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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tire Garden Update

Our garden is still chugging along this year - we've had some interesting weather once again, lots of rain and some cool temperatures in May that we don't usually have, then straight into those 90-100 degree days with little in the way of rain or even afternoon showers.

Our pepper plants are doing very well in the tires - I have one banana pepper plant that I'm harvesting 6-8 peppers from just about every day. One of our green bell pepper planst is really setting nice fruit - I've harvested one pepper and there are 4 others on the way. We have several pepper plants and they are all doing well. Here's a photo of one of our Banana Pepper plants:
Our tomato plants are going great - the plants are as tall as our 6-foot privacy fence and are full of nice green tomatoes. I'm watering them consistently just about every day in this heat, so hopefully the plants will stick with me and not bolt from the heat.

We finished harvesting all of our greens and carrots a while ago. We have now planted mustard greens and some swiss chard in their place. These photos were taken at the end of June, this swiss chard is much taller now and just about ready to harvest this week.
We planted some bush black bean seeds for the first time this year - I'm anxious to see how these perform. So far they are doing great - they actually were sprouted up through the soil within 3 days of planting the seeds! And we've also recently planted some bush green beans, okra and a new round of pepper plants.

Our potatoes in tires have been a good experiment this year. We started with 6 tires of potatoes. After reading and research online, we learned that you can continue adding layers of tires and dirt as the potato foliage comes through and it will force the potatoes to continue setting more fruit - the hope is to get a very large yield by forcing the potatoes up and up through the dirt.

Well, our potatoes started to die off at about the 3rd tire and had to be harvested. We got about a dozen or so potatoes from each tire - we've harvested 3 of them so far. Here's a photo of the harvest from one plant - not too shabby:

Well, it turns out after looking into this a little further that there are only certain varieties of potatoes that do well when grown in tower conditions, that will continue to set fruit as they head to the top of the soil. Other potato varieties only set fruit in the bottom 6 inches of the soil, no matter how much dirt you put on top.

Turns out that the red and white potatoes that we planted (just regular old red and white potatoes from the grocery store that had sprouted) are the kind that set fruit in the bottom 6 inches no matter what.

Here's a great link to a blog in Seattle that chronicled his potato tower growing efforts. Even though we're not in the same growing zone here in TN - there is good information that you could use from this detailed info: Sinfonian's Square Foot Garden - Build As You Go Potato Bins.

The potatoes we did harvest were delicious, even though we didn't get a large enough harvest to hold over through the winter as we were hoping. We will be planting a succession crop of potatoes in the next several weeks that we'll harvest just before frost this fall.

Our garden is not anywhere near the size that I really want - I'd like to double the size for next spring. The difficulty here is the dirt is just so hard and not at all fertile. It takes bringing in a lot of rich, composted soil to get good gardening dirt from the start - which is expensive. We also don't have a tiller at the moment, so getting the dirt ready is a major task to undertake.

Hubby decided to find a "natural" way to get our ground started for next spring - he invested in what he is fondly calling our "hog-a-tiller". Yep, you guessed it - he came home a few weeks ago with a 10 week old pot-bellied piglet - children named her Wilma. We've made a 16x16 foot pen out of hog panels for her in the backyard over one of the spaces where we want to garden. She's happily rooting around and loosening the soil for us - I'll post more on this soon!

Did you plant your veggie garden this year? How is it growing? How is your harvest?

1 comment:

Kymber said...

Yay - tire garden updates are my favourite!
i am glad to see that your peppers are doing well...mine aren't doing anything at all! your tomatoes and swiss chard look great too! sorry to hear about your potatoe yield - although they look scrumptious!

i can't wait to see pics of the pig - what a great idea!!!!

our tire gardens are doing well this year - although living in ontario, canada means we can't plant as early as you guys - we planted in the last week of may-first week of june. everything is doing well minus the peppers - the tomatoes are about 5 feet tall and filled with little green tomatoes, the root veggies are doing well and the potatoes are thriving - this year we have the tires stacked 4 high - woohoo!

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