Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Potato Green Thumb Sunday Update

Have you ever heard of growing potatoes in tires? You fill a tire full of garden soil and plant a few potatoes. After the plants get to be about two feet tall, you add another tire on top of the first one and fill more compost or soil around the potato plants up to the top of that tire. When the potato growth gets taller again, you add another tire and more dirt. I've seen people get up to five tires high! The potato plant amazingly makes more tubers along what was originally the above ground part of the plant.

Well, I don't have any extra tires to do this with and I think that would be a bit ugly anyway. However, the idea is a sound one so I am attempting to repeat the concept using boards to make my raised beds higher and higher.

I have Kennebec and Yukon Gold potatoes tightly spaced in the raised beds so I can do this. last year I tired this with some success, but the beds were too large. It takes a lot of extra soil to raise 20 square feet even one foot higher.

This year I planted them in beds 4 foot by 3 foot, and 4 foot by 2 foot, so I could more easily add more wood and soil to the beds. Unfortunately, that is STILL too big of an area.

By accident however, I discovered the perfect size bed for this technique - about 2 foot square.

My daughter planted only two seed potatoes in the corner of her garden bed. I then built up that portion of the bed with wood stakes and boards. As the potato plants keep getting taller, we will add another layer of boards and fill that in with more soil. By the time we are done, the "box" will be almost three feet tall.

What makes this even better than the tire idea is that we can take off some of the lower boards to harvest "new potatoes" any time we wish because the first tubers that are produced are at the bottom and as long as we keep making the box taller, the plant will keep producing!

Ironically, since I won't be capable of making my larger potato beds very high, my daughters 2x2 potato bed will out-produce my 4x3 beds. Next year we will make several small bed/boxes like hers. My daughter has really been teaching me about gardening this year without even trying. When it comes to these potatoes, good thing she has a green thumb!

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

7 Random Things About Me

I have been tagged by Tracy who blogs at Outside in a meme called "7 Random Things About Me". Being picked is a honor, but I usually write about my garden - not about me. So I'm not sure what to write. While I'm thinking, you can read the 7 things Tracy wrote about herself.

Okay, here goes - seven random things:

    1. I went through the classes to become certified as a "Master Gardener" back in 1995 through The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. It was really great even though I was the youngest one in the class by far. As part of the service hours required in the program, I wrote gardening articles for the local newspaper and taught composting seminars at the Gardens Alive retail store in Lawrenceburg Indiana. I was also honored to be employed by Gardens Alive at that time. I worked for them a couple weekends per month as a "product consultant" (okay maybe that was two things).

    2. I married my high school sweetheart! We have been married for almost 17 years, but we have been together for 24 years. Pretty cool, huh?

    3. My regular job is with a Television Production Company. We make all sorts of videos, commercials and TV related things. At home I watch very little TV.

    4. from 2001 to 2005, I almost stopped gardening entirely because I was spending all my free time working in Children's Ministry and performing magic shows for summer camps, vacation bible schools and churches.

    5. I can't stand mustard! As a kid, I ate only a few different kinds of food. As an adult, I've learned to like many new foods and flavors. Mustard is NOT one of them and never will be!

    6. I have two wonderful daughters age 13 and 10. They are a big help in the garden and on the computer. I teach them things about gardening and they teach me things about the computer!

    7. My ultimate dream is to figure out how to make gardening at home my full time thing! Maybe with a combination of market gardening and writing about gardening it could happen, who knows?

Well there you have it - seven totally random things about me. Now comes the part where I am supposed to tag seven other people to participate in "7 random things about me". This too is a hard decision, but these are the people I am tagging:

The first two are the first two blogs that I followed before I began blogging. Because of that, they have become among my very favorites. First is Skippy's Vegetable Garden. Skippy is a dog. the blog is written by his owner. I'll let her decide if she wants to tell things about her or about Skippy. The other blog is Compost Bin by Anthony.

3 and 4 on my list I am picking because they are the closest in the blogosphere to me geographically and they have wonderful blogs. They are Kasmira at Cincinnati Cape Cod and Kerry of Kerry's Garden.

Next are two blogs written by people who have great blogs and seem to me to be very nice. I would like to know more about them. They are Edible Landscaping and Gotta Garden.

Lastly, I am picking Kenny from Veggie Gardening Tips. Kenny doesn't seem to be the meme type to me, but I would love to know more about him. What I already know is that he is a real pro. He knows more about gardening, and specifically organic gardening, than anyone I know.

So to recap my list, I tag:

  • Skippy's Vegetable Garden
  • Compost Bin
  • Cincinnati Cape Cod
  • Kerry's Garden
  • Edible Landscaping
  • Gotta Garden
  • Veggie Gardening Tips
  • If you are one of those people, here are the rules that Tracy wrote in her post:

    Each player starts with 7 random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to then report this on their own blog with their 7 random facts as well as these rules. They then need to tag 7 others and list their names on their blog. They are also asked to leave a comment for each of the tagged, letting them know they have been tagged and to read the blog.

    Thank you Tracy for including me in your list.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Crazy Kitten Still Sleeps Anywhere!

You may remember Macy our kitten from previous WW posts. She is just about grown up now, but she STILL falls asleep anywhere and in any position.

Here she is wide awake:

Macy still likes to take cat naps. She still likes to wear hats, and she is still very talented.

Most of all, Macy is still our Garden Desk Mascot!

This has been a not-so-wordless Wordless Wednesday!

See My Other Wordless Wednesday Posts

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Birthday Tomato Update for Green Thumb Sunday!

Well today is June 24th - my birthday. I'm not usually focused on my own birthday, but this year my #1 gardening goal was to have ripe tomatoes by now. June tomatoes are unusual for me here in the Cincinnati area. Last year it was August before I got ripe ones.

Not this year!

A wonderful birthday present. Actually the tomato pictured is the 6th Early Girl tomato this year (and actually is much smaller than the others). The first one was on June 15th. Next year, my family wants to shoot for a May ripe tomato!

I said "my family" instead of just me because it really has become a fun family thing working on reaching the goal. My daughters even wanted to protect our early plants from hungry or thirsty animals so much that they encouraged me to fence the plants in.

Usually animals don't bother tomatoes, but in the midst of our drought, animals might go after ripe tomatoes for the water content.

We have been seeing many foxes and raccoons lately so this fence will keep them out.

Soory, only humans are permitted to enjoy these garden fresh, vine ripened organic birthday tomatoes!

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Quick and Easy Watering Tip

We finally have gotten some rain here, so there is no longer an eminent danger of the garden plants dying. There still hasn't been enough rain for them to flourish so I will continue using the new watering technique that we came up with during this drought.

We used gallon milk or water jugs as slow drippers next to each plant. Here's how you do it:

Collect some jugs and rinse them out. Then poke eight or ten small holes in one side as low as possible. Use a straight pin instead of a nail so the holes will be very small. I've heard of people making the holes in the bottom of the jug, but I put them on the side down by the bottom. If you put the holes on the actual bottom, you have to make larger holes or they will be clogged by the soil.

Once your jug is ready, fill it with water and put the cap back on about half way. You can regulate how fast the water drips out by how tight you put the cap on. If you want it to drain quickly, leave the cap off.

I use this technique next to larger plants like tomatoes or peppers. In the above picture, the milk jug is watering a cinnamon basil plant. If you want to use dripping jugs between rows, you can poke holes in two opposite sides to water a part of each row at the same time. I like to keep the holes only on one side though, to control the water flow better.

The more jugs you have the better with this type of watering. Each morning, my wife or I take the hose out to the garden and fill up all of the jugs. We move them around to plants that were not watered the day before. Obviously, if you have a large garden, you can't water every plant this way, but since you fill up the jugs with your garden hose, you can then spray the other plants directly.

This slow drip method works better than directly spraying with a hose or sprinkler though. Since the water leaks out slowly, it is a more deep watering. The whole gallon of water makes it to the plant roots and no water is wasted.

If you are having a drought like we are here in Kentucky give the jug method a try!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Introducing Veggie Garden Info!

And there are many other great blogs (better than Garden Desk) featured there as well.

So what is I'm glad you asked!

I have been blogging here at Garden Desk for over a year now, and reading good garden blogs for several years. I enjoy reading about all aspects of gardening, but vegetable and fruit gardening are my favorites.

This Spring there were hundreds of great gardening posts, but I would many times have to search to find the entries about vegetables. Maybe I'm the only one who enjoys vegetable gardening more than other types of gardening, but if you are like me then you will love!

Veggie Garden Info is a site that I started with a little help from my friends that highlights the blogs, blog posts and Internet articles about Veggie gardening and topics related to veggie gardening.

The site has only been live for two weeks, and we are on a role! The contributors are great! We have already had to expand the topics to include any kind of "edible gardening" which includes veggies, fruit, herbs, cooking and more.

I've rambled here long enough. You should check out Veggie Garden Info for yourself! Let us know if YOU would like to participate or if you have any ideas to make the site better. It truly is for all gardeners, garden bloggers and Garden blog readers.

The post below this one contains buttons and banners that you can use to link to Veggie Garden Info.

After this post, I won't be mentioning Veggie Garden Info any more here on Garden Desk. I have to get back to blogging about all the things going on in my garden, and there is a lot going on! We finally had some rain and everything is growing like a weed (especially the weeds)!

So thank you for allowing me time for this commercial break. Thanks, and Happy gardening!

Veggie Garden Info Banners

As you probably already know, I have been working with It is going very well thanks to all of the support from our contributers. Since Veggie it is a new site however, we are having some CSS and JavaScript difficulties. We have created some buttons for featured bloggers and fans to post on their sites, but we are unable to get them to work properly. So the temporary fix is for me to share them with you here on Garden Desk! The first two are for you to use if you have had an article or post appear on VeggieGardenInfo. The last two are for anyone to use who has a blog or site and wants to help us with promotion. Let us know if you put one of these buttons on your site but you don't have a veggie article to submit. We can still work out a link to your site or blog if you would like. So here goes.
In each case, copy the code below the button and paste it in your sidebar or post.

Use this one if you have contributed to the site:

Use this one only in a post or header. It is too large for a sidebar.

The next two are for anyone and can be used in the sidebar or anywhere.

This next one is my favorite!

Thank you to all who use these banners. If you would like to be linked from Veggie Garden Info by contributing a blog article, leave a comment below or visit the Suggest a Veggie Article page on Thanks, and happy gardening!

Monday, June 18, 2007

As dry as it gets!

We still have not had rain. This is the driest June ever for my garden. There are places in the yard that have such big cracks that you could almost turn your ankle stepping in them.

For visual reference, here is a picture of my daughter's foot by the cracks:

She tried to fill in the crack with water from the hose, but any water she put in it just disappeared far into the ground.

I have been keeping up with watering everything pretty well until this weekend. Everything got really dry since I wasn't home at all from Wednesday until Sunday because I was spending nearly every waking moment with my Dad at the hospital.

He is still hanging in there but we are taking it day by day. Thank you to all who wished him well.

Today I took the day off and stayed home. I was able to catch up on the watering enough for everything to still stay living. The vegetables look pretty good but some of the flowers got pretty crunchy. Despite the heat, we are still getting good tasting lettuce from the garden. Today we ate huge chef salads with our lettuce, a hot wax pepper, and a few more tomatoes from the garden. The first ripe tomato was eaten on sandwiches on Father's Day. It was soooo good.

I sure hope it rains soon, so the rest of the tomatoes and other veggies can keep growing well.

Friday, June 15, 2007

First Ripe Tomato on June 15th!

Hooray! We picked our first ripe tomato this morning, June 15th! It was my goal to be able to harvest the first ripe tomato by my birthday on June 24th, so It looks like we made it!

My daughter has been watching it all week.

She wanted to pick it on Wednesday, and we probably could have, but I wanted it to turn all the way red on the vine. When we picked it this morning, she was happy to hold it.

As for my goal, I still want to eat garden fresh BLTs on my birthday. I'm pretty sure we will be able to because many other tomatoes are almost ripe.

I wanted to write more about my tomatoes and many other things going on in the garden, but I haven't had much time lately. My Dad is in the hospital. He has been battling cancer for some time now, and earlier this week he had a stroke. I am leaving to go back to the hospital now, but first I wanted to share with you my wonderful early tomato. I feel like a proud parent!

Isn't it beautiful? Maybe I can eat it for Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Corn Hole; Have you ever heard of it or played it?

Part of Wordless Wednesday

Once again, I can't really leave this completely wordless. My daughter and I played in a Corn Hole tournament at our church on Sunday. We won the first round but lost the 2nd round 21 to 19. I know this has very little to do with gardening, although there really is corn inside the bean bags. Even still, this post will not be worthy of Veggie Garden Info.

Corn Hole is a really fun game, but I don't think it is very well known across the country. It is extremely popular in the Cincinnati area, as you can see from the above pictures. It is sort of like horseshoes. You try to throw your corn bags into the hole in the board thirty feet away. If you get it in the hole, you get three points. If it lands on and stays on the board, you get one point. It is played in two people teams. Your partner is at the other board and throws the bags back to your board. The scoring gets pretty interesting because the other team's points cancel out yours on any given round. In other words, on your first round if you get one in the hole and then your opponant does too, the score is still 0 to 0, not 3 to 3.

There is a regulation size and angle to the boards, but the cool thing is that the face of the boards can be painted however you want. Some of them get really artistic.

Well now, there is a good garden-related board!

What I am interested to see from this post is if you have ever played corn hole? Have you even heard of it? Please leave a comment below and tell me where you live and if you have heard of it or played it. If you havn't but you are interested in learning more, you can visit

Once again, thanks for allowing me to be so wordy on Wordless Wednesday! If you want to see other people's posts that probably are less wordy, click here.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Store Bought Tomato Cages not Good Enough

On my last post about my extra early tomatoes, Italman asked if I was happy with the tomato cages in the photo. They were just the average four ring "cages" that you can buy at most garden centers, hardware stores and even grocery stores.

Well Italman, since the cage on the left just fell over, the answer is NO!

At least my curtain rod stake (gardeners will use anything) kept the cage from falling all the way to the ground.

I was able to repair the problem by securing some other collapsible tomato cages to the outside of the flimsy cages.

Now that these early girl tomato plants are upright again, they are over four feet tall!

I have about 40 more tomato plants that are still small. They will all need some kind of support as well. The store bought cages WILL work for some varieties if they are bush type or determinate. The indeterminate tomatoes need something better. My favorite methods are the "Florida Stake and Weave", "Topless Tables" and my own special "tomato trellis". I will write about all of these more as the season goes on. I wrote a post last year about my tomato trellis and topless tables if you want to know more about them.

As for now, I'm just glad that my extra-early tomatoes are still growing. My goal is still to have ripe ones by my birthday on June 24th. That date is coming up soon. Here is what the tomatoes look like right now:

Do you think they will make it in time?

If so, maybe I could claim to have a green thumb after all!

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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Tilling in the Rain!

This spring has been crazy for me and my garden! First we had crazy weather and then my time was taken up largely by building my deck. On top of that, I made a great big garden to do list which included a complete redesign of the vegetable garden raised beds!

To get all of this accomplished I have had to resort to creative scheduling of my time like taking days off from my day job and building raised beds in the middle of the night by moonlight. Well now to add to that list, I roto-tilled the rest of the garden in the rain!

I included that last picture so you can see the raindrops in the trees. Even though it was raining pretty hard the ground was still pretty dry a few inches below. Since I am expanding the beds past where they were last year, I had to till some areas that were sod last year. The spot that was next to the end of last year's beds were particularly dry and compacted. You can see what I mean in this picture. Look just ahead of the rototiller tines.

These new areas do not have very fertile soil yet. I am going to have to use a lot of organic fertilizer on the beds in those areas.

I don't like using a tiller in the garden. I am against using it every year like many row gardeners do. Over-tilling destroys the soil structure and causes a hard-pan which that hinders root growth to form where the tines have pounded the soil. After this year, I will never use the tiller here in the vegetable garden. Unfortunately in my Kentucky clay soil, it is necessary to till where I haven't gardened before.

So till is what I did! I tilled in the rain for over an hour. Right about the time I finished, the clouds broke and the sun came back out.

This vegetable garden still doesn't look like much, but it will in a month or so. The most interesting thing to watch so far is still my extra early tomatoes. Notice them there at the bottom of that last picture?

Now that it is tilled, I will add a couple more raised beds and a fence to plant my corn in. Hopefully I will have prettier pictures to show soon!

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