills and our Iowa Ave. gardens are stunted compared to these.










With Eric’s family’s help, we planted 60 tomato plants and 40 pepper plants, mulched with grass clippings around each plant, and seeded basil, calendula, and other flowers throughout.

2013_05_16_379Last week Eric and his folks installed a drip irrigation system for the tomato and pepper plot. The system connects to the exterior hose with a battery-operated timer, which we’ve set to allow water flow for two hours every other day.

2013_05_15_373We also started planting the big plot last week. Like the narrow plot, Eric used our small tiller to carve out the spaces between rows, then I used a hoe to mound each row up. We mixed in some free leaf compost and seeded the first three rows with several types of salad greens and lettuces because they are shaded by the garage for most of the afternoon.

2013_05_15_371This is the back of the garden. The squash pictured above were started from seeds I saved from a huge pink banana squash last fall. We also seeded the next row to the right with several varieties of pumpkin and the last row with watermelon and cantaloupe.

2013_05_16_374As you can see, there’s still lots of space to fill. We’ve got some some sweet potatoes sprouting inside and zucchini plants we started from seed about ready to transplant. We’ve been researching other types of squash to grow, specifically some that are pest and disease resistant.

Also on the agenda: installing drip irrigation for the big plot. We bought the rest of the supplies we need, but we’ll have to set it up in two separate zones and reconfigure the part we already installed. It’ll be worth it though, not only would watering by hand take forever, it’d also be difficult to navigate the hose without running over plants.

This is our biggest contiguous garden space, at about 1/4 acre, but we haven’t neglected our other gardens! More updates to come!


Busy Busy Busy

It’s funny how drastically different this spring season is compared to last year’s. We enjoyed such a mild winter and early spring last year, we were able to get a lot done. The only reason we waited until May 2 to plant our tomatoes last year was because we hadn’t yet acquired the land for them. This year has been so cold and wet that a lot of things have been delayed.

2013_04_28_204We finished planting our tomatoes in Sunset Hills on April 28. However, this may still have been too early; we’ve also since planted some at Iowa Ave. and they seem to be faring better.

2013_05_06_314Along with tomatoes in the back section of our Iowa Ave. garden we also transplanted some pepper plants last week. Because of the invasive grass, we planted the peppers in holes we cut through burlap coffee bags and lined all the paths between plants with burlap and straw.

2013_05_07_321Here’s the whole back section, complete with burlap and straw. Between the peppers and tomatoes we planted parsley, nasturtium, thyme, and other herbs.

2013_05_07_319We also started a new tomato container garden in the section by the west fence where we were growing nothing but tall grass and weeds. To keep the grass out, we laid out a tarp and plastic sheeting before placing the pots and topping with wood chips. This method worked well for us in a different section last year.

2013_05_06_2992013_05_06_312Besides dealing with the terrible grass, we’ve also found evidence of pest damage to some of our newly-sprouted bean plants (above is an Italian pole bean seedling). It happens every year, the beans and peppers are the first to be eaten. We’ve used Dawn dish soap in the past but  this year I got some Dr. Bronner’s castile soap- more natural. Mixed with water, I’ve been spraying the tops and bottoms of the leaves and stems of all of our bean plants, and the damage has been limited.

2013_04_30_210Some of the popcorn we planted sprouted, but not all of it. We want to make sure it grows close together enough for sufficient pollination, so we reseeded some of the areas where germination was low.

2013_05_07_323We have two new raised beds at Iowa Ave.  (as seen in our garden outline) this year.  I planted horseradish, mustard, and kale in one, and Eric planted ginger (pictured above) in the other. We grew ginger last year in our side yard after sprouting it in shallow pots first. This year we direct seeded- the smaller pieces are our ginger from last year, the bigger pieces are organic ginger from Local Harvest.

2013_05_01_221The other thing keeping us busy this spring is setting up a new garden space at Eric’s sister’s new house. She found a house in the city with a 1/4 acre lot, and she’s letting us farm it (thanks Amy!). We tilled up this section of her yard literally the same day she closed on the house, May 1.

2013_05_01_233We called on our Sunset Hills gardening buddy, Tom, to till the area. It was just too much space for our little walk-behind tiller.

2013_05_01_239After several hours, Tom had mowed the overgrown grass and tilled up these two big sections for us. Unfortunately we were losing daylight, so he was only able to pass over each area once with the tiller.

2013_05_08_330To really remove all the grass, we needed it tilled again. Of course it rained for the next four days straight, so it took a week before Tom was able to come out to finish the job. As he tilled we worked to pull out grass clumps, and we returned yesterday to continue pulling them out.

2013_05_08_333Here’s a view from the other side of the yard. In this big section we’ll grow sweet potatoes, squash (summer and winter), pumpkins, melons, and whatever else we can fit.

Today I applied some fertilizer and crushed gypsum to the longer, thinner section where we’ll plant tomatoes, then covered with a layer of free compost. Eric is planning to return tomorrow with our little tiller to work the compost in and space out our mounded rows, then plant tomatoes and peppers! We’re also hoping to install a drip irrigation system to help with watering.

The weather has really forced us to be super productive in the short periods of time between rain. The forecast for this coming week looks pretty clear, thankfully. Lots of work ahead of us!