Monday, April 5, 2010

Storms and Trick Weather

April showers bring May flowers. Isn't that the old saying? i remember that from my childhood. I don't know why that little rhyme has stuck in my head, but it did.

Things are really starting to green up around here and the yard clean up and garden spot clean up is in full swing. I wish I had more energy tho. The last few days have been kind of rough. I should be feeling pretty good but instead, I just feel wiped out. Hopefully it will pass and I can get on with it.

My friend from up the road a ways brought me about a dozen strawberry plants. The darn things have taken over her raised bed. I'm thrilled because we were eating strawberries off those plants during first deer season, last fall! I put them in one of my grow tubs next to the porch for now.

I turned the little front garden patch over yesterday. It was still a bit more wet than I was hoping but I did make it thru it. One row of onions went in, I'll probably plant another row or so soon with the garlic.

The weather has been outstanding here, a few rain showers tucked in it. I am resisting the urge to put my seedlings out because we've got some cold overnight temperatures coming for this week. 70s during the day but 40s overnight is not good enough to put them in the ground.

The old house cat is misbehaving the last couple of days. She laid in my carrots and knocked my parsley off the table. She's not making me very happy. Hopefully the carrots will spring back but the parsley is a total loss.

Todays picture is one of the tires i cut the sidewall off of per the instructions for tire gardening from the Alaska Preppers Blog. I'm hoping it will improve the drainage and in turn, the potato yields so I can actually have enough to make it thru the winter this year. We're big tater eaters and we get a little testy without them.

Sad morning here, I started a batch of cheese late last night. I know better than to do that, especially when I'm already tired to start with. I made it all the way to the 30 minute cook time and walked off without turning the heat off. The buzzer dinged and I had a melted, gooey mess instead of pretty, cooked little curds. I ruined a 5lb batch! I guess i was more tired than I thought I was. I left it in the sink and went to bed. Oh well, I'll just have to pay better attention and not try to make cheese at 2am. Not today tho, I plan on walking another stretch of back roads in search of more beer cans. Hubby has got to make it to work......


  1. I hear you on TIRED. Managed about three hours last night. Son has been sick. Moms don't get enough sleep, any way you go at it! Still praying for you and your family. Glad you have all the garden produce. Sure makes a difference, doesn't it? I'm grateful for ours. Take it easy . . . best you can! ~Liz

  2. Being depressed and worried will suck the oompf out of us faster than lack of sleep. During tough times 'bout all we can do is try to appreciate and be grateful for all we do have. Staying active and getting fresh air as you are is a big help, too.

    I can feel your frustration about that batch of cheese. How many of us have done much the same thing. One step forward, two steps back. When I do something like that I always hope it will be a reminder to be more alert next time! :o)

    Sending good vibes . . .

  3. Sorry to hear about the cheese. That would have to be so frustrating. I had hopes of getting our garden going but the landlord hurt a disk in his neck and can't do anything now and DH can't get out there. Looks like container gardening here.

    We were in your neck of the woods Saturday. Was such a nice day.

    Take Care,

  4. Kat –

    We also grow potatoes in tires, cutting the sidewalls out like you have. We have had great success with this and it takes very little space and you don’t have to hill dirt in rows (yeah – I always hated hoeing dirt!)

    Wanted to share some of our trials and experiments with you. You may or may not want to try any of these, just thought I’d share -

    One thing that we do different is – in the bottom of each tire we drill 6 – 8 drainage holes about the diameter of your thumb. Next we put straw in the “outer” part of the tire and fill the “hole” of the tire with dirt several inches deep. Next put in the seed potatoes, usually around 3 – 6 depending on the size of the tire. Lastly goes straw to cover the entire tire. Be sure to cover it well as any sunlight getting to the taters will turn them green.

    Once the potato leaves start emerging we add another tire and more straw (no more dirt – just straw) to where there is only a couple of leaves sticking out of the straw. As the plants continue to grow keep doing this. We usually end up with a stack of tires “5” high.

    Once the green leaves of the plants start to die, it is time to harvest your crop. Take each tire off and in the “clean” straw you will find your “clean” potatoes. That is the advantage of using straw over dirt in the tires.

    Over the years we have experimented with just dirt in each layer of the tires.

    Another year we experimented with both dirt and straw combined in each layer of the tires.

    Last year we experimented with just dirt in the bottom tire and only straw in the remaining tires.

    All of these methods work, however using the later you will have clean potatoes and when it comes time to harvest it is much easier to disassemble the tires when they are not full of heavy dirt. Again, be sure to use enough straw so that the sunlight cannot get to your taters or they will turn green and not be edible.

    This year we have 36 tire potato plants that will each end up being stacked “5” high each. Also this year I am experimenting with laying a bag of dirt in the bottom tire, cutting an “ X “ out and laying my seed potatoes in it, then doing the straw method as stated above. The reason for doing this is our potato crop is around the perimeter of our pool and we are laying down gravel and making a potato “garden” per say. So the tires will be sitting on gravel and not on the ground, so putting the bag of dirt down will be my grow dirt and then I will continue the process with the straw. We will see how it goes . . . if it does not work then we will go back to putting the tire directly on the ground.

    I can tell you we have done several different methods for growing potatoes in tires and all have been successful – but for us we like getting “clean” potatoes and we always have straw laying around so it works for us.

    I have not purchased potatoes for many years – we always end up with LOTS in the cellar. We usually have so many that I end up dehydrating a lot for our food storage pantry also storing them in mason jars or in mylar sealed bags.

    Lastly, be sure to keep some of your potatoes for seed for your next years planting!

    Deb (debfroggie)

  5. Good Morning everyone. I love the idea of growing the potatoes in tires, we are going to try it this year. I actually have a friend that owns a car repair shop and they are paying me to take the tires, lol. So when I saw this idea, I thought it was perfect. My only question is what are you using to cut the sidewalls out?
    Deb..Are you cutting them out or drilling them or the straw idea too. I was worried about how much dirt we would need and the weight of it.

    Kat...Keep up the good work! Love the blog, I'm learning alot.

  6. Debfroggie, that is by far the best description of how to plant taters in tires that I have ever seen!

    Lauren, just a Stanley utility knife, the big ones with the 2 sided blades. Same ones we use in the coal mine. Once you get the first slice in there, spread the cut and it goes really easy.

    Debbie! You shoulda gave me a heads up, I would have met you on the road and gave you some cheese!

    Mamma Pea! I'm sun burned already! I'm trying, thanks for the vibes!

    Lizbeth, hope your son is getting better!

  7. We have gardened on and off for years and have tried the “traditional” way to garden in rows in the ground. However, with just hubby and I at home (no kids to help anymore) we have tried to learn how to garden more effectively for time, energy and ease. We now garden year-round.

    The majority of our gardening is done in LARGE self-watering containers that we made from storage tubs ($4.00 from Walley-World). We have also made them from various items found around the house that you’d normally throw away. We grow most everything in them from corn, beans, lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, melons of all sorts, onions, garlic, etc . . . The nice thing about them is they only need to have water added to them about once every two weeks. Not only that, if weather does not cooperate you can always move the containers into the house, garage, barn if needed. We had fresh tomatoes; green, red & yellow peppers; lettuce; broccoli; cabbage; cauliflower; beans all the way through January by moving ours indoors during the winter months. When the weather started warming back up I put them back out and am still having harvest from them to this date.

    Most veggies that are normally grown on the ground - we grow vertically. This includes zucchini, cucumber, watermelon, cantaloupe, etc . . . We put a handmade trellis behind them (anything works - twine strung between nails on the fence posts; cattle wire set behind; bamboo supports; etc . . .) and then as they grow you support them in little nets (old pantyhose works great for this, especially knee-highs). So in a two foot space you can grow an entire crop of any of these veggies and they don’t sit on the ground getting dirty or getting bottom rot from too wet a ground.

    Lauren - To cut the sidewalls out of the tires we use a standard box cutter / utility knife like Kat. If you get a “radial” tire you will still be able to cut the sidewall out however it will just take a little more elbow power. To drill the drainage holes we use a large drill bit on a drill. We also tried using the utility knife to cut the drainage holes, which works but takes longer to do than the drill. However if you don’t have a drill this is a way to cut them out.

    Also, when we harvest the potatoes the straw can either go into the compost pile or can be used as "mulch" over other plants in your garden.

    As far as starting seedlings I use a couple different methods that have great success.

    I either broadcast most a package in a cup / pot of dirt and within two weeks will have plant starts that are ready to be individually transplanted in larger pots, containers, or ground. This allows you to have many starts of the plant that grow rapidly once transplanted.

    Or I start them in wet paper towels & baggies and within two days have small starts that I transfer into pots and let them get to “plant-size” and then plant as usual. This will usually have a plant that is 3-4 inches tall in less than a month ready for transplant into their growing space. (Example - Bean plants will be 2-3 foot high within a month; tomatoes will be 4-6 inches tall within a month; cantaloupe will be 3-4 inches tall within a month; garlic and onions will be 8-12 inches high within a month.)

    Again for us, we have tried several different methods and these work for us.

    And like Kat, anyone can garden anywhere. Container gardening can be done under lights in the home, or on the steps of your deck, or your front porch, or around the perimeter of your backyard fence. You can do this in the city in an apartment off a balcony, or a city home with a small yard, or in the country with lots of acreage.

    Growing your own food makes you dependent upon yourself and not the “grocery store”. Plus you KNOW what is in your food! You control the entire process.


Comments always welcome