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urban gardens in Kerala

Check out this article in Caravan: it seems that the state of Kerala has a "vegetable initiative for urban clusters". Kerala's State Horticulture Mission might be a good partner in localising Growstuff to Malayalam. :-)

Miracle of winter

Last year my potted hyacinths were a bit sad and not at all the lovely blue they should have been. No flowers at all! So I separated the bulbs and dug them in under the tree. Today two little shoots are peeking up out of the dirt. Hopefully all four have survived and there'll be some pretty flowers in a little while.

The curly parsley, Vietnamese mint and brussels sprout are doing well. The marigolds are having a sad and the flat leaf parsley is making seeds which I am directing over a flat wide pot of dirt.

The tarragon appears to have died off but there are several tarragon-like shoots around the stick.

It appears the watercress has jumped a pot as there are two seedlings that look a lot like watercress in a pot I'd put a rescued marigold in.

UI issues with finding the "request new crops" page

I emailed a link to Growstuff to a friend of mine. He commented that he couldn't find a link to the page to request a new crop, and since the fixed list doesn't include several things he grows, he gave up. I sent him a link to the Request New Crops page, but maybe the link could be featured more prominently so that people trying to add a new crop will find it.

Then, he commented that he didn't see a way to comment on the "request new crops" post. I suggested maybe it was because he wasn't logged in, and indeed, he wasn't. So in addition, maybe it could be made clearer that you need to log in to post a comment -- not seeing any "comment" boxes/buttons is confusing. Also, it sounds like the site is perhaps not remembering logins for very long? (He said he was logged out automatically while still browsing.)

Just thought I'd pass along the feedback :-)

Yard long beans vs black-eyed peas

I have been assuming that the beans growing in my garden (that are finally taking off and seem healthy, Y A Y) are yard long beans because they match the picture on the package, and I want yard long beans. But recently (partly because the immature pods are getting thicker but not getting longer, at least not yet) it occurred to me that I planted black-eyed peas as an afterthought and I'm not sure what they look like.

I looked them up and they looked just the same. I spent some time trying to find an identifying difference other than the mature fruit. But the leaves look the same, the flowers look the same, the immature fruit look the same! It seems the flowers can be yellow or purple for both. I started wondering if they're related.

Then I noticed the scientific name.

Yard long beans are Vigna unguiculata sesquipedalis. Black-eyed peas are Vigna unguiculata unguiculata. They're the same species, different subspecies.

In contrast, most snap and dry beans are Phaseolus vulgaris. (Runner beans are Phaseolus coccineus. Limas are Phaseolus lunatus. Fava beans are Vicia faba, and of course soy is Glycine max.)

So that answers that. I guess the bad news is I won't know which I'm growing until the pods are closer to mature, but the good news is if they're black-eyed peas, I can use the immature pods in any recipe that calls for yard-long beans, and get the mature crop too if I don't go too crazy with the young pods. I guess that means that the black-eyes would be more versatile so maybe I should be hoping that's what I have! Or some of each, that would be good too.

I guess it also means if some of each did come up, I'd better not save seeds, unless I want to grow something weird.

Whether black-eyed peas or yard-long beans, I hope these do well because brief research shows that V. unguiculata (referred to as a group as cowpeas) is a great crop. Cowpeas love hot weather, and do well in part shade. Next year I want to grow some 3 sisters plantings at the top of the hill where the corn will provide evening shade for the tomatoes without blocking the morning sun; if I can't get my hands on some rattlesnake beans for the purpose, cowpeas would probably be a good alternative. And of course I always need plants to grow on the shade trellises, though I'd prefer something that was further along by this time of year. They're nitrogen-fixing of course, and not only are the pods a versatile food resource with lots of use in asian cuisine, but the young leaves are useful as a cooked green - very nutritious and high in protein. No wonder the earwigs went crazy on them during the spring!

As a side note - Although I inoculate all my legumes before planting, it seems that the Vignas that are doing well are the ones that I planted in potting soil and are receiving regular feeding (because they're growing with melons and I have to feed the melons). So that's weird.

link to list of known issues

Should the list of known issues be to the herokuapp.com URL rather than to the post on growstuff.org? I could see a reason to go either way.

Completely off topic: I just placed an order for a paid account and saw that my order number is not salted/obscured/etc.; nice for transparency, as I see about how many orders Growstuff has had and I get to celebrate my early adopter coolness. :) And thank you for ensuring that the shop now says "You currently have a paid membership, and can't buy another one at this time" and stops me from overpaying accidentally!

Diggers order

Ordered a few things from the Diggers Club, some winter stuff and also some things I want to grow as soon as spring arrives (which is actually quite soon, especially if I start seedlings indoors first -- last frost here is early September, which means starting seedlings around the end of July or start of August, just a few weeks away.)

  • microgreens - winter mix
  • calendula (pot marigold)
  • borage
  • beans (blue lake)
  • tomatillos
  • radish (heirloom mix)
  • tomatoes (lemon drop, black cherry)

Damn, just realised I forgot to order coriander. Bah! Oh well, might have to make another order. What a tragedy. *starts new list*

"Teggi bean"

We bought a bunch of plant starts from a Korean greenhouse, and the owner threw in some free "teggi bean" starts. Anyone have any experience with teggi beans or ideas of what sort of soil, shade, etc they'd like?

Eep! What's this on my chard?

I've got some chard growing in containers in my backyard. It's been doing OK for a year, but now it's winter so it's only getting partial sun. Today I noticed that one container is looking a bit sadder than the other. When I went to examine it, I found this:

something on my chard

They look like little brown-black egg cases or something. Anyone know what they are, or how to get rid of them without giving up on the plants?

The first snowpea bud

I've been away for a couple of weeks (travelling to the US for a conference). Now I'm back, it's great to take stock of where the garden's at.

The most exciting thing: snowpeas! I planted them on the 14th of April (ha, thanks, Growstuff!) so it's been a little more than 2 months. They're now taller than I am, bushy, luxuriant, and this morning I saw the first tiny flower bud that means I'll have actual snowpeas soon.

Snowpea flower

This is the first time I've grown snowpeas and I'm really enjoying them. They require basically no attention once you've set them up with something to climb. I hope they're productive! Very much tempted to buy some more stakes so I can plant a second lot while these are still going. Will need one of the housemates (or a friend) with a car, however, as carrying a dozen tall bamboo stakes home from CERES seems a bit awkward on the bike/walking/PT.

(Aside: when I grow up, I will have a bamboo grove so that I never have to pay money for stakes again.)

Parsley: going wild all over the place! The first parsley we planted when we moved in here (October 2011) went to seed over the summer. I saved a lot of it in a ziploc (anyone want some?) and scattered handfuls around intentionally, wherever I wanted parsley to be. Apart from that, I'm also finding it self-seeding between the paving stones of the paths, in the lawn, and in a couple of pots full of dead/unwanted plants that I've inherited and haven't bothered throwing out yet. Oh, and in between any other intentional planting in the other containers.

So, I need to thin it and start using it. I've been bookmarking parsley recipes and first up, today, I'm going to make a minestrone/ribollita/something-along-those-lines type of soup with chard from the garden and a parsley-lemon-garlic gremolata to go on top. I'm also eyeing white bean salad with tuna and parsley (would make good lunches) and the Greek-style stewed parsley which I think would be great with toast and an egg for breakfast. I'm trying to avoid tabbouleh, because yawn, and also because I like it best in summer with tomato and cucumber. But there is a version of it that I sometimes make with currants, toasted slivered almonds, and finely chopped Moroccan-style preserved lemon, that is pretty winter-appropriate.

Speaking of chard, it's still soldiering away like it does. As I said, I'll use some in soup. I think I want to get another couple of tubs-full going; the two tubs we currently have give me a chard-oriented meal every couple of weeks, but I'd be happy to have more. Or perhaps I should just be feeding them more and encouraging them to grow more luxuriantly? Anyway, these ones won't last forever -- they're about a year old now -- so it's probably good to get the next generation started.

As well as the parsley growing all over the place, we have a lot of self-seeded nasturtiums. They're coming up all over the back lawn where they were last year, and around the compost bins where the ripped-up plants were thrown when they were done. I'm also finding them popping up in containers here and there. Finally, the snow pea seeds I bought from Eden Seeds seem to have had a couple of nasturtiums mixed in, so I've got yet more coming up among the peas. I'm actually fine with this (though I called them to let them know they might want to check their quality control), though I'm hoping they're a wildly different variety from the ones we already have, so we get some new colours. Last spring the nasturtiums were full of whiteflies in the spring, so we pulled them up, but it didn't seem to help much -- the whiteflies were everywhere, as other Melbourne gardeners will attest. So this year I think I'm just going to let them do their thing, and assume that they're drawing the whiteflies away from the other plants. I think we need more pollinator-attracting flowers in our garden anyway.

Apart from that, I have two chilli peppers (one thai, one jalapeno) that I'm trying to over-winter, which I think I'd better bring indoors now the weather is cooling down, and a tomato that also seems to want to go for another year -- I cut it back to pretty much nothing in preparation for digging up the root ball, but it resprouted and seems to be thriving. It was my favourite tomato last summer, so I'm tempted to let it try. Not sure I have room for it inside, though. We shall see.

Failures so far this winter: brassicas, generally. Had some reasonable success with bok choy (currently being used in Asian-style soups) and mustard greens (turned into saag a couple of weeks ago) but the kale and purple sprouting broccoli that I planted in seed trays never got beyond about a centimetre high and didn't really seem ready to plant out. I might have another shot now I'm home for a while and can put some effort into them.

How's everyone else's southern-hemisphere winter gardens coming along?

23 June

I stopped at the farmers' market on Thursday and one of the booths was selling HUGE seedlings at mind-blowingly cheap prices. So I bought a spaghetti squash and a watermelon, and asked hopefully if he had any eggplant. (No, but he said to check back next week, and if he had any left and remembered he'd bring some. I'm not holding my breath.)

Dropped both the squash and the watermelon into the garden, and they look like they're doing well, three days in. It's meant to storm this evening, but if it doesn't I'll have to go out and water, which I find inexplicably dreadful. It shouldn't be that bad--twenty minutes sitting on the steps and squirting things with the hose--but I hate doing it, for some reason.

I also picked up rosemary and thyme plants, and may try to grab coriander and sage next week. (A dollar a pot is hard to argue, and I often have that much change in my car, so...) I'm currently debating putting some of the basil directly into the ground--the garden proper gets more light than the porch rails do, and I wonder if the basil would be doing better there. It's not doing badly, quite, just...looking a bit sad. Hopefully it won't die. I have a bad history with basil and seem to kill it more often than not, so I'm not wildly optimistic about it.

Canning and last-minute summer planting

Got way behind on my summer planting due to cherry season starting a few weeks early. On the other hand I have 50 lbs of cherries canned, so that's good.

You guys, the new Pomona's low-sugar jam book (which I am, er, using with Ball low-sugar pectin) is awesome. Cherry-port preserves. Serious crack. Everyone loves them.

The earwigs are slowing down and the plants in my garden are starting to recover from the attacks. Some did not make it but enough melons made it that I had to actually thin the mound. And the tomatoes are doing well, which is of course the important thing. And the chard survived except for the one plant that bolted, and it's now putting out new leaves that actually have, you know, some leaf on them. Like something you might be able to eat.

In honor of maybe being able to plant things without them getting devoured, last weekend I frantically went to the hardware store (I was far too busy to make it to the garden center) and bought the only pepper they had that looked like it might survive the week. I planted it far away from my other nightshades you may be sure! Also the least sad squash, and two basil plants.

So far so good. But this weekend I need to get to the garden center and locate a cucumber, and some better peppers and an eggplant.

Oh, also something is eating one onion per day from below, and then filling in the tunnel behind it. I can't figure out what it is. I wish it would not eat my onions. It ate some of my garlic too. I think that next year I may put my alliums in pots.

18 June

Today I went to the hardware store and, on the clearance rack, discovered an astonishingly robust acorn squash plant for 99c. Obviously I brought it home and popped it into the garden. I'm excited, as squash and eggplant were the two things that I'd really wanted to do and hadn't been able to find seedlings for. (I'm still looking for eggplant, hoping against hope that someone has a decent looking plant this late in the season. Maybe I should give up? But...eggplant!)

I've spent most of the last two weeks being quite ill, and am relieved that the garden doesn't seem to have suffered for my absence. There's been a lot of rain, and, to my surprise, my tomatoes are starting to set. Several of the plants have flowers or buds, and two of them have tiny green tomatoes already! I'm pretty sure that this is officially my most successful garden ever, just with that. Embarrassing but true.

In less happy news, my coriander, which wasn't looking so great to begin with, has died tragically. I'm hoping that I can find some thyme or rosemary to put in its pot. I still have both basil plants, one standard and one bush, though the bush one is starting to flower a bit and the standard is looking rather droopy. Possibly I'm just not great with herbs.

I also discovered that the "flower" that I'd found so pretty is actually trailing nightshade, so I've started ripping that out. I'd planned to leave it, because it was quite attractive when it was flowering, but I'm not comfortable having something toxic growing right next to my food garden--and right where my dogs like to whuffle about in the dirt. I pulled out a big patch of it today, and will tackle some more tomorrow. Guess this means that I've got space for autumn crops, at least!

Problems

(Originally posted December 18, 2012 at 07:40)

One of my borage plants is limp. I've tried: tying it up, not watering it, watering it. The other, which gets the same sun, water and tying up is as tall and straight as you could hope for. Challenge. The parsley keeps wanting to bolt. It might need to go further under the tree. Beetroot leaves continue to be the tastiest of greens.

Earliest two tomatoes still not green.

The rescued rosemary is sitting in its new pot doing pretty much nothing, which I'm taking as a good sign.

Felicity

(Originally posted December 10, 2012 at 11:07)

This afternoon E, earning her gin and tonic with borage flower ice cubes like a boss, identified a tiny rosemary seedling growing in a paving crack in my courtyard. I'm being careful to step around it until I have time to get more dirt to pot it.

Felicitious plant are the best plants. This will make the third seedling I've found in the paving cracks, the other two being a fern which is going gangbusters, and a dark green, glossy leaved thing that I reckon makes a hedge or similar big blocky item of gardenage, also fairly happy and leafy.

Rosemary!

The trouble with a sustainable life

(Originally posted December 09, 2012 at 01:28)

Pot gardening needs a little extra planning when you've only you and a non-cargo bike to haul large pots and potting mix. The second nearest hardware will deliver, but only once a week and at farmer's market time, which is a bit of a cow. Still, the deliver for free and come when they say they will.

This morning I potted out two pots of borage (come on down, bees), a pineapple sage and topped up the beetroot pots, which seemed to me to be a little too shallowly planted. One is of the borage is either two plants very close together or one plant with two main stems. Probably two plants but I didn't want to stress the roots unnecessarily so they can just grow together and see how they go.

Potted out Vietnamese mint, dill and baby bok choy, which may have been in its seedling punnet too long. It does seem to have made new shoots so we'll see.

Put some basil seedlings in a pot for indoors as the bugs have sorely shredded my original basil. I suppose it's kept them away from everything else?

The tomatoes have little white critters on the undersides of the leaves and the big leaves are getting a bit holey, so I sprayed it them with pyrethrum spray. I will have to move the tomatoes further into the sun as the tree has overtaken them. However, the only place to put them that is not in the way of anything else, such as the tap, the outdoor power point or the door, leaves them squarely in the spot that Banana the cat uses to climb the fence to get on the roof. Banana is not my cat, but my garden and roof are part of his twice daily route. He's a cat of insistent habit and outdoor nature. I wouldn't put it past him to try and climb the tomato bushes if they are in his way. He's my major pest, but at least I've stopped him pissing in the dirt next to the kitchen window.

The tomato triffid, bulbs and planting dates.

(Originally posted December 01, 2012 at 11:47)

One of my tomato plant is now quite tall, taller than me. I was complaining to a friend today that I didn't know where I'd get the next stake from if it had to be taller than 6ft. She, rather wryly I thought, suggested I pinch out top shoots. What kind of common sense it that? At any rate, that plant can consider itself properly pinched and thwarted from its towering ambition.

The sun covers a linear half of the courtyard now. Everything is getting plenty of sun.

A pigeon is building a ratty nest in the tree. It's kind of charming, but experienced people tell me pigeons are rubbish at nests and to expect some smashed eggs at some point. I'm not convinced I want a nesting bird in my tree while it's fruiting. But who knows if there'll be fruit?

The chervil has died off, the hyacinths never flowered. I'm going to leave them in the ground, along with the two lilies of the valley, which did flower most prettily. Go on, little bulbs. Be amazing next year.

Historical notes for this year's garden:

October 27, 2012 Beetroot and lettuce planted. Beetroot in new large pots, lettuce replace rocket.

September 22/23, 2012 Three tomatoes planted in a superceded recycling bin, basil planted around them.

September 9, 2012 Today was gorgeous, a perfect true Spring day, warm in the sun, cool but not exactly chill in the shade, and with very little breeze.

To celebrate there was gardening. I pruned all the diseased nectarine leaves I could see. Naturally they were mostly near the blossoms and pretty much all at the top of the tree, near the end of the reach of my long handled secateurs.

I cut back the purple flowering shrub. Its leaves are yellow and black spotted which seems not a good sign.

When I planted out the hyacinth bulbs under the tree, I dug up some oval shaped objects. They appear to be charcoal and were perhaps part of the original garden bed. I shoved them in the dirt around the chervil as I planted that on enough of a little slope that the water runs away when I water it. This gardening business requires thought and planning, it seems.

At 1.30 the sun reached half way down the south fence.

September 8, 2012 Food plants: mint, majoram, chervil, thyme, watercress, flat leaf parsley, rocket gone to seed but with pretty flowers, nectarine tree.

Chervil, thyme, watercress and parsley from the same market guy.

Non-food plants: 2 x hydrangeas, 4 x hyacinths, several madonna lilies (four pots, various sizes), unidentified palm, unidentified fern, unidentified plant with glossy leaves, unidentified shrub with purple flowers.

Everything except the tree, hyacinths and the chervil are in pots. The chervil and hyacinths are under the tree.

The tree's flowers came out last weekend and leaves have followed swiftly. It's got the curly disease still. I pulled off affected leaves earlier this week but there are more in evidence today. It may be affecting the parsley. I don't know if it's a disease that affects parsley. None of the other non-food plants have ever been affected, nor were the mint, marjoram and rocket which all date from spring/summer 2011.

The chervil is having a grand time under the tree. Couldn't be happier or leafier.

I have likely planted the hyacinth bulbs too late. The most vigorous, the largest bulb, has leaves about 2 inches high, the next two in size less than an inch, the tiniest - which was hardly the size of a small shelled hazelnut - is barely poking out of the dirt.

Problems

(Originally posted December 18, 2012 at 07:40 ) One of my borage plants is limp. I've tried: tying it up, not watering it, watering it. The other, which gets the same sun, water and tying up is as tall and straight as you could hope for. Challenge. The parsley keeps wanting to bolt. It might need to go further under the tree. Beetroot leaves continue to be the tastiest of greens.

Earliest two tomatoes still not green.

The rescued rosemary is sitting in its new pot doing pretty much nothing, which I'm taking as a good sign.

Things to plant in shade?

Due to some poor planning on my part, I've got a section of raised garden bed that's completely shaded by asparagus once it's grown out after harvesting. I had some sad little pepper plants there, but they weren't growing at all. They've doubled in size since I moved them to sun.

Any suggestions? I'm in Kansas, USA.

Leaf matter does indeed turn into dirt

The recent rains defoliated the tree faster than usual. The same rains deterred me from clearing up the leaves. That rotting business happens really quickly when you've got enough leaves and enough water.

The sugar snap peas seedlings are less than happy, the brussels sprout is full of vim. Both parsleys, flat and curly, are doing well.

Many things happening!

So, update from last time:

Most of the beets I transplanted are still 'alive', and by 'alive' I mean 'the leaves are sticky-uppy and don't look wilted'. They haven't been growing much, though, so it may be a futile effort (on the other hand, beets have a long growing season, maybe they'll turn into a 'second planting'.) The non-transplanted beets are getting big and bushy again; I have no idea if they are making good beetroot, though. The tomato plants I put in the hanging planter died; possibly they were overwatered, possibly they were damaged when I tried to put them in the pot (which was clearly designed to take nursery plants that had grown up in confinement, not feral children off the streets.) I have a nasty suspicion that the design of the planter actually squeezed the life out of them, though; one was doing alright for awhile, and then overnight it dropped down a few inches in the planter and the section of stem that had come through the slit in it was crushed flat.

As a result I've decided to let the rest of the tomatoes live on in their own way. Enough of them are growing tall enough that we will certainly not be short of tomatoes, if they actually fruit; no blossoms yet, but there are buds coming on the biggest ones.

The beans and squash have been blossoming, though! Even the ones that never really throve and only have three or four leaves are still flowering like crazy. The bean plants have been industriously growing beans: I had my first harvest of five yellow wax beans this week! No sign of actual fruit on any of the zucchini yet, but maybe I just don't know what to look for; I'm not worried.

In the meantime, we have acquired several more tomato plants and some pots of herbs and lettuce that were donated to our church sale and not bought, so they came home with us. I haven't done anything with them yet; they're still sitting by the side of the house in their pots (haven't watered them either, but considering how much rain we've been getting...) I haven't decided if I'm going to attempt to reload the hanging planter with tomatoes or not; these ones are really bigger than the instructions suggested for replanting. On the other hand, not like I need more tomato plants. I honestly don't care about the herbs: I am not big for using herbs; my idea of fancy seasoning is 'maybe a little salt or some onion and LOTS OF BUTTER' and I hate pesto-type stuff. I could put them out by the driveway just as pretty groundcover but betcha they'd die there.

The lettuce is tempting, but some of it's flowering already, and I get the impression that it's not good to eat after that...? Anyone have advice on fancy multicolored lettuce?

Meanwhile something has built a nest and filled it with eggs in the coils our our garden hose. Which I mess with at least once a week, usually more. We're thinking they're very bad parents and abandoned the nest right away, though, since we haven't see any parents around. (I'm not good at birdnesting: Eastern US, about the size of robin's eggs, scruffy but nest-shaped nest, lots of eggs, white-cream with red-to-black freckles, very poor choice of location: anybody have a guess?)

Weather in southern England this year.

The growing season is all over the place here currently. The winter was still here in Mid May when we had the last snow. We now have the last of the daffs with foxgloves, and all manner of things growing together which normally would never naturally be seen together. This means that with a temperature of just 11C on what is almost the longest day of the year, will give you an idea of the awful time gardens are having here. The apple blossom, was so late, and then was still here just over a week ago. There appears to be a good crop, but the June drop is still to happen, will it?

I still have most plants not in the growing beds, as the weather has been so cold and damp, I did not start planting inside till May, before would have led to bolting and death for many. Planting so late has cause some long stringy seedlings, which are not enjoying being potted on or even direct planting out.
The courgettes suffered most and had to be replanted. The Squash which I planted direct as now so late, still have not appeared three weeks latter.

The Onions and Garlic planted late last year, just do not seem to have their bulbs growing, the foliage is starting to fail, but I am sure we will not still be eating our own crops now next year.

I am expecting this to be a really bad growing year.

Sourdough tips?

Looks like we're going to start making sourdough bread when I get back from my upcoming trip. I've been baking other kinds of yeast bread for a while now, and have good sources of organic flour, etc. Does anyone have any recommended guides/tips/advice for sourdough baking?

What's next?

For months now, we've been working on a set of features which we figured was the minimum with which we could launch Growstuff to the public. We wanted people to be able to track what they'd planted, upload pics of what they're growing, find other members near them, and discuss food gardening with each other. We've got this far, and so... public launch!

However, that doesn't mean we're finished. Oh no, not by a long shot. We have bucketloads of things still to build, and you'll see new features being added all the time -- keep an eye on this forum for a post each time we push new code up to the site.

I wanted to take this opportunity to pause and say, what next? I know what I'd like to do next, but what would you like to see next? What are you hoping to get from Growstuff? What is it lacking right now that it really really needs in order to be useful to you?

If you're interested, you can take a look at our tracker to see what features we're already thinking about, but do feel free to mention any idea at all, whether it's in the tracker or not.

If it helps at all, here are some leading questions you might like to answer, but feel free to ignore them and write whatever comes to mind if you prefer.

1) What parts of Growstuff are working for you/what do you like at present? 2) What's missing, that would be really useful to you? 3) What really bugs you and you wish we could fix it ASAP? 4) What would make you use Growstuff more often/spend more time here?

Plant identification?

I just got a house, and the front garden has a bunch of things that I don't recognize. Since mulberry, grape, and rhubarb have been identified in that bed, I wouldn't be surprised to find these are also edibles. I just don't know what they are. Ideas?

something with a cone shaped top

something tall with lots of narrow leaves

some sort of vine

a big plant with striped leaves

Note in case this helps narrow down: I'm in Maryland, USA.

Garden Design Tools?

Hi,

I have moved to a new house, with a new garden (really new! As in, the previous owner cleared the bush yard, put in a retaining wall and established grass, immediately before selling it!). We plan to replace the lovely front lawn with more lovely fruit trees and a decent vegie patch. We have a general idea in mind of what we want to do with it, but we'd like to lay it out first, and optimise our space. (At my last place, I got carried away with enthusiasm and planted out a mulberry which had been in a pot... and while I thought about how much space it would need, so I planted it in the middle of the yard—I didn't think about what else I might want to put around it, which rather hampered all my future decisions:-( )

So, I'm after your suggestions as to your favourite garden design/layout tools. Currently I have a nearmap photo (minus scale, but some measuring should fix that), and ideas... how could I turn that into a garden plan?

Thanks Fe

Public launch! (and new features)

Hi everyone,

Last night pozorvlak and I did a code push to the site, which contains the final features we wanted in place before our public launch. These are, most importantly:

  • Crop photos: photos you post on your plantings now show up on the crops page. You can see some examples on the second page of the crops index (and presumably more as people upload more photos).
  • Paid accounts: you can now purchase a paid account, either as an annual subscription or as a "seed account" which gives you paid features forever. This helps support our operational and development expenses, and keeps Growstuff growing, so please consider buying one.

Also:

  • Logged in homepage now shows activity from around the site, not just your own activity
  • RSS bugfix: there were problems with the comments feed we pushed the other day, which are now fixed

I'll be posting more shortly, with details about paid accounts etc. Stay tuned!

Clay & cherries

I'll be moving into my house in a week. I've been holding off on transplanting my seedlings, but today I thought I'd move the squash and just put it in the ground rather than wait til we can get raised beds built (decided to go with table-style raised beds, made from cast off pallets, with a plastic lining). Nope! The clay content is way too high. With the difficulty I had with a trowel, there's no way the roots would make it through. So, the container is sitting on the back deck, waiting.

Meanwhile, I pruned the definitely-cherry trees in the front yard (a few weeks ago I saw the flowers and was pretty darned sure they're cherry...today I saw the cherries) that are growing over the driveway and road at annoying-to-get-out-of-the-car height. I think there are two different varieties. One is about 10-15ft tall with 1cm cherries, deep red, and tart. The other is more sparse looking, I think weeping, with 1in cherries higher up, so I don't know how they taste. Skud suggested I post photos, so I'll do that after my next camera-toting visit to the house.

Oh, and discovery as of last week: we definitely have rabbits. And I don't mean that I have acquired (soft, fluffy, lovely) angoras.

ETA: Thanks to the British Natural Museum's cherry identifier I've determined that they are both wild cherry trees. The fruit can range 10-20mm and black or yellow-red. So, there ya go. One is 10mm black and the other is 20mm yellow-red. The yellow-reds are past their prime. They've all split.

New features: photos, crop improvements, RSS and more!

We just pushed a number of new features to the site, including:

  • Photos! You can now add photos to plantings, using Flickr. Stay tuned for lots of improvements in this area in the coming weeks. (Yes, we know you can only see the most recent few photos in your Flickr stream, for instance, and that there's not yet any way to delete them... we're on it!)
  • Crop improvements: we've done a bunch of behind-the-scenes work to improve the crop management interface, and to set up the hierarchical crops that we've been talking about for a while now. Shortly we'll be recruiting some "crop wranglers" to help us manage all the crops. Think that sounds like fun? Let me know.
  • RSS: we've made sure that markdown formatting appears properly in RSS feeds, and added an RSS feed for comments
  • Bugfix: don't allow blank garden names. Any old gardens that somehow managed to get a blank name have been renamed to "Garden"

There'll be more soon, so keep an eye on this forum or follow Growstuff on Twitter for updates.

Beans!! Beans all 'round!!

I planted my bush beans and pole beans on May 27th. They have all germinated and have their first set of leaves and are at least an inch tall. Probably a bit more. Today is June 2? GO BEANS.

Too Late for Starting? - Northeast USA

I live in Massachusetts in the US, and just found out that I do, indeed, have space for planting in the giant garden that is apparently shared between the neighborhood. Is it too late to start zucchinis and watermelons? What about sauce tomatoes? I've never tried to start anything this late in the season before and am wondering if I should just go buy transplants.

ETA: According to the google machine, our last frost date is usually the end of April and first frost is in October.

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