Wild Gourd Farm

Organic Gardening in St. Louis City

Category Archives: Photo Update

Our Digs

Our house is situated on about 1/3 of an acre, with a large double lot to the east and a smaller single lot on the west side of the house.

Here's our house!

Here’s our house! This is looking south, so the East double lot is on the left side, the West lot is on the right of the photo.

Some before photos of the West lot:

West lot, facing southwest

West lot, looking southwest

From the back of the West lot, looking North

From the back of the West lot, looking North over some weeds.

Back of the West lot, looking South to the alley

Back of the West lot, by the garage and shed, looking south to the alley. This is where we had planned to build a new chicken enclosure.

The first thing we did in our new yard? Start an orchard in the West lot. There was already a 3-4 year-old peach tree over there, and we wanted to add to it. We ordered the trees online soon after we moved in last September, but they weren’t delivered until November. So we planted our trees right before Thanksgiving 2013. Two plum, two cherry, three apple, and one peach tree to go along with the one already there.

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We worried that the trees wouldn’t make it through the worst winter we’d seen in a long time. Come spring, though, we started to see some signs of life.

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The peach tree we inherited.

The peach tree we inherited.

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We got enough peaches to eat fresh, share with friends and family, and make 3 pies. Not bad for our first year!

The second thing we had planned was to build a new chicken coop and enclosure. Sallie was nice enough to keep the chickens in her yard after we moved out. We wanted to build a new home for them but ran out of time before it got too cold and the ground froze. So we moved them into our yard using the same chain link pen and dog-house-turned-chicken-coop set up, seen wrapped in the green tarp in the photo below.

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Mother, Yolko, and Chica

 

Here's a view of the West lot from the front as of today.

Here’s a view of the West lot from the front as of today (our house is on the left). The trees up front are plum.

We tilled and replanted the old, overgrown garden plot with lettuce, salad mixes, Red Russian kale, lacinato kale, and romanesco.

We worked the soil and replanted the old, overgrown garden plot with lettuce, salad mixes, Red Russian kale, lacinato kale, and romanesco.

Surprise lillies next to the house

Surprise lilies next to the house.

We've also found several nice patches of medicinal, native yarrow growing wild in the yard, lucky us!

We’ve also found several nice patches of medicinal, native yarrow growing wild in the yard, lucky us! (Yes, Rosco loves to be in photos!)

 

Our plan for the rest of the yard: more food production. We’ve got big plans for the future, including a food forest, outdoor kitchen, and a water feature.

We leaned our mushroom logs against the North side of the garage and did get some shiitakes this spring.

We leaned our mushroom logs against the North side of the garage and got some shiitakes this spring. We also have lots of herbs in pots until we find the right spots for them.

Our future berry patch, housed in pots for now until we find the right spot!

Our future berry patch, also housed in pots for now until we find the right spot! Elderberry, raspberry, and blackberry.

We’re planning to till up and farm a large section of the east lot, but for now it’s mostly lawn. We got rid of the dead yews and started a small garden in the back for this year.

View of the East lot, with Maggie and her beloved frisbee

View of the East lot, with Maggie and her beloved frisbee.

Dead yews are gone! Garden and native perrenials in their place.

The new garden space in the back.

Tomatoes in the back.

We planted some of our extra tomato plants.

Black bean teepee trellis

Black bean teepee trellis

Black beans!

Black beans!

One of our wild gourds

A baby wild gourd

More wild gourds. It's been really interesting to see the fruits' differences in this second generation.

More wild gourds. It’s been really interesting to see the differences in this second generation. Some are much darker and even striped!

Sweet potato patch

Sweet potato patch.

We are also growing pumpkins, watermelon, zucchini, bush beans, pole beans, and basil in the back.

The rest of the East lot is mostly grass, though Eric did decide to build a brick pizza oven on a random brick pillar that was already in the middle of the yard.

New pizza oven in action

New pizza oven in action

We landscaped around the side and front of the house a little more formally, but didn’t lose our sights on edibility.

We transplanted feverfew, mint, oregano, asparagus, cala lilies that were already there, sage, thyme, and azaleas, as well as a really beautiful blue cedar tree.

We transplanted feverfew, mint, oregano, asparagus, sage, thyme, echinacea, azaleas, and a blue cedar tree (the calla lilies were already there).

There are two patches along the front steps down to the sidewalk that we dug up and replanted as well. We transplanted some yarrow we had grown at Amy’s last year, as well as some bibb lettuce, curly kale, and a few wild gourd plants. There was already a weird rose tree there.

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Wild gourd growing on our front fence.

Wild gourd growing on our front fence.

More wild gourds!

More wild gourds!

A volunteer pumpkin took over one of the little plots.  Again, lucky us!

A volunteer pumpkin took over one of the little plots. Again, lucky us!

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Making Up For Lost Blogging Time

We’ve been away from the blog for a while because things have been so busy with our house and gardens. Since buying our home last year, we’ve been focusing our efforts on the house and yard, and our garden at Amy’s place. We are no longer utilizing our former satellite gardens at Sunset Hills, Iowa Ave., Sallie’s side yard, and Lafayette Square. So here’s finally an update on the garden at Amy’s!

We got a later start than we would’ve liked this year due to a cool, rainy spring. Once it dried a bit, we were able to get our two plots re-tilled and planted quickly. In the future we’d love to rely less on tilling (or combine it with the use of a cover crop) but it was absolutely necessary this time to remove the grass and weeds that had already taken root. The irrigation system is still in place, but it’s been mild enough that we haven’t turned it on yet.

We’ve rotated our crops a bit from last year to promote soil fertility and reduce pests and disease. In the east plot, pictured below, we seeded beets, carrots, bush beans, and Peaches and Cream sweet corn, and transplanted some volunteer black seeded simpson lettuce, and broccoli and cabbage from Bowood Farm. There are also quite a few volunteer tomato, borage, celosia, marigold, and cleome plants from last year.

May

May 4th- lettuce, broccoli, and cabbage transplanted

Late May

May 25th- beets and carrots germinating in middle rows

June

June 1st- left to right: lettuce, broccoli, beets, carrots & herbs, purple cabbage

Juy

July 1st

July

July 1st- sweet corn in the back, broccoli, beets, carrots, and cabbage in front.

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We just ate the first of the sweet corn yesterday and it was delicious!

In the bigger, western plot at Amy’s we transplanted five rows of tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, basil, a few of our wild gourd plants (second generation this year!), lacinato kale, sweet potato slips, and nasturtium. We seeded salad greens, bush beans, radishes, beets, spinach, and tronchuda kale. We got some really great harvests out of the spinach and radish row before they went to seed. We’ve since replanted the rows with more carrots and salad greens.

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May- Tomatoes, basil, and peppers transplanted on Mothers’ Day

Newly transplanted tomato

Newly transplanted tomato

June 1st

June 1st

June 1st- trellising the tomatoes with Amy

June 1st- trellising the tomatoes with Amy, sweet corn growing in foreground

We’re using the large tomato cages we made last year from cattle fencing for our tomatoes at the Sunset Hills garden. We didn’t have enough for all the tomato plants this year, so we’re also using the Florida weave method. We drove in stakes between every two or three tomato plants, then used tomato twine to wrap around the stakes along each row to support the plants from both sides. This method works best if you keep up with adding another line of twine as the plants grow.

Peppers in July

July 1st. Left to right: radishes going to seed, bush beans and wild gourd, hot peppers, sweet peppers, tomatoes

July 4th. Tomato plants.

July 4th.

July 10th. Lacinato kale and nasturtium, two rows seeded with carrots, beets and wild gourd, peppers, tomatoes

July 10th. Lacinato kale and nasturtium, two rows seeded with carrots, beets and wild gourd, peppers, tomatoes.

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Sunset Hills Update

2013_07_27_164We planted our Sunset Hills tomato plot in late April this year, earlier than any other tomatoes we planted. With the cold, wet spring we had, they’ve actually fared worse than their counterparts planted in May at Amy’s place and Iowa Ave. We’ve learned our lesson- planting too early, even if it’s after the traditional planting date (April 15th in our region), doesn’t necessarily get you a head start.

2013_07_27_167The good news is that our major harvests will be staggered- we’ll get a flush of ripening here when some of our other plants will be slowing down.

2013_07_27_171There are plenty of green tomatoes. I fertilized with a high-phosphorous organic fertilizer over the weekend, so we should see more production from that, too.

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Iowa Ave. Garden Update

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Sunflowers grow here every year- thanks, Dave!

This is our third season working on the Iowa Ave. garden, and it’s going well. Originally designed with raised beds, we’ve since tilled up larger sections to get more planting space and try to deal with the ever-invasive grass.

Newly tilled this year is the back section, which now boasts a dozen healthy tomato plants, lots of peppers, and a variety of herbs.

Newly tilled this year is the back section, which now boasts a dozen healthy tomato plants, lots of peppers, and a variety of herbs.

Tomatoes are ripening!

Ripening tomatoes

Basil

Basil

Parsley and nasturtium

Parsley and nasturtium

Popcorn is thriving in the tilled middle section of the garden.

Popcorn is thriving in the tilled middle section of the garden.

Also in the middle section, three varieties of beans, including bolita and black bean varieties good for dried beans.

Also in the middle section, three varieties of beans, including bolita and black beans.

We saved seeds from an unknown variety last year. Long and skinny with small striped beans, they're great as green beans when young. We're hoping they'll be good for dried beans.

We saved seeds from an unknown variety last year. Long and skinny with small striped beans, they’re great as green beans when young. We’re hoping they’ll be good for dried beans, too.

The teepee trellis sits in the southwest corner of the lot, which we dug out by hand. It's planted with more pole beans.

The teepee trellis sits in the southwest corner of the lot, which we dug out by hand. It’s planted with more pole beans.

Pole beans growing

Pole beans growing up the bamboo

The view from inside. Yes, there are beans all the way at the top, very much out of reach without a ladder!

The view from inside. Yes, there are beans all the way at the top, very much out of reach without a ladder!

Hops growing in the very corner

Hops growing in the corner

The raised beds have eggplant, edamame, cucumbers, carrots, garlic, beets, flowers, and lots of plants going to seed. Soon we’ll be replanting for fall!

As for the raised beds, here's some ginger in a new bed this year.

We have two new beds this year. This one was planted with ginger.

Horseradish in the other new bed, along with some mustard going to seed.

Horseradish in the other new bed, along with some mustard going to seed.

I do most of the harvesting on Fridays in preparation for the Cherokee Street International Farmers’ Market but we harvested some goodies today, too.

Lemon, Japanese, and pickling cucumbers

Lemon, Japanese, and pickling cucumbers

Mid-week tomato and bean harvest

Tomato and bean harvest

I also started to dig up some of Dave’s hardneck garlic we’d transplanted into one of the beds earlier in the spring. Temperatures are predicted to be much lower tomorrow and Thursday, so we’ll be back at it some more!

July at Amy’s

It’s July and all the gardens are in full swing! Here’s what’s going on at Amy’s place:

We got up on the garage roof to take some aerial photos today. This is the west side of the large garden.

We got up on the garage roof to take some aerial photos today. This is the west side of the large plot, which includes our spicy salad mix, cabbage and cauliflower, cucumbers, butternut squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes, banana squash, pumpkins, and melons.

The tomato/pepper plot to the east.

The tomato/pepper plot to the east.

We're trellising our tomatoes using the Florida weave this year- our first time using this method.  Using stakes every 2-3 plants, you wrap tomato twine around the plants as they grow. I like it so far, but you have to keep up with it!

We’re trellising our tomatoes using the Florida weave system this year- our first time using this method. Using stakes every 2-3 plants, you wrap tomato twine around the plants as they grow. I like it so far, but you have to keep up with it! This photo was taken 2 weeks ago; you wouldn’t believe the growth since then!

Speaking of tomatoes, here's our first ripe batch of Genovese tomatoes, one of our favorite heirlooms. They usually grow singly, but it sure is fun when they grow in big bunches like this one!

Speaking of tomatoes, our Genoveses are starting to ripen. They usually grow singly, but it sure is fun when they grow in big bunches like this one!

Our jalapeno pepper plants are producing prolifically this year! We picked over 100 peppers last week for the market.

Our jalapeno pepper plants are producing prolifically this year! We picked over 100 peppers last week for the market.

Bell peppers are getting there, too.

Bell peppers are getting there, too.

This is our wild gourd plant, propagated from seed from one of the dried gourds we found over the winter. Super excited for our namesake gourds!

This is our wild gourd plant, propagated from seed from one of the dried gourds we found over the winter. Super excited for our namesake gourds!

This is Eric's favorite flower, cleome. We like to interplant lots of flowers in our garden plots. Not only are they beautiful and make great cut flowers for bouquets, but they attract beneficial pollinators, too!

This is Eric’s favorite flower, cleome. We like to interplant lots of flowers in our garden plots- not only are they beautiful and make great cut flowers for bouquets, but they attract beneficial pollinators, too.

Here's another gourd growing in our garden- pumpkins. We selected varieties good for cooking and carving.

Meanwhile, in the plot to the west, we’ve got several varieties of pumpkins growing- good for cooking and carving!

Also lots of melons! We planted watermelons and cantaloupe this year.

Also lots of melons! Mostly watermelons but also some cantaloupe.

Melon vines in foreground, banana squash taking over the background.

Melon vines in foreground, followed by pumpkin, and banana squash taking over the background.

We've got two rows of zucchini, black beauty and a gray variety from Baker Creek. So far we've harvested ~25, with more maturing every day.

We’ve got two rows of zucchini, black beauty and a gray variety from Baker Creek. So far we’ve harvested ~25, with more maturing every day.

Our row of sweet potatoes is filling out nicely.

Our row of sweet potatoes is filling out nicely. We have more planted elsewhere, too.

As well as the butternut squash row. We planted these a little later than our other squash rows.  I've spotted a few baby squash starting.

And here’s the butternut squash row. We planted these a little later than our other squash rows, and there are already a few baby squash starting.

More updates to come!

Iowa Ave. Garden Update

We’ve been focusing our efforts on our newest garden at Amy’s place, but we’re still going strong on our plot on Iowa Ave.  Here’s what’s growing over there:

The tomatoes, peppers, and herbs are thriving in the back section. Thanks to some burlap and straw, the grass isn't too bad back there.

The tomatoes, peppers, and herbs are thriving in the back section. Thanks to some burlap and straw, the grass isn’t too bad back there.

Our new tomato container garden, built over a thick layer of plastic sheeting and wood chips, is also grass free and doing well.

Our new tomato container garden, built over a thick layer of plastic sheeting and wood chips, is also grass free and doing well.

And, since we had so many tomato plants, here's our newest little tomato patch by the front fence.

And, since we had so many tomato plants, here’s our newest little tomato patch by the front fence.

The middle section we tilled up this year is supporting four varieties of beans, with salad greens and carrots planted on either side of each row. Burlap and straw line the middle of the rows. So far the grass has been kept at bay with this system!

The middle section we tilled up this year is supporting four varieties of beans, with salad greens and carrots planted on either side of each row. Burlap and straw line the middle of the rows. So far the grass has been kept mostly at bay with this system!

Cucumbers are filling in. We planted three varieties, lemon, a pickling, and Japanese.

Cucumbers are filling in (also some grass). We planted three varieties, lemon, pickling, and Japanese.

The hops along the front corner are doing well this year, their second year in this location.

The hops along the front corner are doing well this year, their second year in this location.

Some of the Italian pole beans we planted did succumb to pest damage, so we've replanted to try to fill in the teepee trellis.

Some of the Italian pole beans we planted did succumb to pest damage, so we’ve replanted to try to fill in the teepee trellis.

Lots of beets!

Lots of beets!

Sharing the beet bed are some sugar snap and snow peas. We've had several great harvests from these- the cool spring was good for something!

Sharing the beet bed are some sugar snap and snow peas. We’ve had several great harvests from these- the cool spring was good for something!

These curly scapes will eventually flower and produce seed if left in place. We've been cutting ours off to promote bigger bulb growth. Plus they're delicious!

These curly garlic scapes will eventually flower and produce seed if left in place. We’ve been cutting ours off to promote bigger bulb growth. Plus they’re delicious!

The popcorn we planted started taking off.

Popcorn!

Got these French breakfast radishes planted right in time, they're starting to get pretty spicy now that summer weather caught up with us.

Got these French breakfast radishes planted right in time, they’re starting to get pretty spicy now that summer weather caught up with us.

The ginger we planted is starting to sprout.

The ginger we planted is starting to sprout.

These salad greens have been going strong for several weeks. The spinach toward the back of the bed bolted and is setting seed.

These salad greens have been going strong for several weeks. The spinach toward the back of the bed bolted and is setting seed.

Some volunteer lettuce heads also bolted and are currently flowering. In the three days since I took this photo they've grown even more and shot out some beautiful blue flowers.

Some volunteer lettuce heads also bolted and are currently flowering in the onion bed. In the three days since I took this photo they’ve grown even more and shot out some beautiful blue flowers.

This is shaping up to be our most productive year for this garden. Tilling the back and middle sections definitely got rid of a lot of the grass we’ve been battling and gave us extra planting space. We had planned to install drip irrigation but time got away. Maybe next year!

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!

Babying the Tomato Plants

It’s cold and rainy again, calling for lows tonight in the mid 30s and gusts of wind as strong as 20 mph! So we’re doing our best to protect our tomato plants, both in ground and in pots.

2013_04_23_154This morning I went out to Sunset Hills to protect our newly-planted tomatoes. It gets colder out there in the county than it does in the city. Thankfully, Eric’s mom was willing to help me in the rain! We wrapped plastic sheeting around all of the tomato cages and secured it with staples, clothespins, and wire.

2013_04_23_151I don’t think we’ll get any frost but we wanted to be extra safe. Along with the straw, the plastic should be a good wind break and provide more insulation. We’ll just have to remove the plastic on Thursday before it gets too warm!

2013_04_23_157Here at home, Eric helped me build a windbreak for the potted tomato plants. Most of our plants are safe and sound inside our half hoop house but many are outside hardening off. This tarp attached to wooden stakes driven deep in the ground should protect these babies from strong gusts of wind. 

On a side note, we’re now selling our tomato plants! All organic, many heirloom varieties including Arkansas Traveler, Costuloto Genovese (our favorite), a bush Beefsteak variety, all colors of cherry tomatoes, and several others. In 3″ or 4″ pots, $3 each. Let us know if you’d like any!

Edit: We only sell locally in the St. Louis area. We are not able to ship plants at this time. Thanks for understanding!

How We Spent Earth Day Weekend

This weekend was dedicated to the gardens.

2013_04_19_110It all started Friday night, when the forecast called for a chance of frost overnight. A few days earlier a surprise frost nipped a few of our tomato and pepper plants, so we didn’t want to take any chances. Thus began the great plant shuffle of 2013- all of the pepper plants and the tomato plants that hadn’t hardened off yet (they were in the half-hoop house) were brought inside. As you can see above, we had hundreds of plants inside, covering literally every available surface in our apartment. The plants we’d had outside hardening off were put in the hoop house. Then, about 12 hours later on Saturday morning we put them all back where they started.

Most of the rest of Saturday was spent at our Sunset Hills garden working on our tomato patch.

2013_04_20_119We’re using a similar method as last year, utilizing burlap in between the rows and all plants to keep weeds down and moisture levels high. It’s been a cool, rainy spring here in St. Louis so we only planted about 1/3 of our tomatoes for the year, the rest to be planted later.  Most of Saturday was spent building trellises.

2013_04_20_121Last year we staked each tomato plant separately and tied them as they grew, which was a royal pain. The plants sprawled in all directions and we lost a lot of tomatoes that ended up growing on the ground. So this year we constructed individual 5′ tall wire mesh cages for each plant (about 50).

2013_04_20_126Though we didn’t plant all the tomatoes, we plotted out the rows and fertilized the spaces for each plant. We interplanted some borage, basil, marigold, and calendula seeds today and finished off with straw on top.

After a full day’s work at Sunset Hills we shot over to Iowa Avenue while we still had daylight.

2013_04_12_067Our bamboo teepee trellis stands 8′ tall and will support our favorite flat Italian pole beans. We’re going to tie string horizontally around the bamboo but leave an opening in front so we can walk into the middle to harvest the beans.

2013_04_20_129After several brainstorming sessions, we figured that purchasing nylon netting was the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to trellis our new bean section this year. We planted a row of mystery beans (unidentified, collected last year), black beans, bolita beans, and burgundy bush beans, with carrots and salad greens along each row. The paths in between were lined with burlap and straw to keep the weeds down (the evil grass was already starting to regrow- UGH!).

2013_04_20_137On the other side of the beans we planted popcorn in rows. We haven’t grown corn before, we’re hoping we planted them closely enough to allow for good pollination. We plan to interplant seeds from a wild gourd that Eric found along the Meramec River.

We have a lot to do still, but the forecast predicts lows in the 30s again this week, so we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We’ll probably go and wrap plastic around the bottoms of the tomato cages in Sunset Hills to help protect the plants over the cold nights. As soon as the weather breaks, we’ll be planting another big wave of tomatoes, all our peppers, and the rest of our veggies. Can’t wait!

Up-Potting: It Never Ends!

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We’ve been up-potting tomato, pepper, and other herbs and veggie plants for several weeks, after starting over 800 from seed. From grow lights in the basement, the plants are transplanted into larger pots (4″ diameter) and placed in our greenhouse as an intermediate step before hardening off. We had a pretty hefty stash of plastic pots saved from previous years and managed to scrounge lots of pots from several other sources, but we finally ran out. So we bought some Solo cups from the dollar store and drilled holes in the bottom for drainage.

2013_04_14_102It’s been pretty cold here in St. Louis (especially compared to last year), so we’re glad we have the hoop house to help store them- temperatures inside have soared over 100°F, so we keep it vented.

 

2013_04_13_083We built this make-shift shelving unit from wooden crates and boards (all free). 

2013_04_13_079 We’ve designated the left side of the hoop house for the potted plants, and the right side has salad greens, cilantro, and kale, which we seeded last fall.

2013_04_14_103Here are some tomato plants hardening off outside of the hoop house.

We’re planning to plant about 100 tomato plants and sell the rest at the Cherokee Street International Farmers’ Market, which starts May 3rd! Varieties include our favorite yellow cherry and other cherry varieties, Arkansas traveler, Costuloto Genovese, black giant, a bush variety we’ve saved seeds from for years, and several other heirloom varieties.