Monday, June 11, 2012

Vegetable Garden Implements

Creating plenty of garden beds was the first priority in the vegetable garden but there have been other beneficial additions made too that are making the veggie garden work well this season.


A double composting bin was the very first project we took on and it has been working wonders since the day it was installed.  Each season I have managed to empty at least two full bins of compost into my garden to use in flower beds, around newly planted trees and in veggie beds.  I can always use more compost it seems and this bin has worked hard to provide that for me.  Despite the large size though I still have more scraps that don't make it in.  Sawdust from Jody's workshop, sod dug up from new garden projects, apples from the orchard.  It's a never ending supply and I have a loose pile cooking beside the bin all the time.  Adding a second composter in another location would be a great future project.

Another great addition has been the rain barrel.


I only just acquired this barrel a few weeks ago but already it has worked wonders.  Previously there was no water source for this part of the yard.  The garage has no electricity or plumbing so a rain barrel has been the perfect solution.  Water is collected off the roof of the garage via gutters and so far has been used to water new veggie seedlings.  As the summer warms up tomatoes, squash and other thirsty plants will all use this water as well.  Previously I was running up to the house and filling buckets and bringing them back down which was heavy and tiring work.  Having a barrel of water right in the garden has made life much easier and more efficient.  It's so great in fact that I'm looking for a second barrel.  When it rains the first barrel fills up very quickly and having a second barrel to collect overflow would mean that during the long hot summer months I'm less likely to run out of water.

One more investment I made this year was tomato supports.


When we lived in BC I had a set of these tomato spirals but in the great move they were sold in a garage sale.  I've been missing them ever since.  So in February, while we were in Halifax, I visited Lee Valley and picked up another set.  These are the perfect way to grow a few indeterminate tomatoes without setting up a whole trellis system.  Each stake is made of steel and is 6 feet long so they can be buried deeply to provide strong support.  Having these I was able to plant some indeterminate varieties along with the bush variety tomatoes.

The best new addition I've made this year has been a very simple one.


Jody came home with a roll of plastic mesh from a second hand store one day and asked if I could use it.  I stashed it in the garage until an idea hit.  Every year I have trouble with cats digging in my garden beds.  I place straw over the beds in winter to keep them from digging but when I have to plant seeds the beds are left uncovered and the cats inevitably tear them up.  This year after planting I stretched rolls of that plastic mesh across the top of the beds and stapled it.  There's a couple inches below for seeds to take hold and the cats won't try walking across the mesh.  Finally!  my annual cat issue has been solved.

27 comments:

  1. I LOVE the tomato spirals - functional AND decorative! Building a composter is a summer project this year - might as well get started now even though I won't have a garden for a couple more years.

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    1. Jane, the composter would be a great project and then when you come back next year you should have compost sitting and waiting for you to use!

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  2. Isn't it the best when plans / tools / ideas and systems all come together, and just work out so well? It's a great feeling to have the garden hum efficiently. : )

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    1. Laurrie, that's exactly how I felt when that rain barrel went in. Seemed like things were coming together and I couldn't be more pleased.

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  3. We have blogging together for long enough, that I remember when you built your compost bins. We still need to get better organised around our compost.

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    1. Diana, how wonderful that you remember those first posts! I should have an award for sticking with me for so long!

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  4. Hi: Like the double composter a lot, are those old storm windows on top? Screening around the bottom? We have one of those black plastic composters but have lots of old storm windows on the island just waiting to be put to some use..I have two rain barrels and below a down spout on the carport and back of the house we use large, tin wash tubs which also collect quite a lot of water..Our neighbours have a large wooden whiskey barrel outside their carport with a large chain hanging in it attached to eavestrough..water runs down chain into barrel..they do that on back of carport also in lg. plastic barrel..it works!..Happy Gardening Lannie (p.s. Mr. resident groundhog is eating pea plants and starting on my green peppers ..ugh..

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    1. Lannie, it's actually wire screen from the Agro Co-op and it's used on all sides. That way bugs and rain can all get in but the critters can't. Good to hear from someone who has used a rain chain. I've seen them before but wasn't sure how well they worked, obviously it must be pretty good if it's keeping the water running into the barrel.

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  5. I LOVE it all! I think compost bins can never be big enough. That is a good idea to make an additional pile next to the bins. I am in the process of emptying my rain barrel so I can move it closer to the kitchen garden so I don't have to hall watering cans so far. You know I love those tomato supports...they are a work of art!

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    1. Karin, as I empty the bins I use scraps from the pile to refill but I never have enough room. Guess I have more weeds than space? I think you'll really enjoy having your barrel in the kitchen garden. For me, that's the one place where I really make a point of watering so having access to water right in that garden has made a huge difference.

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  6. Smart solution to the cat problem! And I love those tomato stakes! They are functional AND beautiful! I am always thinking I need to make another place for compost, too. I wonder if a gardener ever has enough composting piles!

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    1. so far the screen is working for the cats but it's taken 2 years to figure this out! It's hard to keep a determined cat from a patch of soft dirt. I agree, there are never enough composting piles, or compost.

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  7. Great additions! I love having my composting bins. I have mixed attitudes with rain barrels....need to get it up higher for gravity to help push the water out of the spigot. I couldn't get mine to go through the hose...ground level.
    Good thinking with the netting!!

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    1. Not sure if you can see it but under the barrel we used a big old foundation rock to prop it up. But then that wasn't high enough so we added pieces of lumber too. It works well now but despite the height when the barrel gets down below the half way mark the water starts to slow to a trickle.

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  8. Hooray for the rain barrel! We have five and they make watering so much easier and cheaper. LOVE the idea for the plastic mesh. So smart! I'm buying a composter this summer. It's just not possible to ever have enough compost. :o)

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    1. Tammy, your many rain barrels really helped with my decision to purchase one and what kind I wanted. Originally I was considering the ones that are just a plastic bag but heard too many negative aspects about those and am very glad I went for a solid plastic tub.

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  9. I was looking at a set of those spirals just this week in a garden supply catalog. I was so smitten with them that I was tempted to add some suitable plants to the garden just as an excuse for acquiring these. They're both practical tools and (unlike many plant supports) beautiful garden ornaments. -Jean

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    1. It's funny but I hadn't really thought about the look of those spirals. I just know how sturdy they are and easy to use. When I sold mine in BC the lady who bought them was pleased as punch. I believe she was going to use them for beans. I imagine they would work well for a number of climbing plants.

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  10. Hi Marguerite, This spring, we installed a rain barrel at the side of the house where the hose does not reach. In August, I am sure I will be glad we finally got around to getting it set up. Your Lee Valley steel stakes have reminded me to address the issue of better support for my tomatoes this summer. Last year they toppled over after a rain storm. Great thinking on the plastic mesh. I wonder if that would work with dogs... Have a great weekend!!

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    1. Dogs might be a little more adventurous than our fussy cats so not sure about the mesh. We're battling crows for strawberries now and plastic mesh just isn't tough enough as they will climb all over anything and rip it apart. I'm sure you'll be happy you got your rain barrel in. My back is very happy now not having to haul water all over the place.

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  11. I really like the tomato supports. They are classy.

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    1. Thanks Donna, not only do they look good, they work great.

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  12. Marguerite when I saw your title for this post I was expecting to see spades and hoes etc. your selection of impilments to show are much more interesting especially the tomato supports, a rain barrel is not only useful but 'green' as it saves using on the garden expensive refined water, I enjoyed your earlier posts about the veg garden you have come a long way in 2 years, Frances

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    1. Thanks Frances, things really have changed in the last couple years. I feel like we're starting to make sense of the layout and doing work more efficiently. One day maybe I will do a post on my proper tools, I have a new hoe that I don't know how I ever lived without but that's another day.

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  13. I have those tomato stakes too. Best buy ever. I ordered them from a catalogue. I visited Lee Valley, the one on Marine drive in Vancouver, a couple of weeks ago for the first time. My husband loved it for the tools. I had a hard time dragging him away.

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  14. I, too, remember when you built the compost bins. I loved your design then and still do! I've always used cages for my tomatoes, but agree with the other comments that the spirals are classy. I've got 5 rain barrels and counting. Love every one of them. (I have soaker hoses in the flower beds and run a hose from the barrel to the soaker. That way, it can take as long as it wants to empty.)

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