May 25, 2009

Chicken Wire---Not Just For Chickens

I did it! I did it! I finally planted in my garden boxes. And, ever since I planted, it's been rainy and windy and I have been freaking out about my tomatoes. I had a few casualties in the planting process, so I ended up planting 26 tomato plants, instead of the 40+ I started with, but that is still a good number if they all survive.

I followed the advice from the Square Foot Gardening book and other successful tomato gardeners and I clipped the lower leaves from each plant, thereby allowing all the nutrients and energy to flow to the main stem, making a stronger, more productive plant. Or so they say. After I did that, I dug a trench and laid each plant down in the trench and covered the stem completely, leaving only the top leaves above ground. It was during this process that I had some casualties. Those seedlings are so tender and break so easily.

Once I had the boxes planted, we needed a way to keep nosy critters like cats, dogs and squirrels away, so Handy Man Neal made a fence using chicken wire (free from Craigslist), a gate (left at our house by a previous owner) and some plastic posts that were the only thing purchased. The ground was pretty soft from all the recent rain, so the posts went right in without much effort.

Do you notice what I am using to cover my tomato plants? After I had them planted and the weather started to worsen, I had to find a quick and easy way to cover them and we just happened to have these dog/cat crates in the backyard waiting to be washed. Each half fits perfectly over 4 plants and they have vent holes to allow for air circulation. I was pretty proud of myself for thinking "outside the box" on that one!

Last year we made use of the free chicken wire to make our compost bin. It's nothing more than a wooden frame, raised slightly off the ground, with chicken wire sides. Our compost level is low now since we used most of it in our gardens, but it will soon be built back up. And this year, I have an extra ingredient to add to the bin...alpaca poo!

In addition to tomatoes, I also planted squash, melons, bell peppers, carrots, eggplant, cucumbers, and hot peppers. I have some available squares left in which I plan to plant some herbs and some more peppers. While some crops just went into the ground and will take months to produce, we were able to harvest our first batch of green onions yesterday, which was exciting. I think Handy Man Neal would make a good spokesperson for homegrown produce. What do you think?


Anonymous said...

you would think that i just planted your plants myself as excited as i got when i read your post :)
finally in the ground! yay!

and that is quite a pretty plate of greens :)

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

Your garden boxes look nice. You are going to have lots of vegetables - 26 tomato plants will give you loads of tomatoes.
You are quite inventive - love the crates over the plants!

frugalmom said...

That fence is way cool. I love hoe it even has a gate. Im thinkin here at home I would be steppin over the 3 ft chicken wire to get in! Isnt it the greatest feeling when you get all that stuff in the ground? And way to go on the crate covers. That is a great idea.

Lilla said...

Daune, I know! I was so excited to finally get everything planted, but I am still watching and waiting and holding my breath. All the rain and wind we've had is really racking my nerves!

SVB, thanks for the compliments. I've had a lot of fun with this novice gardening attempt. IF all of my tomato plants survive and produce, I'm sure I'll find plenty to do with all the tomatoes!

frugalmom, thanks. The fence is a bit tall to just hike a leg over everyday, so I'm glad we have the gate. I tend to be on the clumsy side and can just see me falling face forward in one of my boxes if I tried to step over the chicken wire! Yes, it is a really great feeling to get things planted and watch them take off. Hopefully, I won't have too many heartaches this season. said...

LOVE the picture of Neal! He looks so pleased with himself. Your garden is beautiful! And the dog crate covers are ingenious. And now that you've got everything fenced in, you are ready for chickens. Our yard looks like a fencing advertisement. Every living thing that I want to stay alive has fencing around it - chickens are all about gardening, you know. Little buggers.

Lilla said...

Thanks, Penny. Neal can be the King of Corny sometimes! No, don't think we're ready for chickens yet. Not sure the neighbors would appreciate that, and I'm pretty sure it would send the dogs over the edge! One thing at a time. This year, it's gardening.