Monday, May 24, 2010

Harvest Monday - 24 May 2010

It is days like this that I hate being a hostess of Harvest Monday. I harvested absolutely nothing from the garden this past week. It wasn't because there was nothing out there to harvest. Oh no. There is plenty of lettuce out there to eat and the Asian greens need to get picked. Early in the week we had my mother and MIL in town. We went out to eat a lot. We ate a lot of desserts especially ice cream. Oh all the food that we ate, but not from my garden. We did cook up some spinach one night, but it was from last Harvest Monday.

Then when they left, I was trying to eat up the leftovers which included all the things we picked last week. So I did eat from the garden this last week, but I just didn't pick from it. And I discovered one thing. I love Choy Sum. I made a nice stirfry with it and yum. Too bad it is one of the quickest bolters in the garden.

I did spend money in the new garden. I spent 8.97 on plants. I have more to spend on those too. Since I wasn't sure what I would be gardening at this house I didn't have plans and didn't grow all that I needed. I also bought some fertilizer for 17.97. And some gloves and a root saw for 26.92. The big things I bought were tomato cages. I bought two packs (four per pack) of the folding square ones that stack which are 14" on the side from Garden Harvest Supply. These cost 86.06 with shipping. And I bought two packs of folding round ones (6 per pack) from I bought the medium ones. So it was 274.30. The tomato cages ought to last 20 years, so they will be amortized over that. I'll amortize anything that is big and lasts a long time. These amortize to 18.02 per year.

Oh my goodness the money I spent. And it is going to be more before it is all over. So my tally is going down. I'm at -242.89.

One of my big expenses will be the edging to the raised beds. I will have ten raised beds that are 4'x16'. I could use cedar edging which would rot out in 10-15 years. Or I could use concrete 4x16x16 blocks or 4x8x16 blocks (this size can be hollow, though you wouldn't see it since they go on end) sunk into the ground. The price with them would be similar. The advantage to wood is that it is thinner and you can attach things to it (like pipes to put hoops into). And it is so much easier to install since there is little that goes below ground. The advantage to concrete is that it will last forever and won't have to be replaced (though if it starts to tilt too far it would have to be reset). Concrete is hotter, which is an advantage with a lot of crops and a disadvantage with others. Anyone have any thoughts about this? It won't go in until July or August anyway. It may even be too late for most of the fall crops.

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.


  1. I was also thinking to have frames for my raised beds. Now I have them without any frames.
    The best option for me is clay bricks that I will use also as paths between beds. Brick dimensions are 25cm X 19cm X 19cm. I will place them so the height of raised beds will be 19 cm and width of paths between beds will be 25 cm. I think it will work out nicely. I will need about 500 bricks.

  2. I like the look of cedar. It develops that nice patina as it weathers. It also is thinner as you mentioned. Either way I know you will enjoy your new garden next year Daphne!

  3. I didn't get around to harvesting anything either. I don't know why I procrastinate when it comes to that. When you put so much effort into growing food, you would think that harvesting your veggies at the peak moment would be top priority. But no, and my tatsoi have started to bolt.

  4. As you may have noticed at Henbogle, Dan has been hard at work removing the last of 3 rotted 6"x6" hemlock (rot resistant) raised bed frames from the garden. We've been in the house 9 years, and the frames were fairly new at that time, so maybe they lasted 15 years, but I think more like 12.

    In my opinion, they have been a pain. Weed whacking around them damages them leaving them more vulnerable to rot. When they begin to rot, they make an excellent growing medium for some weeds, especially the rhizomous types like creeping charlie and quackgrass.

    Concrete will last for many years. It does warm up early, but I can't imagine the warmth will make a significant difference over wood --but I could be wrong. In addition, you could more easily make the beds deeper in later years if you decide you don't want to bend over so far. Ahem.

    Given all that, I would go for concrete in a heartbeat. Don't tell Dan but it still might be an option for us someday.

  5. PS. You'll notice I didn't harvest anything last week! It just happens.

  6. I seriously considered concrete blocks for edging my beds when I did the garden expansion last year. The reason I chose not to use them was the width factor. They take up more room and I would have had to make the beds less wide or have less beds in the area I had available to me. Neither option was appealing to me so I did not use concrete. However, if space had not been so constrained I probably would have gone that route.

  7. I have one concrete block bed and several wood beds. I like the wide rim of the block beds over the narrow rim of the wood, but overall, I am happier with the wood. The hollows of the blocks need to be filled (which would complicate resetting later) or you will find that they fill with all manner of things. I didn't fill mine, and now they grow weeds. One day I reached in to pull some weeds and came out with an arm covered in ants. Tenacious weeds will go under the blocks and through the cracks between them (which seem inevitable as they settle). I am inclined to say that if you do blocks you should definitely cap them. But, if you cap them, you will not know who is living in the hollows (mice? snake?). The wood just looks nicer too. Personally, I have accepted that I will be replacing beds every so often, but to me it is worth it. Also, I believe the block bed does heat up faster, but it also stays hot which is not great midsummer. I find that things in and near that bed bolt faster. So, there's my experience in a mixed-up nutshell.

  8. I've been having that same debate in my head. How long will the wood frames last? Should I remove them and put something in that is more permanent? So many questions, so little time... Aesthetically, I do prefer the wood over the concrete.

  9. vrtlarica, it is such a dilemma figuring out what material to use. They all have strong points.

    Kelly, I like the look too, I just don't want to have to replace it in 10 years.

    Thomas, I love to pick, but I need the time to do something with what is picked. I still have some spinach and bok choy from the week before that hasn't been eaten.

    Ali, in the new garden there will be no grass near by to invade. My neighbor has paved over his yard on that side (and in the back). On the other side will be a brick path way. So I shouldn't have invasion problems. If things change the blocks would go down 8" into the soil so it really would keep things out.

  10. maggie, The blocks that I'm contemplating are solid on top. Some of them are solid all the way through. They would have a 4" wide rim over the top with no holes. They aren't the standard concrete blocks. I actually have some of the ones I'm contemplating in my yard that holds back the soil by my patio. I think for the concrete the heat is the real issue. I suppose it would be really good form my tomatoes, squash and peppers, but my lettuce will be harder to grow if I go that way.

    Richard, I agree. Wood looks better. I just hate to contemplate replacing it every 12 years (at a price of I'm guessing a $1000 for just the wood boards). I'll keep debating in my mind what to do. If I live there for 20 years which is the plan then they would cost twice as much.

  11. Raised beds are so pretty. I just don't have the energy or money to put that all in. My backyard will just have to do.

  12. I think someone may have already mentioned this but hollow concrete can occasionally crack due to frost heave and anything with multiple pieces may also get uneven looking fast. I like cedar though I can understand the rotting aspect, that does enrich the soil... however, wood can be slippery especially with moss growing on it.

    I also wouldn't worry to much about the heat aspect though the ants might be a pain near the edges of the concrete blocks.

    Tough call.

  13. That's a lot of money for tomato cages! As cheap as I am, I'd stand out there and hold the suckers up with my arms before I'd spend that much, LOL!

    I'd go with the textured concrete blocks if it were me. The ones that you can buy in gray or tannish colors that are used for retaining walls. Wood gets hot too, especially if you paint it a dark color like some silly person who will remain unnamed.

  14. As hard as it is to spend money on new stuff, it's sure exciting to get to start fresh! I couldn't spend that money on tomato cages though, this year I just bought culled lumber for stakes, and I'll tie them on with cut up strips from an old t-shirt. That lumber cost me $3 for all of my tomatoes, and I don't think I could bring myself to spend more :) Your garden always has a much more visually appealing quality than mine though :) Which I love looking at!

  15. johanna, it is a lot of work and money. I keep thinking about not doing it, but then I change my mind again. I really do like raised beds.

    Ottawa Gardener, It is such a hard call. I'll keep contemplating it for a while.

    Annie's Granny, it is a lot. But then I won't have to tie two tomato cages upside down to support my tomatoes. Your contraptions are very strange. Hey and it amortizes to just $18/year. The Texas tomato cages have wires a quarter inch thick. I'm guessing they can hold up just about any tomato. I almost went with cattle panel, but couldn't figure out a way to get it home. I'll be happy with these. For the concrete blocks I'd love to get tan, but have only seen the grey and red around here. I'll have to look more if I decide on them.

  16. Hey Daphney I'm sure you'll do better than me any ol' day you just need to get out to your garden

  17. These are what I'd want:

    They look like this when built:

    LOL! The verification word sounds like what I yelled this morning...oyani

    Annie moved a heavy container and tomato plant to get to the measuring cup I'd just used for fish fertilizer. OY, Annie!

  18. Re: Annie's Granny's links...

    In the picture of the single block, you can see a ridge on the bottom on the back side. That helps the block stay in place, but forces you to set each level back a bit, resulting in the stepped look of the other link photo. So these would work if you don't mind having to lean over a bit more to reach into your bed. But your beds will be wider at the bottom than at the top. This might not be a big deal, though, if you're only talking about a couple layers of block. More than that, and it may be awkward having to lean further to reach into the bed.

  19. I have solid concrete block raised beds next to concrete block wall fence (that's double the heat), I grow everything in there except tender greens such as lettuces and Asian greens.

    A wood frame would be more rustic and esthetically better looking. It's hard to choose sometimes.

  20. Daphne, by being the host of harvest Monday you get to harvest a whole bunch of gardeners every week in your blog. This counts as harvesting too!

    I would go with wood, precisely because it is not as permanent a material as concrete. And, as you say, it's more versatile. Wood lined beds are easy to move or alter if your needs change, or if you get new ideas for your garden down the road.

  21. Gaby, I do. I've been spending my time at the new house getting that garden in for the summer veggies, and this house is getting neglected.

    Granny, those are so lovely, but at 8" wide that is not happening. I have planned 2' between the beds and that includes any width for the materials for the bed. A 4" wide one would be OK. It would give me only 16" paths which is doable. With 8" wide material it would be only 8" paths and I wouldn't be able to walk. Oh bad Annie. I think I was lucky with my dog and the garden. She would lick the fertilizer off the beds if I wasn't watching, but the garden was fenced from here otherwise. She was only in there if I was there to watch so she was pretty good.

    Maggie, I love the look of Granny's links but they are just too big for the garden. Really pretty though.

    Mac, That's what I'm worried about. My Asian greens and lettuce well and carrots and peas. I'm thinking it would defrost fast in the spring but heat up fast in the summer too. I'm wondering if I could cover it with something when the greens were in the bed. I guess a white old sheet would look pretty strange, but it would work.

    Angela, lol I hadn't thought of that. Can I add everyone's total to mine? ;> The concrete really isn't permanent either. The blocks wouldn't be mortared in. They are just 4" depth into the bed and 8" wide long the bed and 16" deep (8" below the soil and 8" above). The soil holds them in. Right now in my garden I use the 2x8x16 ones and they don't hold as well, but I have some 4"x8"x16" that are holding really well. All you have to do to move them is dig them out. They are heavy though. It is a lot of concrete even if they are movable. In a way wood is less movable because the bricks can make curves, but the wood is straight. That being said I think they will stay straight all their lives regardless.

  22. Your garden is off to a good start! Everything will be growing exponentially now that summer is almost here. I can't wait to see the tomato cages you purchased.

  23. It is really difficult to get to the garden when you've got guests, but sometimes you need a break from the garden anyway.

    I got my Harvest Monday post up in spite of feeling really crappy today, but I'm running out of steam and will catch up on every one else's posts tomorrow.

  24. A kitchen Garden in Kihei Maui, I hope they get here soon as I've already planted the tomatoes. Not that they need a cage right now. They are such tiny little things.

    michelle, I always finish reading everyone's on Tuesday. Somedays I'm too busy during the day and then my family comes home and wants attention.

  25. Can't believe I'm posting Harvest Monday late Friday night. That's how far behind I am. About raised bed materials, I got my raised beds (3 ft x 6 ft)as kits from Gardener's Supply Company. The material is recycled plastic and sawdust that is molded to look like aged cedar. Love the look and they should last forever, but they were really expensive. I only have three of them, all that would fit into my tiny yard.