Dual Purpose Planters

2014 Butternut Plant

2014 Butternut Plant

Dual purpose planters are all around my forest homestead. Many containers I end up planting in serve another purpose or did at another time. My husband built two planters with rock that he mortared together. These are really meant to keep the guy wires attached to our wind turbine safe. Nobody can accidentally back into them unless they hit the planters. These planters are a good size. Last year I had planted butternut squash in them and it gave us a good harvest. 

Boothby Blonde Seedling

Boothby blonde Seedling

This year, I have planted cucumbers in these dual purpose planters that are deep and warm. Filled with our own compost that has set a number of years to become a rich black dirt. Our plants do well in this dirt.  My idea is to get the plant to attach itself to the wires that go to the turbine. So far the planter out back is doing the best. The one out front seems to be growing in the wrong direction, away from the guy wire. I will have to force that one a bit. 

Mortared bed out back

Mortared bed out back


The type of cucumber I planted in this bed is the heirloom, Boothby Blonde, that I purchase from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds every year. I also buy their Lemon Cuke Cucumber and we like that quite a bit too. They are both good producers. So much so, that we usually eat them for a snack freshly picked from the vines. 

Cucumber plant climbing the wire

Cucumber plant climbing the wire


Every time I checked it, I tried to steer it toward the wires from the turbine which are cemented down deep in this bed.I left the clover growing in here for feeding to our pet house rabbit. A bed like this would be good for a root crop as well. 

Still climbing attached to wire

Still climbing attached to wire

As you can see in this photo the plant attached to the wire and was climbing up the wire. All I did was to check it daily and if was not attached yet, I’d push it closer to the wire and cable. Pretty soon it had attached to the wire. This is not a big cucumber at all and neither is the Lemon Cuke. So when they start growing, they should hang off the plant. If they are hidden on the ground, they rot or are missed when we are picking them. Now if I can keep it doing this! 

Cucumber on Turbine wire.

Cucumber on Turbine wire.

 

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Copyright © 2015 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2015 Kathleen G. Lupole


Garden Made It Through The Storm

Wooden raised beds

Our garden yesterday/

Our garden made it through the storm last night. Actually, when it was happening, I wasn’t even thinking about the garden. I was praying that our house, barn, horses and solar panels and wind turbine would not get hit by the constant lightning. I heard a loud crack and then a crash. I figured a tree had fallen in the forest. It sounded close, but I didn’t realize how close till morning. I looked out the window when I got up early and was sad to see my favorite tree laying on the ground, across my newly planted raised beds!  

Tree split by storm

My Favorite Tree!

This cherry tree is my favorite of all trees. I have always liked looking at it and it’s shape reminds me of a woman dancing. I spend a lot of time in my garden and my tree is right there with me. It is a huge old cherry trees with six separate trees all growing from the trunk. It is awesome and I was just talking about it the other day. I meant to get out and trim the elm trees’ leaves that are growing right behind it. In fact, I had taken my clippers out to do it. I needed to trim back those leaves on the elms because they had created too much shade over the ends of the raised beds. You could see the plants in those beds were stretching toward the sun, and their leaves are smaller than the other plants. I never got to that job before the storm though.

Tree Hit By Lightning

Almost got my plants!

It almost smashed some plants and I am amazed it didn’t. The newest raised bed (that my husband had just completely rebuilt!) was hit hard. Some of the plants were missed by less than an inch. One of my Hopi Pale Gray Squash plants was hit, but survived. Shows you how strong they really are. My husband got to work right away to remove that tree. I am thankful to have a husband who doesn’t put things off. In this case, I needed to get those plants back to normal as quickly as possible. Now I will be afraid of a storm bringing down more trees on our property. Thankful that it didn’t hit our house. 

Tree down on garden

Tree down on garden!

At least the storm caused us to get a start on next winter’s firewood supply. While my husband was cutting up the tree for firewood, I started working on transplanting some of my seedlings that needed to be planted. Then I started trimming the elm trees. Then he told me he could cut those branches off the elm trees faster with the chainsaw. And he trimmed them quickly. Now the whole area is getting more sun. It is opened up nicely. I like it and I think when a certain deer comes back today, I will see him much faster and can chase him away immediately. I think if I keep at it, he will not want to return here, or so I hope.

Tree fell on raised bed.

Tree on the new raised bed!

Maybe this storm caused the tree to come down to get me to work on the trimming around the beds. Now it is not so shaded and that should make the beds produce much more. Even the tree that came down, shaded the beds at that end quite a bit. Now it is really open and nice. But I will always dread the sound of thunder and lightning storms. We lost one inverter and a printer last year to lightning. Scares me to death! But it could have been worse and I am thankful it wasn’t. 

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Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole


Raised Beds Put To Bed For Winter

Plowing Up Raised Beds

Plowing Up Raised Beds

Raised beds need to be put to bed for the winter. I know it sounds strange to say that about a garden. But it is true. Every fall after your harvest, you need to take out all the dead plants, add more compost, and plow the ground up. Then cover it up with mulch for the winter. My husband worked on plowing it up with our wheel hoe. I wrote about our wheel hoe on this post, The Wheel Hoe.

Using a wheel Hoe

Using a wheel Hoe

The raised rock beds are easy to make if you have a supply of rock. In the fall, if any need to be fixed or more rock added, that is the time to do it. People tend to sit on them during the summer and it causes them to break or fall over. The animals get into them too. Chasing a mole and digging into the raised bed can cause some damage too.

Mulching with leaves

Mulching with leaves

We use leaves from our trees for our mulch. You can use whatever you want. Straw is a good choice. Since we live in the forest, leaves are plentiful, as you can see. Makes for an easy mulch that we don’t have to scrimp on. I love the way the leaves smell in the fall! 

Round Bed

All Done!

That bed is all done until spring! Soon it will be covered with snow.

katlupe

Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole


Gardening Is My Favorite Thing To Do

Rock Raised Bed

Bed I built!


Gardening is my favorite thing to do! Even though winter always seems so long and so hard, I can always see the end coming and get in a hurry to start the garden seeds. My father always warned me not to start them too soon. He said the plants would become “leggy” waiting for the ground to warm up for planting. Then those plants might not do so well. Except for the tomatoes. He told me to lay them down in the hole and cover them all the way to the top leaves. Just leave that little bit peeking out. And that is the way I have always planted them. We always had awesome plants with lots of tomatoes on them. That is until we started getting the “late blight” every year, since 2010. I think 2009 was our last year for growing a good crop of tomatoes. I hate it! 

Trees in raised bed.

Two more trees to come down!

I found this advice online (I can’t remember where because I was all over looking for an answer.): 

“Tomato blight cannot be cured, and that’s why it is advisable to simply dispose of infected plants, but there are aggressive prevention methods that help gardeners avoid blight completely. Liberally spray tomato plants with copper-based or sulphur-based fungicide to prevent blight. A spray of baking soda and water (50:50 ratio) works as a household fungicide to prevent blight and kill fungi spores.”

Raised Bed Of Rock

Raised bed made larger


In view of all the attention being given to being prepared, I am working very hard on having a bigger and better garden next year. That is why it is so important to me to be able to grow tomatoes again. Besides we like having our own supply of them. It all begins with the plans I have been making now. My husband has remodeled our raised beds and has been making them bigger and easier to work in. They will get more sun and for longer periods of time. I have been buying mostly organic, heirloom seeds. I have been tempted to buy hybrid seeds that the “late blight” will not take out. Not sure about that yet. Have you been planning your next garden yet? Did you have trouble with one particular plant that you wanted to grow but couldn’t? Frustrating, isn’t it?

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Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole


Raised Rock Beds Revamped For Next Garden Season

Homestead Fall Picture

Peaceful Forest Fall Day

Our raised rock beds in our garden needed to be revamped for next year’s garden. They were not producing like they should. Mainly because they had big trees growing in them and the roots interfered with the area for the garden plants’ roots. So now those trees are firewood! I wrote about them in a previous post, Raised Bed Transformation Is Taking Place.

Building Rock Paths

Building Rock Paths

This morning I saw my husband out there working and it looked like such a wonderful day, I thought I’d join him. He has been removing sod and putting flat rocks in place alongside the raised bed for a rock pathway. Underneath it he put landscape fabric 
that is supposed to keep the weeds from growing under it. We’ll see about that. It was good to be outside and listening to the birds and smelling the fall leaves. I love that smell! Don’t you?

Lemon Balm

Nutmeg’s Garden

I decided to weed, or rather cut back or prune, the lemon balm growing in this raised bed. This bed used to have other plants growing in it, but the lemon balm has overtaken everything. This year I was not good about cutting it back. Usually I dry some of it and add it fresh to our salads. I have been so busy, I didn’t have enough time. That is no excuse really. I should have made the time. Today I did. 

Raised Rock Beds

Working Together In Garden

Most of our rock has come from our horses’ paddock or in areas that my husband has had to dig. He dug out the area for our battery room and he carried that rock back here for the raised beds. I love these beds and I am excited to think about how much more we will be able to grow in them next year. The trees shaded them quite a bit and that hindered what could grow in them. Now it is open back there, yet we still have shade.

Rock Paths

Building Rock Pathways

Raised rock beds are such an improvement over plain wood beds. I have them too, but they have to replaced at times. We will not use treated wood in our garden due to the fact that we don’t think it is safe. So eventually, I believe the wood beds will be replaced with the rock ones. They keep your plants warm at night, after soaking in the sun all day. 

Raised Rock Beds

Looking Better!

Soon this winter will be over and I will be transplanting new little seedlings in these beds. I can’t wait! As soon as I get my garden put to bed for winter, I plan my next garden. The raised rock beds should allow us to get some plants in there early in the spring. Especially with the trees gone. What about you? Are you planning for your next garden too? What kind of changes will you be making?

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Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole


Raised Bed Transformation Is Taking Place

The Snake Bed

The Snake Bed

A raised bed transformation is taking place. We have decided to get serious, more so than ever before, on our gardening efforts. Food is the number one area where you cut back when you are working with a budget. This year, I have seen our food expenses go up due to the rise in prices in items we purchase from the store or elsewhere. Our raised rock beds in the backyard were not producing enough food. They were hard for my husband to mow around. It was wasted space. Too chopped up.

Raised Rock Beds

Beds are too chopped up.

 You can see in my photo that there were trees standing in the beds. The roots of the trees made it hard to work in the soil. I’d plant something and it wouldn’t grow very well. The only thing I could grow that did well was some squash plants. Then the vines would go all over the lawn and the grass would get tall. It looked messy and for all the room the squash plants took up, I only got a few squash from each vine. So out they go next year!

Raised Rock Bed

Opened up to let the sun in!

My husband took down one of the trees and opened the area up. It looked so nice. We don’t really need those big trees back there. Then he changed the shape of the raised bed. Made it wider and made the area between the raised beds larger. Then he can get the lawn mower or my garden cart through the area. Before we had to go around. He had a struggle with the lawn mower. And someday, he may switch to a rider and would need that extra room.

Rock Beds

Transformation taking place!

It improved the garden area so much, that he has now taken down the other tree in the other raised bed. Then he is taking all the nooks and crannies out of the shape of the various raised beds. Some will be merged with the others. That will increase the productivity of the rock raised beds. They are wonderful for growing, I just wasn’t using them smartly. Now I will.

Firewood From Tree

Firewood From Tree

Taking out two large trees has also given us more firewood. That is always helpful. I am happy to see the hearth stacked with firewood now, especially as it has gotten pretty cold here in upstate NY. Though our big stove isn’t being used  yet, it will be soon. This actually has helped us in two ways, giving us more wood and next year, more food. I like that!

Rock Beds

Sitting Area

 The new design of these beds will give us a few areas for sitting in the garden. I like the idea of having a few places to sit spread around. So you can be walking and just sit without having to carry a chair out with you. In a spot or two, I will place a small table. Makes it a perfect place to enjoy a drink or a snack. 

Rock Bed

New Design

 

katlupe

Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole


Raised Beds Can Be Built Cheaply, Quickly and Easily

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Nutmeg’s Garden


I have written about my raised beds many time on my blogs. They make gardening so much easier. My raised beds are made of a variety of materials. Whatever I find. Nothing fancy. In a previous post I wrote last year, Gardening In Containers And Raised Beds, I gave you an idea of how I have done it. Actually, its fun! I love to find a new container or material for my garden. To me, it is a treasure!

Homesteading On The Internet

Made of cinder block and rock.

Using various materials you find around your home or that others may give to you for free, makes the cost of raised beds relatively cheap. I read today a few threads on my favorite homesteading forum and saw members who don’t use them, try to discourage others from doing so. Saying they are too expensive to build or they take too much time to put together. That is rubbish! Those guys must be really lazy to say that. My husband put our wood ones together fairly easy. The rock ones we built together. They were fun putting them together. Some people like to have everything easy and no work at all. 

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Raised Bed Made Of Rocks


The first rock bed I built was from rocks I picked up in the horses’ paddock. I’d be out there with them in the morning and started piling them up. Pretty soon I realized I had enough to build something with. What should I build? Well, gardening is what I do! So it made sense. I loved the way it looked.  But I wish I hadn’t made it quite so big, as it was hard to harvest what ends up in the center. I thought about putting a solar light or fountain in the center, and may do that in the future. It is my favorite bed, since it is closer to the house than any of the others.

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Cement Block Planter


There are many types of containers and materials you can use to put up for a raised bed. The thing I like about cinder blocks and rock is that they stay warm, long after the sun has gone down. So the plants in those beds have that extra heat. The wood beds eventually have to be rebuilt, because we won’t use treated wood in our garden. If you’d like to see some examples, go to my Pinterest Homestead Garden board, where I have re-pinned quite a few of ones I like. These are mostly not mine, but others I have seen and liked.

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Raised Beds Around Trees.

When my husband dug out a room for the batteries for our solar system, he carried the rocks he uncovered out back, and built another raised bed. It was a BIG one! I liked it. He had to include two trees into the design. New York is full of rock. If you are digging for any reason, you will run into a lot of rock. And not just little field stones. But you can find other materials to use if you do not have rock. Just look at things with an open mind!

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Plenty of room in these beds!

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Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole


Aging and Homesteading Can Be Hard

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Peaceful Forest Homestead

The homesteading life can be hard as you get older. No doubt about that. Aging is a part of life. If you don’t age,you are dead. Aging and homestead can be hard! It is something everyone will have to face sooner or later. Unless you give up on it. People tell me don’t stop living this homestead life. But they don’t know how hard it is when you can not stand up  for long. I can no longer help my husband with any chores, such as feeding the horses, carrying in water, or bringing in firewood. I used to go out and gather kindling in the forest. Now I am lucky if I can walk to the mailbox.

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Gardening takes some work!

Gardening is something I am trying to make easier. The last couple of years, I have been taking a stool or chair out to the garden and just move it around and work from it sitting down. Using my electric garden cart makes it easy to move the chair or stool around the garden beds. I am planning on planting some of my plants in containers this year and maybe keep them near or on my deck. That way I can handle them easier. But I will still fill all our raised beds. Need as much food as possible this year! Groceries are outrageous at the stores now.

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Low Carb Supper

This year my husband has started eating low carbs with me. That makes it easier not to have to fix extra foods that aren’t low carbs. Low carb is easier to make and clean up after. Besides the low carb food is helping me feel better and that will help in the long run. Low carb food is perfect for people growing their own foods such as homesteaders do. Most of the food is cooked from scratch. So I find it easy to combine my lifestyle with eating low carbs which are also very healthy! Since aging and homesteading is a fact of live, eating healthy can’t hurt, now can it?

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Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole


Watching My Garden Grow

Bean Plant

Close up shot of one my heirloom bush beans!

Our weather is perfect here in upstate NY for growing a garden. It always is. Our reputation is one of no sun. It is a deserved reputation, I guess. But we get some sun and lots of rain. Guess what makes your garden grow? Not hot temps and no rain! Sorry all my southern friends, especially Texans. I wish I could send you some of the excess rain we get here in NY, but I don’t want you to send me your hot temperatures.

Bush Bean Beds

The second bed has heirloom wax beans in it.

I am looking forward to harvesting and canning a lot of beans this year. It is a plant that really does well for me. It is true that the more you pick the more you will get. We pick them as much as possible. When the plants give out after a few pickings, I pull them up and plant some more. Green beans are a staple that I like to keep a lot of in my pantry. I weeded these beds today and they look like they are doing good so far.

Cucumber Seedlings

Heirloom cucumber seedlings waiting to be planted!

Today, my internet went down so I worked out in the garden. I planted these little seedlings. Blonde Boothby cucumbers, which we loved last year. We were eating them like apples all summer! The other one is Lemon cucumbers and last year they did not do well in the ground. So I am hoping they will do better this year. I’d like to try them. I am planning on trying to make some pickles again this year. We went through every jar I had in the pantry this year. And most of those were pickles my father made from his garden the year before last I think.

Blackberry Bush RipeningBlackberries are starting to ripen.

 How is your garden coming along? Is it all planted? You still have time to get your garden in!

katlupe

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole


Gardening In Containers and Raised Beds

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Gardening in containers and raised beds has increased my garden harvest. I love gardening this way. Many people really want to start a garden, but think they can’t, because its too hard to plow it up. I know that feeling. In my previous life, I wanted to start a garden so bad. I had a nice backyard that had two levels. I had nice built up raised beds, but they were full of plants and flowers. It had all been done by a landscaper and it was beautiful. But I wanted to grow vegetables and things to eat!

 

Raised Beds

Now, of course, after the fact, I know how to build my own raised beds. It doesn’t really matter what you use, just as long as it will hold the dirt, the plants and vegetables. It must have holes for drainage in the bottom. You can grow potatoes in a old garbage cans or in feed bags. They need it a little deep, to fill it up with your “tators.”

Growing Lettuce

 

An idea I came up with before we moved here was to use an old milk sink that came out of a dairy barn. One of the legs was wobbly, and it was put in a dump on a farm we lived on in 1997. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but I knew it would come in handy someday. It is now our lettuce bed. I like it because I can pick lettuce for supper without stooping down. Easy on my sore knees!

 

Another bed I use for lettuce and salad greens is an old laundry sink. My mother-in-law had bought it from a garage sale and she planted flowers in it. She gave it to me when she could not plant flowers anymore due to her health. These two beds hold a lot of salad greens all summer. I replant them over and over. First one, then the other, so we never run out. Nothing beats growing your own salad!

Rock Raised Bed

 

There is no reason not to start a garden if you have never done it before. Planting in old tin cans, coffee cans, kitty litter containers, whatever you can find. I will be writing more about this, so stay tuned, and maybe I can help you through it. I love to garden and would love to see more people growing their own food!

katlupe

Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole