Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Yesterday afternoon at 3:41 p.m., Jane and Virginia received an urgent message from Peggy: 

Ladies, we had our first rabbit in the garden this afternoon!!!!  I chased it away with a fierce threat, but I think we’ve been found out.  If the little creature tells his friends we’ll be cleaned out in a matter of moments.  Any suggestions for prevention? 

Needless to say, we went into high-alert mode and held an emergency garden meeting. It was decided that Peggy and Virginia would attempt to find an effective and yet reasonably priced protective system for the garden that could be installed by nightfall. Since we were pressed for time, Lowe's and Home Depot were really our only options. The local stores offered nothing that met our needs, but a knowledgeable employee at Lowe's directed us to the store in Garner, which carried electric fencing. (Interestingly, the Cary stores are considered "too metropolitan" to carry such items...?) Off we went to Lowe's in Garner, where we found a very reasonably priced electronic fence kit, which promised to give us 100 feet of fence and appeared to be easy to install. (We had measured the perimeter of the garden before heading to the store, and decided that we would need about 75 feet of fence.)

We raced back to the garden and tackled the fencing project, working by the light of a large halogen flashlight held by David S as the sun set. We couldn't really tell if the posts holding the wires were appropriately placed or if the wire itself was level and in the right position, but we did our best and David S helped us rig up the energizer. The highlight of the evening was Jane's courageous attempt to test the fence, which she did manage successfully after remembering to remove her rubber gardening boots!

This morning, Peggy sent us another message:

Well, this morning there was no evidence of garden invasion form our pesky friends.  However, there was a rabbit in the back yard who seemed preoccupied with the surrounding grasses as opposed to our garden.  I don’t know if he was shocked by our newly installed e-fence and decided to avoid the garden or not.  I left him alone to see what would happen and when I returned after breakfast he was gone and the garden was unscathed.  YEAH!!! 

We returned to the garden this afternoon to straighten out our work, and to add a second wire to the fence posts. Virginia found an electric fence tester to save Jane from further fence-testing trauma. Photos of the finished project will be posted soon. We sincerely hope that our e-fence will end this threat of rodent hooliganism!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mulching Day! A New Bed! More Plants! Better Photos!

April 17th was mulching day at Savasana Community Garden. We pulled as many visible weeds as possible, then surrounded our seedlings with a dark wood-based mulch. We hope that the mulch will prevent further weed growth and keep the surface of the soil moist (the top of our disappointing soil tends to harden when dry).

Check out these mulching action photos!

Since we were given even more tomato seedlings, we also decided to use up our remaining wood and soil to build an additional 4.5' x 4.5' garden bed, henceforth known as the tomato bed. We're mulching the tomato bed in the photos above.

In addition, we have planted various herbs in two containers:

Determined to harvest rhubarb next year, we now have three experiemental rhubarb plants in the ground: one is situated on the south-facing wall of Peggy's house, and the other two are in the northeast side of Virginia's property. All are looking healthy at the moment.

Here's how the garden looked by the time we had finished last Saturday:

From the top, we have: the large gardening bed,
Cherry tomatoes
Cowpea (still just a single seedling!)
Cucumber (yellow and green)
Eggplant (Japanese and Fairytale)
Green beans
Patty pan squash
Snow peas
Zucchini (Eight Ball and regular)
Peppers (mini and Maxibell
Tomatoes (German Johnson, Homestead, and Tumbling Tom) the herb bed,
Garlic (additional tubs of garlic have been planted by Jane and Virginia at home)
Mixed salad greens (butter lettuce, green leaf lettuce, and romaine)
Butterfly bush
Chives the root vegetable bed,
Bok choy
Green onions
Peppers (Chocolate and Long Red Cayenne)
Parsnip (which has finally germinated and is growing well)
Radishes the new tomato bed,
Tomatoes (Homestead and Hillbilly)

...and in the two herb tubs,

Today's Update:
A check of the garden today showed that squirrels have been digging holes in the mulch, and they appear to have dug up about half of the green cucumber seedlings just for fun. Grrr. We will have to consider cages for the plants if this hooliganism continues (*sigh*).

In addition, the yellow cucumber and Petit Gris melon are showing serious damage from accidental overwatering (a malfunctioning soaker hose is to blame); the melon is definitely a goner, but the yellow cucumber may still survive. Finally, the two seedlings in the tomato bed (which were not very healthy to begin with) are still looking quite weak, but if we're lucky one of them will pull through.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Garden's Progress 12 Days After Planting

An Overview: Peggy has been watering the garden beds conscientiously every day. The soaker hose that you can see in the large bed is connected to the faucet on the rain barrel. So far, the garden has not sustained any noticeable damage from birds, bugs, squirrels, or rabbits - we hope this will continue, since we have now removed the protective screens from the root bed and the herb patch/salad bowl. We have a few small weeds coming up, but they have been easy to remove.

And now, on to the root vegetable bed:

Bok choy, before thinning. The seedlings were looking pretty crowded, so Virginia thinned them out a bit after this photo was taken.

Radishes, also before thinning. Ditto the above.

Carrots and bunching onions are also starting to appear, but the seedlings are still too small to photograph well. No sign of the parsnips, but apparently the seeds will take quite a long time to germinate. We will be patient.

We have lots of growing activity in the herb bed and salad bowl, but unfortunately very little of it makes for exciting photos...

Garlic. This stuff has been growing crazy fast.

Spinach. A poor photo, however - the seedlings look much happier in person!

Appearing in the large bed, we have:

Snow peas. These are very attractive and sturdy seedlings.

Green (pole) beans, galore.

Eight ball zucchini (top) and Pattypan squash (bottom).

Peggy and Virginia planted two Tumbling Tom tomato seedlings yesterday, but they declined to be photographed. Just about everything else in the large bed seems to be growing happily, with the possible exception of the cowpeas. So far, only one seed has sprouted...we are wondering if the free seed from Logan's was a bit old. Time will tell.

One bit of disappointing news: The gardeners have become increasingly unimpressed with the soil purchased from Page Road Garden Center. In our view, it has far too many stones and far too little organic content. Consequently, we have been amending the soil with compost as we transplant seedlings into the garden. Virginia also plans to make gravel walkways between the beds with all of the stones she has removed from the dirt! Looks like we will be doing some major soil improvement after our first harvest and before out second planting of the year.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Delayed Update: Planting Day!

The gardeners are pleased to announce that we had our first official planting day on March 28!

On hand were:
*Seeds previously purchased from The Natural Gardening Company
*Two Eight Ball Zucchini and two Tumbling Tom tomato seedlings donated by Virginia
*Four seedlings donated by Friend-of-Savasana-Garden Karen Birbeck: dark green zucchini, white Pattypan squash, lemon cucumber, and Petit Gris French melon
*One leek plant
*One butterfly bush donated by Peggy

After much consideration, all were planted as follows:

Large Bed:
Sugar snap peas (seed)
Green (pole) beans (seed)
Zucchini (two seedlings - Jane took the second Eight Ball seedling to plant at home)
Cowpea (seed)
Lemon cucumber (seedling)
Pattypan squash (seedling)
Petit gris melon (seedling)

Seeds for climbing plants (snap peas, green beans, cowpea, and lemon cucumber) were planted close to the trellises. Still to be planted in this bed are tomatoes, Kirby cucumbers, bell peppers, and eggplant (perhaps one of the Fairytale eggplant seedlings currently growing in Virginia's bio dome).

Herb Bed:
Leek (plant)
Spinach (seed)
Butterfly bush (in the center of the bed, to attract pollinating insects and birds)
The "Salad Bowl": a mixture of butter, green leaf, and Romaine lettuce seed (Jane's idea - a good one, no?)
Chives (plant)
Garlic (bulbs - we still have several more bulbs, which must be planted somewhere else before they overtake Peggy's garden shed...)

This bed will also house hot peppers and a variety of other herbs, such as basil, dill, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme.

Root Vegetable Bed:
Bunching onions (seed)
Bok choy (seed)
Parsnip (seeds were planted after being soaked for 24 hours)
Carrot (seed)
Radish (seed)

After the planting frenzy was over, we had to decide how to protect our seeds and tender seedlings from squirrels, rabbits, birds, and the sun. We considered chicken wire and we pondered poultry netting, but inspired by Jane's donation of a moveable, weighted patio door screen, we ultimately decided to purchase a big roll of 48-inch wide aluminum window screen. We used the screen to cover the root vegetable bed (we attached it with staples to the sides of the bed), the Salad Bowl (we used the patio door screen for this), and the trellises (we stapled blocks of wood to the screen to act as weights). We will relocate these screens as needed while the plants grow.

Finally, we attached lengths of hose to the water barrel overflow valves and directed these to the large bed and the root vegetable bed...then we wished the garden well and headed home.

Today's Newsflash! Peggy reports: "Good news!!  Plants already coming up: garlic, some lettuce, radishes and pac choi!!  Yeah!!"