Jim’s Garden Adventure 2018 Chapter 4 “Tilled, Lined, Trellised, and Ready To Go!”

 

Gardening Season Again – Time To Get Out The Tiller

After a Happy Easter Sunday, I see that the trees are beginning to sprout their leaves and the prolific weeds are actively taking over the garden area.

It’s spring!  The eve of another memorable gardening year!

The ground is still fairly soft from the rain we had a couple of days ago.  For that reason, I won’t wake up my neighbors by using my workhorse Southland SRTT196E Rear Tine Tiller.

I’ll just get out my powerful little Troy-Bilt TB154E Electric Cultivator.  That’ll do the trick!

Besides, I always like to make 2 tilling passes anyway.

First across the width.Tilling the garden - first pass - width-wise

 

Second, across the length.Tilling the garden - second pass - length-wise

 

Tilling 2 different directions really churns up the soil – making it extremely loose and workable.  Last year’s article on Tilling The Garden explains my 2 pass technique.

Jim's vintage garden chair

 

 

So, off we go – armed with my tiller, a long extension cord, a garden chair to rest my tired bones, and a cooler full of my favorite ice cold beverage.

Crank ‘em up and move ‘em out!

 

 

Tilling Only Took Half a Day

Jim's Troy-Bilt TB154E tiller cultivator

 

Burning only a couple of hours each pass to cover my entire 2,500 square feet garden area – both the width-wise pass and the length-wise pass were finished in 4 hours – like magic – the task is over and done with.

 

 

 

I even had enough time to till my watermelon patch!Jim's tilled watermelon patch

I now have plenty of time left for some other garden preparations to be completed before I get into next week’s planting schedule.

 

Positioning My Straw Bales

This year, I’m going to grow a few veggies with straw bales.  I bought 6 of them from a local outdoor supply company and I put them in place along the front of my garden.

3 of Jim's straw bales being conditioned.

It’s been a few years since I used straw bales for growing veggies – mostly because I hadn’t been able to find quality bales to use.  Most of the big box home improvement chains have low quality bales that are smaller and more expensive – some bales contain weed seeds and some are already decomposing.

Take a look at Straw Bale Gardening for details and a rundown on the conditioning process to get them ready for planting.

 

Line ‘Em Up – Nice And Straight

I always like to lay out my garden rows so that I have a 4 foot clearance between the rows and a 4 foot walkway path around the outside of the rows.Jim's lined garden rows 4 feet apart.

For this, I used Butcher’s Twine tied to some 3 foot long, quarter inch diameter, fiberglass plant stakes.  I buy the twine in a 3,600 foot roll and it usually lasts me for at least 2 or 3 seasons.  The fiberglass plant stakes I purchased about 5 years ago and they are still doing their job.

Butcher’s Twine

 

3 foot long, quarter inch diameter, fiberglass plant stakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There you have it!  Mission accomplished!

Germination station veggies ready for planting.

 

 

 

One more task to complete and I’ll be ready to start planting the germination station veggies that I’ve already hardened off!

 

 

Build Them Tomato Trellises

Jim's tomato trellises

 

Last year, I used the garden fence to support my tomatoes.  But, in the interest of crop rotation, I won’t be putting them on the fence again for a couple more years.  Instead, I built my famous chicken wire trellising for the ‘tomators.’  The garden fence will support other veggies this year and next year.

I built 2 trellises – each about 36 feet long.  Keeping the tomato plants 4 feet apart, each trellis will hold 10 tomato plants on one side.  On the other side of the trellises, I will companion plant some tasty cucumbers to make full use of the trellises.  Tomatoes and cucumbers grow very well together.

 

The Day Is Almost Done

It took about 9 hours to complete everything – from start to finish.  It looks pretty good – if I do say so, myself!

Jim's one-foot deep tomato hole.

 

Next, I got out my favorite shovel and dug 20 1-foot deep holes along the trellises for the tomatoes I will be planting – 10 for each trellis – and, that will complete the picture.  I always dig my tomato holes deep since I bury everything except for the top branches.  It makes the tomato plants much stronger – and they are just about the only plant that will not die by doing this – so be careful with other veggies.

 

Jed Liked My Neatly Tilled And Lined Garden

My neighbor, Jed, the retired farmer, stopped by while I was tilling – and, gave me a few pats on the back for doing such a good job tilling with my electric Troy-Bilt cultivator and not waking him up with my big, bad Southland tiller.

Then, he started reminiscing about one spring when he was getting ready to till his fields in preparation for planting potatoes.Sheriff Andy's badge

“Here I was – had my tiller hooked up to the tractor – and up comes Sheriff Andy in his patrol car with a warrant for my arrest.

It appears that I had neglected to pay a few parking violation fines – actually about 289 of them – all for double parking at the feed and grain store – ‘cause that’s the only place I ever drove to in town.  Millie does all the rest of the shopping.

Well, Andy wasn’t too happy about me ignoring those fines – probably because they paid his salary – and he proceeded to arrest me and haul me off to the hoosegow.Sheriff Andy's jail

I told him that his timing could not have been worse because, I was just preparin’ to plow my field for potato plantin’.  But, Andy, being such a fine, upstandin’ officer of the law, said that, even though he was sorry, he had to take me in.

Now my lovely wife, Millie, had to hold down the fort and keep the farm going until I was able to pay my fines and get released from Andy’s jail – but, she was not very good at farming.

While sitting in that jail cell, I got a letter from Millie asking me when it would be the best time to go ahead and plant those tators in the field.  I noticed that Sheriff Andy’s initials were on Millie’s letter and I realized that, he read her letter to me – which also means he sho‘nuff would read my letters to her.

That gave me an idea!

I wrote Millie a letter saying, ‘Millie, honey, don’t go anywheres near that field.  That’s where all my guns are buried!  Just wait ‘til I git home.  Then, I’ll dig those guns up before we plant them spuds.’

In that day and age, gun laws were pretty strict – almost making the whole state a gun-free zone.Shovels used by Sheriff Andy and his deputies.

So, the very next morning, Sheriff Andy and all his deputies showed up at my farm with a whole bunch of shovels.  They worked feverishly – digging up the entire field looking for my guns.  After 3 days, they found nary a one!

After Andy and his deputies returned to the Sheriff’s Office, I wrote Millie another letter: ‘Hey Millie!  Now is the time to plant those potatoes!’

Millie was happy – I was happy – Sheriff Andy and his deputies never bothered me again.”

What a story Jed can tell!  He recounts it like it actually happened – and, maybe, it did.  I will probably never know for sure.  Did you like Jed’s story?  Jed has a whole heap of interesting tales!

I encourage your comments, questions, and stories below or by email: jim@perfect-vegetable-garden.com.

 

Jim, the Lifelong Gardener

2 thoughts on “Jim’s Garden Adventure 2018 Chapter 4 “Tilled, Lined, Trellised, and Ready To Go!”

  1. Darren Reply

    At first glance the garden looks like a running track.

    Spring is always a wonderful time of the year. Things come to life, the weather is very pleasant, and it gives you a feeling of optimism.

    And like you say, it’s one of the best times for tilling and planting to get a lovely new garden growing. I’m a bit of a novice gardener, but I’m trying my hand at it, and I learnt a lot from reading your article. I’m quite interested in growing my own fresh tomatoes, so I was glad to see you covered that here.

    • Jim Reply

      Hi Darren,

      Yep!  My garden is definitely a “running track.”  Gotta lotta “runner green beans” as well as a whole bunch of bush and vining cucumbers.  And, of course a goodly supply of tomatoes!  And, don’t forget my Three Sisters configuration of corn, pole beans, and squash.  I could go on and on…but, I already did, didn’t I?

      The problem with this spring is it is a tad colder than last year.  I’m plantin’ today with gloves on – imagine that!

      I’m glad you got some useful information from Jim’s Garden Adventure 2018 Chapter 4, as well as my tomatoes page.  Since you are a bit of a novice gardener, you may find some great tips and tricks on How To Plan A Backyard Garden

      Happy Harvesting!

      Jim

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