Thursday, March 24, 2011

Weekly Farm Update 3/24/11

Baby Snow  Peas
First off, I would like to say "Hello" to all the new followers. I am glad to see that somebody likes reading my posts. I hope you keep coming back!

I know why you are here and let's get to it. Updates for this week are here and hopefully will not disappoint.

We start off with the Snow Peas as they have begun to set fruit! There are little purple blossoms everywhere and more are on the way. These little guys will be good eaten fresh or cooked and I can't wait for them.

Squash w/ Mini Tee-pee


Next to peas I have moved in a squash plant and put up a small tee-pee. Of course, I don't know what kind but we shall see. I still haves space next to it but I"m not sure what will go in there or if I will simply leave it empty. This is the area where I sowed the first radish seeds of the season. Those radishes are gone and left a void but something will probably be put in. There is more rain expected for this week and I may not do anything until Sunday. Also, it gives me a little extra room to be able to clip the few lettuce plants back there.





Onions, Carrots & Lettuce

Next to the lettuce, the yellow round onions and carrots are getting bigger everyday. I believe these are the half-longs but not positive and full size carrots have been added to the raised beds. Before we get to the beds, it must be said that the original "greens" area is still providing us with salads about every other day or so. It is only two of us and we don't need much. Although, I know that the original plants will not make it long once the heat kicks in. For this reason, I planted a second bed, in a shadier spot, that will hopefully help. I also included some root vegetables and these continue to grow. The recent rain has beat them up a bit but they should hopefully perk up with the sun. The raised beds are up next and these have been almost all filled in with plants and plant supports.


The first bed includes 3 tomato plants and a "cage" of sorts has been constructed. The cage is made with the left-over panels from a set of wire shelf kit. These are those shelves that must be put together with those awful plastic pieces. I found a small box full of these and by only using zip ties, I came up with this. I originally wanted to make a trellis to support peas but since these are so heavy and sturdy, why not try using them as tomato supports. The 2 tomato plants near the edge don't have any support yet but I will probably just be adding bamboo tee-pees.

The middle bed still has the yard fabric covering it so the cats don't get in. The red onions sprouted and are getting tall tails. Many of the other root veggies in there have sprouted but are not very big and the 2-3 tomato plants are still short enough that they are fine under the fabric. I didn't take a picture of it because there isn't much change.

Tomato & Carrots Bed


The most active bed this week is the last one and it is ready for the season. I may need to add more supports throughout the season but  it should be fine for a while. I know I may have added too many tomato plants but some trimming should help.

I added supports which include, 3 tomato cages, a pair of U-Hoops and 2 bamboo stakes. I also added carrots between the plants and added some chicken wire to help protect those seeds from the cats. The tomato cages go almost all the way around but the holes are pretty big. I even tied the chicken wire pieces to all the supports to keep them in place.






My next photo serves a few purposes. One, I love showing my hardworking gnome and the lazy one asleep on the job. You can barely see him in the back sleeping but you can find a close up of the culprit in the photoset on Flickr.

The next purpose is to show off a second cage I made from the metal panels with a tomato plant inside it. I stuck some bars into the ground and tied the cage to it. I don't know if it was necessary but what the hay, better to be safe than sorry, right?




The last photo is all of my tomato plants still in containers. There are more in even smaller containers. I have moved 2-3 to 5 gallons containers and put in some takes to help support it. Along with tomatoes, I still have eggplant and different kinds of peppers still in their infancy. The heat hasn't really kicked in and once it does, I gotta water more often and they should take off.


I am not done transplanting though and I am just waiting for this rain to subside this weekend. I still want to put another 2-3 tomato plants out front. The squash plant out there has had a bloom or two but all male. We'll see how that goes.

This covers the farm/garden for this week and I will be back next week but there may be some changes. I am ecstatic about this last tidbit.. I found a JOB! Yep, you read that right. I will be working for an insurance company. I have enjoyed and hated my 2 unemployed years but I can't wait to start working again. For this reason, I may end up moving my weekly updates to Saturday or Sunday. I may not get home with enough light to be able to take the photos but we'll see.

Luis

The photo set for this week can be found HERE.
(Don't forget to look for that gnome caught sleeping on the job.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Our Grocery Store Coupon System

With the rising price of food, we all need to find ways to save as much money as possible. There are different ways that people keep track of coupons and some systems are better than others but I don't think that there are any wrong ways. This post will cover the system we use for keeping track of our coupons.

We try to keep it as simple as possible and it has worked for us.

We start with a simple 3 ring binder, Post-It flags and some sheet protectors for either 4x6 photos or baseball cards. The baseball card protectors are nice because they have more pockets but the other works just as well. These items can be purchased at most major stores including office supply stores and should not cost too much.

Now that you have the supplies necessary, it is time for some legwork. The next step is to go down the aisles of your grocery store and write down what is in each aisle. Before you start freaking out, you don't need to write every single item that is in it and just stick to the major groups that are shown on the large signs above each aisle.

While you are taking a breather, you can sort the coupons you may already have into separate stacks by aisles. My wife says she keeps about 2-3 pages per aisle but it may be more or less for somebody else. We are only two people and really don't buy that much. We try to stick to essentials and really don't deviate from that, unless there is some ridiculous price on something. Some items may be free when "stacking" coupons. (I may write a post on that subject.)

So, you've got around 20 stacks of coupons sitting in front of you. Now we must start putting them into the sleeves but remembering to keep them in order by aisle. However, keep in mind where you normally come into the grocery store. We normally start off in the produce section of the store and move to the left. The numbering of the aisles ends at the produce and goes backwards. If you usually start off in aisle 1 and go up from there, then you can start by numbering your first sheet "1". As you move along in the store, the numbers will ascend but we actually do the opposite. As you can see in the photo above, the first blue tab says "Produce" and the next one down is "21" and goes down from there. There is no "wrong" way to do it and it just matters how you normally do it. This makes it easier because you don't have to bounce aisle to aisle and you end up flipping pages every which way.

As you are filling the pockets with your coupons, keep in mind that 1 sheet per aisle may not be enough but 3-4 may be too many. If the coupons are for the same product, stick them in one pocket as this makes it easier than looking for multiple coupons in different places.  Remember that not all aisles will require the same amount of pages. If you find that you pick up more items in one aisle, give it more pages than an aisle where you don't find yourself in very often. For example, we buy more cereal than we do ice cream. (Although I wish the opposite were true but that is just the kid inside me talking.) The cereal aisle also has other breakfast foods and therefore will need more space but we don't buy as much ice cream. The cereal aisle in our book is 2-3 pages but the ice cream aisle is just 1. It is different for everybody and keep that in mind when sorting the amounts of pages but the great thing is that pages can always be added or even subtracted. 

When filling in the pockets with one aisle, remember to label. Grab one of those post-it flags and write the number of the aisle. Use as many pages as you need for the aisle and when moving to the next aisle, grab another flag to mark that number down. This will initially take some getting used to but will get easier with time. Also, remember to keep that aisle list as it will help guide you when adding coupons later. 

I think I've covered most of the initial set-up and you are now ready to go shopping!


Luis

Additional Notes: 

1. I know this system may not work for everybody and may need to be modified for personal preferences.

2. If shopping at multiple stores, multiple binders may be needed.

Helpful Links:

Post-It Flags - Any of these could work.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What Are You Growing?

Hello out there,

Figured I should let people know what I am growing. I originally started with a list of things I was planning on growing but it just got bigger.

Here is what my current list looks like and I am trying to make sure everything is listed:

Tomatoes:
Early Girl
Yellow Pear
Money Maker
Roma
Beefsteak
Large Red Cherry
Tomatillos

Peppers:
Banana
Poblano
Green Bells
Habanero (I hope they made it)

Eggplant:
Black Beauty
Front Runner

Squash:
Butternut
Acorn
Spaghetti

Strawberries
Cucumbers
Carrots
Yellow Onions
Red Onions
Lettuce (few varieties)
Radishes (few varieties)
Beets
Turnips
Honeydew Melons
Watermelons
Garlic
Chives
Parsley
Sweet Basil

I think that covers most of it and hope I won't add more.

Luis

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Weekly Farm Update! 3/17/11

We start this week with a shot of everything in containers and the young plants. Most of the ones on the ground are tomato plants but are some eggplants, garlic, marigolds and pepper plants mixed in.

There are some tomato plants that are already developing buds that will hopefully set fruit. I know it is better to have these in bigger pots and I have some 5 gallon containers but potting mix is not the cheapest thing. I am running out of room in the garden and was thinking of moving some seedlings to the planting beds that are in front of the house. I already have a squash plant out there and it is looking great. I will need to put up some sort of supports but that shouldn't be too much of an issue. I also have room in the raised beds but just have not moved them over.

I have moved some tomato plants into the garden and put up bamboo tee-pees. These tee-pees are only about 5 feet high and may not be big enough but we shall see how it goes. I have the burlap down because there is loose soil under there and this way, the cats don't get into it. It is supposed to rain this weekend and that should help the situation and I may end up moving the burlap.

It would be nice to be able to say what variety of tomato these two plants are, but like I've said before, I need to get better at labeling. We will just need to wait and see when they set fruit.

Next stop on the update are the raised beds and not much has changed from last week. The plants in there seem to be doing fine and continue to grow. It isn't too exciting just yet but that should hopefully change soon.



There is something I am extremely excited about and that is the snow peas. The blooms kicked in as of yesterday and should be producing real soon. I remember eating these last year and loving them very much. These can be eaten fresh or cooked in a simple stir fry. I already have visions of the wonderful salads that will include these delectable morsels of deliciousness.





Speaking of salad, the greens continue to produce and provide us with delicious meals. I don't know how long they will produce but I have started a new round in a shadier spot and we will hopefully be able to enjoy fresh salads all season.  I know it will not be an easy task and will require attention but I am looking forward to it.





There are other plants around the garden and yard that are already showing signs of production. The plant I am 95% sure is a cucumber, already shows blooms in the making. (Note to self: Label, label, label). The photo shows a female flower with what appears to be a mini cucumber, but it could be some sort of squash.  We will see when it starts coming in.



Along with everything that is growing now, I have also started a "strawberry patch" but in containers. The only reason I bought the plants was because I had a Topsy Turvy Strawberry planter and thought I should use it. I dragged the wife to the nursery and picked up a 6 pack of plants for only $2.99. Once home I realized it would just be easier to put them in pots. I had just bought some small pots for $1 each at Target and found them to be the right size. Even with all the pots I used, it was still less potting mix than filling the whole hanging basket.

I remembered how much the heat had fried the strawberry plant last year and decided that putting them into an old bbq pit would help me move all the plants at once. I know I could have just filled in the whole thing and planted directly in it but thought this would be good for now. I may do that later but I didn't even realize, until I took the photo, that they look "happy" in their home. I swear, I didn't do it on purpose and I just used the pots I had available to me.

This just about does it for this post and tune in next week for another one!

Luis

Photos for this week's update are HERE.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lessons Learned This Season Already!

Gardening has been a great experience and I am always learning new things almost daily. Most of my, very brief, gardening knowledge has come from online research but some from personal experience. I thought I would share my new knowledge and hopefully somebody can learn from it.

1. Make Seed Starting Mix Moist Before Adding Seeds

Easy right? Think again. 

Last Spring, my first season trying to grow anything, I seemed to get it right but I skewed a bit this season already. Most of us heard the saying that "..if something isn't broken, don't fix it..." but I was simply looking for an alternative. 

Many people start seeds in peat pots and swear that bottom watering is the way to go but not for me. I found some peat pots at the 99 cent store and decided to try it. I filled about 10 pots with dry seed starting mix and added seeds. The next step seemed simple enough and I went with it. I found a small plastic salad container and placed the pots inside. I slowly added water and waited to see what would happen. The peat pots started wicking up the water slowly but surely. The peat pot was pretty soggy but nothing was going into the mix. One set of instructions said the leave them overnight to soak up the water but I knew these pots weren't going to make it that long. I took out the pots and tried to water from above but the mix would not take the water and it seemed to just let it slide right off the top. 

At this point, I was a bit frustrated and tried to pull the seeds out but some were so small, that I decided to empty out all the pots into a disposable aluminum foil baking pan. I was not able to locate all of the seeds and decided to cut my losses. I added water to the pan and mixed with my hands until the mix was damp. I then just filled in a seed tray with this mix and decided to stick that in the window in the kitchen to see if any of seeds would germinate. I didn't bother to even check the tray for a couple of days but when I did, I was pleasantly surprised to see seedlings emerging. Of course, there were many empty cells with no seedlings but some had a few. I left the tray alone and watered when necessary. I ended up needing to separate plants from each other and spread them out in the tray. Many if not all, of the plants that emerged have made it. I have since had a few rounds of seeds go through and are also now large themselves. 

Needless to say, this is how and why I learned to dampen seed starting mix before adding seeds. I know it works for many people but I have not been able to pull it off.

2. Have Many Containers for Transplants

Once that first round of seeds were getting too big for those cells, I had to find where to put them. This is where my online research and creativity came in handy. I started pulling out the 4 inch pots I had from last year and once cleaned, seedlings were potted up but I didn't have many of these.

My wife loves yogurt more than anybody should and I use to tease her about it but I am now praising her for it. She eats a yogurt a day and is now in the habit of bringing home those wonderful little cups for my seedlings. I figured out that instead of having to buy more 4 inch pots, why not use the cups she was tossing out everyday? Of course, once the plants get too big for these, I will need bigger containers or plant directly into the garden.

I bought many pots last year and they are now being used. I have also used many containers that usually get toss out, into planters. From 2 liter bottles to juice jugs are now housing my large tomato plants. 

3. Don't Buy Too Many Seeds

This one also seems simple enough but with the price of seeds, I now have many many seeds. Most seeds will last a few years, if properly stored.

You may be wondering how one can get to this point but let me tell you that it is easier than you think. Walking up to the seed displays is like a kid in a candy store. You want to grow them ALL but don't always think clearly and think about the space you have or don't have. 

It may be necessary to have someone with you when going into a gardening section to help keep your head out of the clouds. 

4. Use Chicken Wire to Keep the Cats Out

As much as I love my neighborhood, I really do, I can't stand the roaming cats. Most have tags for their owners but are left to roam the neighborhood to look for an outdoor litter box and this is when they find my raised beds or garden. The cats love the loose soil for doing their deed and like to leave me a "gift" but I can totally do without it. 

The raised beds are covered in hardware cloth for now and will stay that way until they are filled with plants. As the plants get larger, they leave less room for the cats to even get into them and this makes me a happier gardener. 

The other parts of the garden are not raised beds and seeds are sowed directly into the ground. I bought a roll of chicken wire and it was placed flat on the ground. It is being held down with stakes and bricks. As the plants grow, I snip parts of the wire to allow room for growth. I haven't had any issues with it yet and it continues to work just fine. 

If cats weren't an issue, I may not need the wire but then that would open to any other critters that may be around. Raccoons or Possums may be another one of those critters but not always.

5. Label, Label, Label

This is also extremely important and must be done in order to know what you are growing! I started seeds in seed trays and had all my rows labeled but didn't keep up with it. I put in 2-3 seeds in each cell and more than one germinated per cell. I didn't want to clip them and ended up moving plants around and potted up as needed. When more cells opened up, I moved tomatoes into it but didn't label. I can tell you the 3 different kinds of tomatoes and squash I started with but can't tell you which plant is which. I am able to tell what "family" it may fit into but not the exact variety. 

I originally started Moneymaker, Early Girl and Yellow Pear tomatoes and most of them have survived b but I can't tell them apart just yet. I also started Butternut, Acorn and Spaghetti Squash and have the same issue. Since then, I started more tomato varieties and trying harder to keep those labeled. The new tomatoes are Beefsteak and Large Cherry Red. 

I'm not sure how many plants I will be able to keep myself and may end up giving some away. I will just let the person know that I don't know what they are getting. It will be tomatoes, but I may not know which one.

6. Successive Planting

This just means that planting should be staggered 2-3 weeks apart for each vegetable and will require some planning. I originally started seeds in one area of the garden but left others empty. Those empty areas may be planted later with either the same things or new things altogether. 

The first area included carrots, radishes, and some greens. About 2 weeks later in another area, I planted the same thing and then repeated the process. 

First Planting: 12/28/10
Second Planting: 01/11/11
Third Planting: 1/25/11

I did these plantings in small batches in order to help stretch out the season and last longer than normally possible. I have done more than those 3 plantings but it was just to show the pattern and all of the radishes are now gone and more will be ready shortly. I just takes some planning and you can have fresh vegetables all the time. 

I hope my experiences can help somebody and possibly get a discussion going about these or any subjects. 

This covers this post and tune in Thursday for my weekly farm update. I may do another post before then but nothing is planned for now but that can change at any time.

Happy Gardening!

Luis

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Weekly Farm Update! 3/10/11

New Bed
Well, it's Thursday again and time for the weekly update! There has been so much going on and like always, pictures will help show the changes. I am not sure where to start but I'll figure it out.

We should start off in the left and move to the right. The left starts off with the recently cleared out area next to the house that has shade later in the day. I know the lettuce in the main garden will not last in the full heat of the summer so this seemed like a good alternative. Along with different lettuces, I also included more radishes and a few root veggies. I am happy to report that many of the seeds have sprouted and broken ground. I honestly didn't think they would sprout that fast, but I am not complaining.

Moving towards the right of the garden, we find the area where greens currently growing. The lettuce, white swiss chard and some carrots in between. This is the original planting from late December and it is still going strong. The plants look small because they are clipped every few days for salads.

Original Greens Bed
The swiss chard has been allowed to grow but the large leaves were clipped yesterday and were tossed into a soup. I had only had swiss chard one time before but it was a bit bitter for me and this was no exception. The seed packet says that it can be used as fresh greens in a salad or cooked like spinach. The flavor was much milder after cooking but still to much for me. My wife thought it was fine and ate it all up. I am leaving it in and continue to grow it but may not use it too much myself. We shall see how it goes and if survives the heat later in the season.

There is also a cucumber plant behind the greens that will hopefully grow big and strong. I built the bamboo structure and it hope it will be strong enough to hold it up. The other end of the structure has a squash plant and that should also grow up the tee-pee.

Green Onions & Carrots

In front of the bamboo structure, there is another section where the radishes occupied. The radishes were all pulled and the wife enjoys those as snacks or in her salads. I am not much of a radish eater but she loves them. In between the radish rows, I also planted carrots and those take longer but are now coming in. Since the radishes are gone, it opened up some space and yellow onions took their place.

These onions were transplanted from containers and seem to like their new home. Most of these onions are the ones that came from the 99 cent store but some were started from seed. I am not sure how these will work out but only time will tell. They onions seem fine up til now and I may end up going back to pick up a few more sets.



Sugar Snap Peas
Next stop on the journey includes beets, sugar snap peas and cucumbers. The beets are just now sprouting and there are no true leaves but should start taking off. The snap peas are taking off and should set fruit soon! These were also started at the end of December but have made great progress recently.


I know that size really doesn't transfer well in photos but keep in mind that the cage they are attached to is 54 inches high. They are already half way up and will probably hang over a big later on. These won't last all season and will require successive planting if we want snap peas later in the season. In the later plantings, I will also include a bush type bean. I can't remember which one that is right now but it should only grow 4-5 ft tall and won't take up much space.



Behind the snap peas there is another tee-pee with cucumbers that looks healthy and ready to go. The white "thread" is actually a nylon trellis net that I wrapped around the tee-pee. I hope this will be enough to hold the weight and the plant produces more cucumbers than we need. The cucumbers will easily find homes and should not be an issue.

If you are wondering about the bricks, they are holding chicken wire down so the cats don't dig up the plant and use it as a litter box. I have these all over the garden. I think once the garden "fills in" more throughout the season, it should be fine.

Turnips
Up next comes all 3 raised beds but they aren't doing much at this point. I put in some tomato plants in them but they didn't fare too well on the cold nights. All is not lost though, I still have many plants that have made it through fine. The only real growing in the beds are some turnips, red onions and more radishes.

The picture shows turnips but I don't remember planting them that close together. These are the first ones that came up and there are more root veggies planted but some take longer to germinate.

Squash Bloom

This is pretty much it for the raised beds but just had to post the first squash bloom of the season. The blooms are always bright and colorful. Many other plants have the buds and I can't wait to see them all bloom.






Marigolds in Window Boxes
That covers the main garden but there are more plants growing in containers all around. The dwarf kumquat tree is showing new growth. The eggplant and tomato plants have new buds that will hopefully set fruit. I have many seedlings that are slowly being potted up and continue to show great signs of survival. As seedlings are taken out of the seed trays from the kitchen, more seeds are sowed and this process will probably continue throughout the season. I was able to find the 64 qt bags of potting mix on sale for $9.99, instead of $16.99 this last weekend. I picked up a couple of bags. Mom had given me window box planters a while ago that were finally filled and marigold seedlings were transplanted into.

I have been going nuts with all the things to do in the garden but loving every second of it. I don't see it as work but maybe more than a hobby. I have been out of work for just over 2 years and still have not found anything but I am trying to keep busy. The job search is still on full force but not showing any real progress. It is not easy with a single income and savings are getting low. I feel that if I can't provide an income as of yet, at least this way I can physically put food on the table by growing it myself. We shall see how it goes from here on out on that end.

This is it for this post as I think it covers most of the farm news. I will be doing another update next week and may have other posts along the way.

Below you will find the link to the photos for this week.

Til next time!

Luis

Photos for this week's update can be found HERE.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Weekly Farm Update

Onion from 99 Cent Store
Let's get right to it and say that more harvesting has been done but also more planting. Salads have been eaten with radishes and  we just can't get enough! My wife loves being able to tell her co-workers that the only salad eaten at home comes from right outside the backdoor. I gotta say that it makes me really happy that we can say that. It gets us closer to be able to eat all of our vegetables from the garden. 

I am happy to report that the onion sets from the 99 Cent Store have rooted and on their way. The seed trays are going nuts with tomato, marigold and flower seedlings! All of the seedlings in the outdoor greenhouse are slowly getting potted up to 16 oz cups. 

Of course, more seeds have been purchased including; spinach and watermelon. I will continue to start more seeds as space becomes available. You can never have too many plants because those extra ones can simply be given away or put into containers. I will get creative and plant as much as possible. If we have any extra veggies, they can be given away. 

Speaking of giving, we had somebody come over for oranges but in return, dropped off a bag with about 10 ruby red grapefruits. I have been adding a grapefruit per pitcher of orange juice. I juice oranges about 3-4 times a week and loving every bit of it. The juicer is usually being used, in the sink or in the drying rack. The oranges are not only being juiced but also eaten fresh. 

Some of the larger plants are already showing very small flower buds! This is mainly on the different squash plants. I have these plants spread throughout the garden and in containers. There is also one in the bed at the front of the house. I added potting mix around it and it is just taking off. I can't wait for those gorgeous blooms to start coming in. The only thing the plants need now is just the sunshine and we will be eating at home every night. 

Along with the new growth, there has been some construction in the garden. I bought two 12 packs of bamboo stakes. I will be using these to make tee-pees and already made a large structure. The structure includes 2 tee-pees and a place for more plants. For more info. on that, you can check out the post right before this one or click HERE.

I think this covers most of it. The 10-day weather report only shows 1 day with 30% chance of rain and mid to high 60s for the rest of the time. It is California so things may change at any moment but hopefully stays this way. 

Like always, another update next Thursday!

Luis

p.s: This week in photos HERE.



Cheap Gardening Series: Plant Supports

Our next topic in the series is ways to help support those large plants and how to be cost effective about it. Like I say about everything, an online search yields many results but this is my experience.

 Just by walking through the home improvement stores, you can find many viable materials with which  to construct a trellis for almost any kind of plant. I only say almost because there are certain vegetables that don't need supports, like root crops. Nearly all plants can be grown on a trellis and in turn, opens up the garden and gives more room on which to plant. Vertical gardening is a great way to be able to grow more in a garden and sometimes considered an art. Although, "garden art" is a whole different ball of wax.

Trellises can be made of many different items and are only limited by your imagination. You would be surprised to find all the things what a simple ball of garden twine can be used for. I actually used it on my new bamboo structure to create a grid-like pattern to grow plants on. Now to show you what I made with that twine and some bamboo stakes

While walking through K-Mart, I found myself heading to the garden center. Although, I usually find myself in the garden area of every store I go into, but I digress. While poking around the area, I found some packs of bamboo stakes. These come in different lengths and seemed pretty sturdy. The sizes included 4, 5 and 7 foot. I grabbed 2 packs of 5 foot stakes at $3.99 each and headed for the seed racks. Spring is near and most stores have seeds on sale and this was no exception. I don't remember what I grabbed but they were "Buy One Get One Free" and I was not about to let that special pass me by. Once I decided on seeds, I found my wife and headed out. 

When we got home, I just couldn't set the sticks in the garage and worry about it later. I just had to do something with them and found myself making a trellis in the garden. I knew I could just make about 8 tee-pees for plants but that seemed kind of boring and decided to get a little more creative. I did make 2 tee-pees but ended up connecting the two. 

I took pictures of the structure but could not find something that would show it clearly. So, I decided to work something up in Photoshop. I tried to make it as clear as possible and it may not be the greatest diagram but I am a photographer not an architect or graphic designer. 

Structure Diagram

The center post is not bamboo but rather a heavier pole I had lying around from last summer. It is one of those green stakes from the garden center at Home Depot. Everything else is just the bamboo. Everything is tied together with garden twine but not limited to it. Zip ties may be another viable option for tying everything. 

The poles that connect it all are just tied to the tee-pees on either end and to the 3 poles that cross it. It took 2 five foot poles and there is an overlap of about 8 inches. These are tied the same way as the tee-pees but there is no real technique. I just did the best I could and if any problems should arise, I will deal with it then. 

In order for the plant to climb, it needs something to guide it and this is where the twine came in handy again. The twine was used to make a grid-like pattern by simply tying it the the poles and as the plant grows, it just needs to be woven through it. As it is shown in the hot green color. It is much easier than you think and did not take very long. The horizontal lines are just tied to the vertical poles and the center pole. Tie the outer posts to the center post about every 6-7 inches. The vertical line down the middle is just the twine tied to the horizontal poles at the top that go across the top. Let the twine fall right down the middle and loop it around each horizontal row. I know it may sound a bit confusing but it is not very difficult. I think that covers the main construction of the structure and I am open to questions or constructive criticism. 

Now that it has been built, plants need to be added and I even labeled that. I actually already have a cucumber plant growing on the left tee-pee. It is not much right now but when the warmer weather kicks in, it should take off. As it grows, I will wrap around and tie the vines to the posts on the tee-pee. The center grid like pattern may be used for peas and the other tee-pee may have a tomato plant in it soon. I will be building more tee-pees or trellises for other plants but will wait until it is closer to Spring. I also need to see what plants survive and make it to Spring. 

This is just 1 example of a cheap trellis but there are many more out there. The cost on this one was probably around $5. I already had the twine and the green stake so I didn't really figure that into the total cost. Thinking back, the 7 ft stakes may be a better option for bigger plants. Depending on what you are growing, 5 feet may be short and will need more support later on. Read the backs of the seed packets or plant labels for height of mature plant.


Luis

P.S:

I tossed in some more photos of the trellis with the weekly farm update HERE.