Working in the Garden is actually fun

This weekend saw a lot of changes to the garden so I’ll get started on the happenings for everyone.

If you didn’t see the tutorial on how to make tomato cages please be sure to check it out here.  We ended up making 28 cages from the galvanized wire mesh but we are 3 short for the 31 tomato plants that were planted in the last two weeks.  Oh well.  We also setup the drip irrigation for the tomatoes (and future peppers).  The squash and zucchini are looking a little yellow after they were planted but they are bouncing back now that they have their own drip irrigation.

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We also have about 25 pepper plants to get into the ground.  They are doing well in the greenhouse but I know they are itching to get into the ground so they can show me their potential.  🙂

The soil was loosened up a little with my trusty Troybilt tiller to get ready for planting the cucumbers, okra and silver queen corn.  We also setup something for the cucumbers to climb up as they grow.  This makes harvesting the cucumbers easier and prevents those extra huge cucumbers from forming that hide amongst the vines.  I’m sure the chickens enjoy these cukes as a snack but I would prefer to eat them myself.

We also tilled under the winter rye where the Rattlesnake Pole beans will be planted.  We setup some supports and twine supports for the pole beans to climb as they grow.

We will also be putting down some of the homemade compost to help with the soil structure.  Soil structure in a mostly red clay soil is very important but it takes time for everything to mesh together.  We will continue to work on the soil health for this new garden area in the coming years.

Unfortunately, the rain came in early before we could get the seeds planted.  It looks like there will be some strong storms until Wednesday of this week so planting will have to wait until this coming weekend.  We really enjoy farming and providing our fresh produce at the Dallas Farmer’s Market in Dallas, Georgia each Saturday.  Not much ready at this time because the carrots, lettuce, spinach and onions are taking their sweet time getting ready for harvesting.

As always, if you like this post please let us know by clicking the Like buttons on this post.  Stay tuned and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.  Thank you for reading our C & L Farms blog.

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How to Build Tomato Cages

The post this week will be about my tomato cages.  Now, I didn’t come up with this method for tomato cages but it has worked well for me over the years.  The cages are very sturdy and allow harvesting of your ripe tomatoes easier than ever.

The purpose of a tomato cage is to simply keep the tomato plants from sprawling all over the place.  The more leaves in close contact with the ground encourages disease or fruit rot.  There are many methods out there on the internet for staking up tomato plants but the cost for some of these options is just too much in my experience.  I have tried many methods of staking tomato plants.  I have used bamboo poles (expensive to buy if you don’t have a bamboo patch), wood teepees (also expensive for the pressure treated wood…plus the pressure treatment is not something I want to ingest), string (rots before the season is over which causes the plants to fall over)…etc…etc…etc….

I found this method on the internet years ago and have been using it ever since.  It is very simple and cost effective.  All you need are the following:

  • Roll of 4′ x whatever length you need welded wire fencing.
  • wire cutters
  • gloves

The wire can be purchased at your local big box garden retailer or your local farm supply store.  It is important to get at least the 14 gauge welded wire fencing (you will see the mesh design in the pictures below but make sure you get the 2″ mesh).  This type of wire fencing will last for years if you take good care of it each season.

Instructions for building the tomato cages:

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As always, if you like this post please let us know by clicking the Like buttons on this post.  Stay tuned and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

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Garden Blog status….finally

I’m sorry to all of my readers for being MIA the last month or so.  I have been busy with my wife’s new business venture, Twisty Stitches – Arts & Crafts with a Twisty Stitch!, and have totally neglected my own blog.

Don’t worry though, I have not forgotten to plant my garden or spend countless hours in the hot sun hoeing and scraping and pulling weeds.  As you may remember from past posts, I have expanded the garden considerably from the raised beds next to the pool to 2 larger plots in the yard.  Both of these garden plots are fully planted (except for the corn plot, still need a couple more rows of Silver Queen to plant) and all of the plants are doing very well.  Except for the eggplant and the okra though.  For some reason, all of the okra and eggplant transplants that I started earlier in the Spring died with 2 weeks of planting in the garden.

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t shock from planting because they seemed to be doing just fine the first week.  Then they simply fell over.  I was looking closely at them and it looks like the RED CLAY that I am so blessed with (haha) may have been the culprit.  It looks like the soil dried out a little too much and simply crushed the young stalks.  I don’t believe it was anything like a cutworm because the plants just simply fell over and were not severed at ground level.  Oh well, I don’t really like eggplant all that much anyway.  🙂

The tomato plants are doing really well although we do have a couple that just don’t want to grow very much.  They are not much taller or bushier than they were when I planted them over a month ago.  Whereas, most of the other plants are already putting out blossoms and a few small green tomatoes.

The crowder peas and lima beans have come up and I have a pretty decent stand of them.  They are growing by the day too.

That’s about it for now.  I will try to post more often but I can’t guarantee anything at this point.  The business is going well and the farmer’s market that we have a booth at is taking up much of our Saturday.  If you live in Georgia and are near Dallas GA stop by the Dallas Georgia Farmer’s Market next to the courthouse.

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Down for the count

It’s been a little over a week since my last post. I have a pretty good excuse for slacking in my posts. I have been attacked by the flu bug and have really had no interest in getting online to write anything for the last week. I don’t want anyone to think that I have been idle though. That is not the case. I have been planning my next gardening series to help everyone planning their first garden or even those of us who have been gardening for years. I hope everyone will walk away from my next garden series with some new techniques or maybe you will just be reminded of easier or better ways to make your garden the best it can be. I hope to have the finishing touches on the series in the coming week in time for you to get those first seeds planted in preparation for the last frost date in your area.

I have also been spending my downtime this week browsing some seed catalogs and placing orders. The last frost date in Georgia is around mid April so I hope to have my first round of tomatoes in the ground by then. As everyone knows with tomatoes, being the first one on your block or neighborhood with juicy tomatoes in early June is a great feeling. While everyone else is still relying on those picked green and gassed with chemicals to give that red appearance to grocery store bought tomatoes, I will be enjoying a fresh, naturally vine-ripened tomato on June 1st. There is still time to get those tomato seeds in some good potting soil and with some extra protection from cold weather, you can have tomatoes in early June also.

I hope everyone is doing great and I look forward to sharing more with you as the 2013 garden season gets started. I would like to hear from anyone who has tips they want to share with other gardeners on how they get those early crops planted and harvested before anyone else.

Meet my neighbors

Hello all,

We have been debating whether we should move the vegetable garden that we built next to the swimming pool to a larger area outside of the safety of the fence.  If you have been following this blog then you are probably already aware of the nice raised beds that we built last Spring once we moved into the new house in the West Georgia area.  The first season of crops outperformed our expectations and I want more space to grow more vegetables.  I’m sure everyone understands that desire if you like to get your hands in the dirt like I do.  Just to catch you up, the image below is a picture of the raised beds that we built.

As you can see from the picture, there is some open space on the other side of the fence for more vegetables.  In reality, there is a lot of open space over there that is not used for anything except grass.

Now, to get to this new area we have recently ordered a new garden tiller from  It should be here in a couple weeks so I will be working all winter on clearing the grass out and amending the new garden space with manure and compost.  I am planning two garden plots on the other side of the fence as well as moving the existing raised beds and reclaiming the space with grass and other non-vegetable plants.  🙂

My concern though are my neighbors.  They seem to show up at the strangest hours and are voracious in cleaning out my vegetable plants and their fruity offerings.  There are 3 of them that we have seen creeping through the yard where the new vegetable garden plots will be so now I have to figure out how to keep them out of the garden.  I’m sure you have figured out what I’m talking about by now so here are a couple pictures I took last week.  If anyone has ideas on how to keep the deer out of my garden without building a fence around my acre property, please leave a comment.

Also, I would appreciate if you would click on some of the social media sharing buttons and help spread the word about my blog.  I will post some pictures of the new tiller once it arrives so stay tuned.

Fine Gardening Videos from The Home Vegetable Gardener Blog

English: vegetable garden, detail Français : j...

Image via Wikipedia

There are some great gardening videos on the website that I would recommend to anyone who has a home vegetable garden.  Along with the videos, they have hundreds of articles from preparing your garden soil to growing exotic vegetables.  Check out the videos here.  I would recommend the How to Prune Tomatoes video to start off.

New website for The Home Vegetable Gardener is Live

I just wanted to let everyone know that the new website for my blog, The Home Vegetable Gardener, is now live and on its own domain.  Please update your bookmarks to so you don’t miss anything.  Please sign up on the new site to continue getting emails from my blog.

I will also be working on the 3rd installment of the Everything You Need to Know About Seeds series so keep a watch out for this new post in the coming days.  I will be back to my regular posting schedule soon.  There are so many new things going on right now.

Waiting stinks!

So my wife and I are buying a new house, well, a foreclosure actually.  But it will be new to us.  The problem seems to be the time it has taken for this process to get completed.  It’s still not completed and my patience is wearing thin, very thin.  We started this process in October of LAST year and the seller (big bank) didn’t properly foreclose on the home so the deed wasn’t executed into their name properly.  We have been waiting for them to sign the foreclosure deed (also known as an Executed DUP (deed under power of sale)) which was FINALLY signed last week and certified valid by their attorney.  The problem is they did not send the deed and the paperwork for closing to my closing attorney yet like they said they would do last Thursday.  It could be another couple weeks according to my mortgage company so another round of hurry up and wait is projected.

Now you are probably asking yourself “what does this have to do with gardening?”  A lot!  This new house will be MY house which means I can finally have my own garden.  I’ve been renting for 3 years now a nice home from a good friend but I have been reluctant to dig up his yard for a garden.  Instead,  I built two 4×8 raised beds for my gardening needs.  Although I have had good success with this setup, I really want to have a much larger garden so I can plant more varieties.  I’m not sure what I will do with the two raised beds at this point.  I will probably leave them for the next renter.

I’m so sick of waiting but waiting we must do it seems.  Just think of the great posts I will have when we finally move into the new house.  From garden prep to composting options to planting some asparagus for my wonderful wife to enjoy for years to come.  Please pray for us but not for the house to close soon, but for patience.  The house is an object that I doubt will interest the Lord Almighty into action but to pray for patience is just the thing that the Lord would grant.  🙂

Community Gardens

According to the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA), there were 20,000 community gardens nationwide in 2010.  With the economy still in decline in the US, I would guess this number has grown considerably.  If anyone is interested in forming a community garden in their area, the ACGA offers some tips on starting a community garden.

  • Form a planning committee to determine the interest level
  • Choose a site – taking sunlight, soil quality and water availability into consideration
  • Organize the garden by determining, among other things, plot sizes and conditions for membership
  • Consider insurance
  • Consider a formal leadership structure to make decisions and raise money

Community Garden Survey

Curious to know more about the state of community gardens in North America? The American Community Garden Association and Rutgers University invite you take part in a survey of ACGA members across the U.S. and Canada. We began an online survey in November, and to date, we’ve received survey responses from 186 organizations representing 145 cities. Thank you to all who filled out the survey. And to those who haven’t: there is still time!

Click on this link to see an interactive map of the information we’ve collected to date.

We’ve developed a shorter survey to encourage as many responses as possible. This survey will be open from December 15 until February 15, 2012. Please follow this link to complete the survey, (password: acga). Thank you for your time and input!

To Compost or Not to Compost

I have always wanted to build a compost bin so I can harvest “black gold” for my garden vegetables.  But, this concept has alluded me for years now.  I know it is supposed to be very easy to compost garden and yard waste (waste as in plant materials), but I have just been too lazy to start a compost bin.  Every year I review dozens of composting bins that you can buy as well as build and I promise myself that I will start composting.  I also spent hours reading about worm composting, also known as vermiculture, but there has always been some reason to not pursue it.  This back and forth is going to stop this year though.  I will build a compost bin.  I will do it this year, after we purchase our new house……There I go again, excuses.

I need some help from my readers now.  Since this is the year to build that compost bin, I would like to hear from my readers on the best BUILT, not bought, compost bin that works for you or someone you know.  I have a dozen plans in my head and have read hundreds of articles on composting but I don’t trust some of the websites that I have read with telling me the absolute truth about the matter.  Has anyone tried worm composting?  What worked for you or didn’t work?

I’m still working on the 2nd article of the “Everything You Need to Know About Seeds” series and will have it up sometime this week.  Stay tuned.