Tag Archives: blueberries

Garden in May, Eastern NC, Zone 7b

May 6, 2015

The garden has changed quite a bit in a month!DSC_7737-Edit(beginning of April)Nieto Photography 2015(beginning of May)     A lot more green but the real story is up close.

Peas and CabbagesNieto Photography 2015The first planting of peas never did well. I think it was too early and too wet. This is the second planting (mid-March). It has doubled or tripled in size since last month’s update. Nieto Photography 2015The cabbages are looking good under the covers. ^^^ Green cabbages above. Purple cabbage below. Nieto Photography 2015The third planting of peas are doing well. A little yellow, which is weird because they are planted in aged chicken manure. I’m just going to wait them out. Maybe I won’t need to add any compost tea. Lettuce is growing to the left. They were both planted at the end of March (2nd planting of lettuce). Nieto Photography 20154th and last planting of peas are just starting to come up. Nieto Photography 2015Spinach: First planting (first of March) on left, 2nd planting (mid-March) on right. I have succession planted 5 plantings. I am just starting to harvest the 3rd planting. The 4th planting is just starting to come up. The 5th and last planting was just planted under the shade of the apple tree.Nieto Photography 2015Lettuce: First planting (mid-March) is a little sparse. Some sprouts died in the Easter morning frost. We are just starting to harvest from these. I have made 4 succession plantings so far. The 4th was just planted this week.Nieto Photography 2015Cilantro is a new plant for me this year. We are enjoying nibbling on these Vitamin C treasures. Nieto Photography 2015I also grew some lettuce in the milk jug greenhouses. These are the greenhouse transplants (transplanted in the carrot/beet bed).  Nieto Photography 2015Carrots and Beets:  This is where most of the carrots and beets are planted. Going counter-clockwise, starting at the bottom… The carrots at the bottom were planted first of March. Beets were planted to the left of them but the Easter morning frost killed the beet sprouts.Nieto Photography 2015 First planting of carrots (first of March)Nieto Photography 2015 Moving counter clockwise, here is the second planting of carrots and beets (planted mid-March). Nieto Photography 2015If you keep moving counterclockwise in the first picture, you will see the transplanted lettuce and then from the 12o’clock position to the 9o’clock position are the 4th and 5th carrot and beet plantings.

Potatoes: The first plantings of potatoes are coming up nicely all over the garden. We are still waiting on the second planting (beginning of April).Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015Strawberries: The plants are looking as lush as ever. They are flowering beautifully…Nieto Photography 2015And are starting to set fruit 🙂 Nieto Photography 2015The blueberries are coming along as well. The bees are almost finished pollinating them. SO thankful for the bees!!!Nieto Photography 2015Kale: the transplants are coming along…not as big as I would like but I’m sure as it warms up, their growth will speed up.Nieto Photography 2015Broccoli: doing well under the cover.Nieto Photography 2015Flowers: Some sunflowers, zinnias, and Asters (I think?) are starting to sprout.Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015My tulips, on the other hand, just sit there and tease me. Meanies.Nieto Photography 2015The warm-weather crops I planted have not sprouted yet (summer squash, winter squash, beans, corn, melons) but last week gave them a good soaking and this week is starting a warming trend so hopefully they’re not far behind.

Lastly, the mulch path I made this past winter because of all the mud needs another layer of mulch. How do I know?Nieto Photography 2015 Bermuda grass is coming through like crazy! :\ It’s one of those things that is not high on the list of priorities but at the same time, it needs to be done before it gets too overrun.


Our chicks are getting bigger (both sets)! And more eggs are set to hatch next week 🙂Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015(the 5th chick was under its mama) Nieto Photography 2015(one of the 10 chicks we bought at the tractor-supply store – 2 died this past week because of all the rain and chilly weather 😦 smart chicks didn’t know to go inside the coop to get warm) Nieto Photography 2015Our old biddies (2yrs old with the 1yo rooster) don’t know what to think about all the hulabaloo 😉

That’s what it going on in our Back to Eden Garden at the Beginning of May in Eastern NC, Zone 7b. The plan for May is:

  1. Continue to succession plant carrots, lettuce, beans, summer squash, and winter squash.
  2. Harvest Strawberries.
  3. Continue to harvest spinach and lettuce.
  4. Possibly harvest kale, peas, and carrots?

What does your garden look like at the beginning of May? I am linking up with Green Thumb Thursday today.


Garden Expansion, Continued…

September 10, 2014

We are always trying to expand the garden. As I  blogged about earlier, we collect a lot of cardboard from the local elementary school every year and lengthen the garden. We typically do this in the fall so the areas can be covered with manure and will be ready to be planted in the spring.

This year, I did this with three spaces. Before we started doing a Back to Eden garden, we had to use tarp to keep the grass away from the blueberry bushes. So, in order to expand, I typically have to:

  1. Rake back six or so inches of decomposing mulch (NOT light and fluffy as ‘fresh’ mulch would be)
  2. Cut away 2-3 layers of tarp with scissors
  3. Cut away 1-2 layers of weed cloth
  4. Cover with mulch that was raked away
  5. Put down some compost

I did this in an area between the tomato and potato patch (I am thinking it will be next year’s potato patch)DSC_5373and beside both strawberry patches.

The strawberry plants have put out a TON of runners over the summer…into the tarp covered with mulch (not going to grow well). So, after expanding the skinny strawberry patch, I planted some runners.

The bunch to the left is what I planted this spring. The spaced out ones are the runners I planted.Nieto Family - August 25 14 - 0002This is halfway. I filled up the whole area with runners by the end of the morning.

I also planted some celery stumps that have been growing indoors. We’ll see how everything does.Nieto Family - August 25 14 - 0003Lastly, I expanded the other strawberry patch. When cutting away the tarps, I saw two blueberry shoots. I just left them alone. I am going to let them come up on their own. We’ll just have a blueberry bush amongst the strawberries 🙂 I covered the strawberry patch with chicken compost and am letting it sit this winter. I have not decided if I am going to plant anything in that space or not. I am leaning toward letting the strawberries expand on their own and filling in the gaps with more runners next year.

Before compost…

Nieto Family - August 31 14 - 0001After compost DSC_5386(This picture was taken before a storm. Do you see the plants turning their leaves, asking for rain?)

How did I get all of this compost? I cleaned out the coop, of course. I clean out the coop a number of times each year but I have never cleaned it out this much. Since the chickens are not laying 😦 my husband took out the nesting boxes and I was able to COMPLETELY clean out the coop. DSC_5355The only thing I did not do was wash it out. DSC_5357I do not see that ever happening. It was hard work and I am glad it is done! The coop is now nice and clean and three patches are ready to sit all winter in their compost blanket, enjoying compost tea every time it rains.DSC_5365 DSC_5366

As soon as we get back from vacation, I need to go to the local horse stables and cover the rest of the areas that will sit through the winter. I also have more fall crops to plant and I have over 200 bulbs that are being mailed to me in a couple of weeks. Hopefully, I can get it all done before winter!

Who wants to come lend a hand?! You can just hold the baby while I work — that would be a help too! 😀

Harvest Monday

August 4, 2014

This is the last week of blueberries and the end of strawberries is coming soon. Nieto Family - July 28 14 - 0001DSC_5039It was a good run. I am hoping watermelons and raspberries are next on the fruit menu.DSC_5087 _DSC2986 DSC_5088 I’m not as hopeful about cantaloupe this year, unfortunately 😦DSC_5089I actually didn’t notice this until the day after I took this photo…look in the center of the photo, behind a cantaloupe leaf. There is a dark, baby cantaloupe! I am still not holding out much hope for it ripening because if you zoom out… DSC_5090You can see I planted it at the base of a forest of sunflowers. There are actually two cantaloupe plants. Neither are growing very much because of all the shade they are getting!

We’re still harvesting about 2 zucchini and cucumbers each day. We are getting enough beans to eat them about 3x/week.DSC_5082DSC_5015(Another spaghetti squash was found when ripping up the corn patch.) DSC_5083Our tomato harvests are still going strong; though we are still letting them ‘counter-ripen’ because of the splitting.DSC_5085All of our red potatoes we were storing in the basement have been eaten. Now we are on to Yukon Gold and Purple potatoes. I have been harvesting the potatoes from the most shaded part of the patch to the part that gets the most sun. The question is, are they getting bigger as I pick them because they are getting more sun? or because they had more time to grow…?DSC_5084Even with all of our corn issues, we were still able to harvest a 5 gallon bucketful as we were cleaning out the patch.DSC_5016My daughter was able to harvest her first pumpkin (she kicked a pumpkin off the porch last fall…Voila!)DSC_5013We are continuing to harvest and dry marigolds to feed the chickens this winter.Nieto Family - July 26 14 - 0158 Nieto Family - July 26 14 - 0160 Nieto Family - July 26 14 - 0161 Nieto Family - July 26 14 - 0381Hopefully, between these and sunflower seeds, our feed bill won’t be quite as high.

We are loving all of the free (other than seed cost), healthy (no spray, organic or otherwise) produce! 🙂 Here are some ways we consumed it this week.

We had pizza one night. One was veggie pizza with our peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes. The other was a kale (ours), artichoke pizza. We had snaps and spaghetti squash as sides.

DSC_5074Another night, we had bean burgers, roasted potatoes, steamed corn and snaps, and zucchini quiche. Everyone had already started to dig in before I remembered to snap a picture 🙂 This is easily my favorite meal and seeing how everyone asked for seconds, I don’t think they hate it too much either 😉 DSC_5086Head on over to Daphne’s Dandelions to see what everyone else was able to harvest this week!

Harvest Monday

July 28, 2014

  • Fruit production has really slowed down these days. I think this may be the last week of blueberries. We may have gotten 2 quarts this week, total.DSC_4824 DSC_4859 We harvested some strawberries but again, production is slowing.DSC_4806 DSC_4830
  • Our raspberry plants are not producing any fruits.
  • I planted cantaloupe seeds right at the base of the sunflower circles so they are not growing very quickly at all. The sunflowers are 10 feet tall or taller now and are great shade producers!
  • The watermelon seems to be doing well. We rushed into harvesting one this week and were sourly disappointed :\ I learned my lesson!

DSC_4845On the other hand, non-fruit harvests are picking up!We harvested our first corn this week! They are quite large.DSC_4808 DSC_4809I planted heirloom and some hybrid. Can you guess which is which? 😉DSC_4810 DSC_4840We were able to harvest more in the middle of the week.DSC_4839(Along with some cucumbers)

We harvested the last of our spring carrots this week 😦 Need.to.plant.MORE.DSC_4783Other harvests from the beginning of the week…DSC_4859Beans DSC_4807Kale DSC_4838 DSC_4782LOTS of zucchini DSC_4822 DSC_4860Tomatoes DSC_4887and Peppers…(Bounty from the earlier part of the week)

At the end of the week, we were able to harvest more zucchini, cucumbers, beans, corn, tomatoes, and spaghetti squash. We also harvested some marigolds for the chickens.Nieto Family - July 26 14 - 0062 Nieto Family - July 26 14 - 0060Nieto Family - July 26 14 - 0155(It may look just about the same but other than a few zucchini and a few cucumbers, this is ALL new produce! I am having to ‘counter-ripen’ most of my tomatoes because of all the rain we’re getting. They’re all splitting and if I leave them on the vine to ripen, they completely burst open!)

The squash bugs had overtaken the spaghetti squash patch so I decided to just rip it up. We had 10 squashes that were ripe enough to harvest.Nieto Family - July 26 14 - 0061 They will cure on the counter for about a week before I put them in the basement to store.

What are you harvesting? Head on over to Daphne’s Dandelions to see what other gardeners are harvesting around the world.

Harvest Monday

July 21, 2014

Sorry for the silence. I’ve been having blogging issues. They’re not fully fixed but hopefully they will be soon 🙂

We are getting more variety these days!

The blueberries have finally slowed down. Instead of getting 8 quarts of blueberries/day, last week we got 13 quarts for the whole week and this week only 8. Still plenty to feed us (along with strawberries) but none to freeze.DSC_4752 Nieto Family - July 09 14 - 0001 DSC_4740

Next week, I think we’ll be able to harvest our first watermelon! 🙂 We have raspberry canes also but no berries. I wonder why. We’ve never had much luck with raspberries. Hopefully one year they will take off. I worry it is the climate. Is zone 7b too hot for raspberries? I realize we will have to buy fruit in the winter months but I would love to not buy fruit from the store during the summer months!

As you can see, we are getting zucchinis! We were able to harvest our first zucchini two weeks ago. It was very exciting since last year, I did not have any and already this year, squash bugs have killed two zucchini plants. Now, we are getting about 2/day and I am running out of ways to eat them 🙂DSC_4735 DSC_4755 Nieto Family - July 07 14 - 0011 Nieto Family - July 07 14 - 0015

We are getting about two cucumbers and a handful of tomatoes daily. I planted a lot of colored bell peppers so though there are a lot on the plants, I am still waiting for them to ripen fully. We have harvested a few green ones while we wait on the rest. I am just finishing up the gallon freezer bag full of diced peppers from last summer. It worked out perfectly. Only problem — I can’t remember if I had two bags of peppers or only one…

We officially are not harvesting lettuce anymore. It all had to be ripped up. WAY too bitter from all the mid-90 degree days. I have some baby red romaine growing so we’ll see in a week or two how that tastes but until then, no lettuce. We can still (theoretically) have salads…with kale. There are only two problems:

  1. With lettuce, we just have lettuce, no dressing. With kale, I have to marinate (more fore-thought)
  2. The cabbage moths are out like CRAZY. My kale that looked so beautiful this past month are holey now 😦 I have to throw half of it to the chickens. So sad.

Nieto Family - July 07 14 - 0005 DSC_4739We are able to harvest beans once a week. I need to remember to plant beans in a row from now on. When they are in a block, they are much more difficult to harvest. I am also thinking about growing the purple variety just so I can harvest more easily (more easily visible)!Nieto Family - July 07 14 - 0007Another thought on beans…I grew pole beans around my corn mainly for the purpose of annoying the raccoons. However, I am unable to harvest the vast majority and that is just a waste. So, I was thinking, maybe next year, I can plant my pinto & black beans around my corn…

  1. It will climb the corn, taking care of the raccoon issue.
  2. AND I won’t need to harvest them until I harvest the corn so I won’t be missing out on my bean harvest!

Sounds too simple…there must be an issue…but I can’t think of one yet. We’ll see how it works next year, if I can remember 😉

The last thing on the harvest tally this week is potatoes. I was just picking potatoes as we needed them but the red potatoes started looking…not smooth? I read somewhere that red potatoes are best eaten ‘new’ and if they are in the ground too long, they will become hollow. So I went ahead and pulled all of the red potatoes. I did it at dusk and when I was planting some kale seeds this week (very shallowly), I raked a potato up. I’m sure I missed some. I just hope it was not too many._DSC6675 The potatoes are in the basement, in a plastic milk crate, stacked and covered with newspaper. We are using these first. The other two types of potatoes we have are yukon gold and purple. What I want to do is leave them in the ground (until first frost) and use them as needed, rather than having to pull them all at once. Is that something I can do? Or do I need to pull them all as soon as the plants die back? I need some gardening advice (per usual)!

We also pulled our first corn but I can’t seem to find any pictures right now…

I’m trying to find a way to eat all of these veggies. I am fine with monotony — same veggies, cooked the same way, every night — but I’m afraid after a little while, my kids will say ENOUGH. So I am trying to find a variety of ways to cook them, healthily.

One night, we had steamed corn, potatoes, and green beans and zucchini tater tots. Another night we had the same thing, but this time with zucchini fritters (we like the tots better). DSC_4749Later in the week, we had pasta primavera, zucchini quiche, and steamed corn on the cob. It was SO beautiful! We used our zucchini, bell peppers, yellow squash, onions, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and eggs. It was a bit time consuming & I do have a 2mo who likes to be held A LOT. But I decided next time, if I have someone home to hold the cutie patootey, I’m also going to make kale salad and mashed potatoes. Other than cucumbers, that will take care of  ALL we have been harvesting from the garden 🙂 And fruit for dessert, of course…maybe some banana, blueberry, strawberry ‘ice cream’. Our favorite!

The sad news: no pictures. The camera wasn’t working and my husband was away with all of his cameras (wedding photographer). I WILL be making that supper many more times though so pictures will come eventually. Everyone but the 2yo loved it. He was just skeptical because he couldn’t tell what everything was. He loves cherry tomatoes but because I cut them up, it took a lot of convincing to get him to try them. Silly boy.

Can you tell I’m trying to be especially creative with zucchini? I have never had luck growing zucchini but this year, I have three plants that are producing wonderfully! They are in the old pea patch. Everything seems to do well in that area. It was prepped by the chickens last summer. I used 3 zucchini in our supper last night and we still have 7 on the counter! I know I could freeze it but I would rather use it fresh 🙂

The mama hen, with the 4 week old chick, has started laying again! Crazy. And I think our other chick (of the rooster/hen pair) may be laying…I don’t know how to tell without looking at her bottom though & that ain’t happenin’. Her comb is getting red though. She (and the rooster/her brother) are my daughter’s and she wants to get paid for the eggs so we do need to know when she starts laying…question is: is is worth it to isolate her to see?

Head on over to Daphne’s Dandelions to see what other gardeners around the world are harvesting! 🙂