Wednesday, August 08, 2012

A Sunflower House for Michelle

Michelle is very excited to see her sunflower house start growing!

Planting sunflowers can be thirsty work!

 Overall dimensions are 6' wide x 9' length

 "Husky Cherry Red" Tomato planted at the entrance to the sunflower house.

 Detail of lay-out string, wooden pin, 1/4" soaker hose

Initial lay out, before planting the sunflower seeds.

"Mammoth Grey" sunflower seeds are planted and watered

A Sunflower House for Michelle!

Good afternoon, Pumpkinistas!

This past week-end, I planned, laid out, planted, fertilized, and watered a 6' x 9' sunflower house for Michelle. I used "Mammoth Grey" sunflower seeds planted every 12" for the walls, and included 1, "Husky Cherry Red" tomato plant at the entrance to the house since Michelle loves tomatoes. Three, "Japanese" cucumbers were also planted around the tomato plant, just in case we need some salad ingredients this summer. 

The cool weather was ideal for all of the weeding, digging, cultivating, and soil amending that was part of the site preparation. I used 1 bag of Kellogg's Harvest Supreme to amend the 30' of sunflower planting, in rows, that make up the walls of the house. 

I saved a tremendous amount of time by using some wooden pins and twine to lay out the outline of the house. Then, to protect the newly sprouting sunflower seeds from tiny feet, I used some additional twine and 3/4" PVC pipes to mark the corners of the house.

I'll post additional photos as the project progresses, including some evening shots of the house and some solar-powered party lanterns!

 Some seeds have germinated, April 28, 2012

The snails and slugs are merciless.

The sunflower house with cucumber plants in the foreground, April 28, 2012

The sunflower house with snail traps, snail and slug killer, and row coverings, May 6, 2012

Michelle's Sunflower House, Part II

Well, snails and slugs consumed the sunflower seedlings of late April, and Michelle and I re-seeded May 5-6, 2012. We also added some row coverings, beer-baited snail traps, and slug and snail killer around the newly-seeded areas, cucumbers and tomato plant. It's a belt and suspenders and another belt approach to the snail issue. We also planted some "Shin Kuroda" and "Parisienne" carrot seeds, and a couple of spots of "Satsuki Midori" cucumbers by unwinding the excess 1/4" soaker hose and burying it under some fertile soil/sand mixture. Because of this week's higher temperatures, the watering schedule was modified to daily waterings of 35 minutes, at 6:30 a.m.. It sounds like a long time, but the amount of water that flows from a 1/4" soaker hose isn't that much versus a conventional 1/2" or 3/4" soaker hose. The upside is that there's very little pooling or muddy spots since the soil takes up the water at pretty much the same rate as it flows.

 The snails have been repelled! May 18, 2012

 The Snail Bait Ring of Death Pattern seems to be effective.

Cucumbers have been re-staked.
The Chief Assistant Watering Supervisor takes a break.

Michelle monitors the garden.

 May 26, 2012

 Michelle, The Snail Hunter

The strings have been removed and the cucumbers re-staked again.

The biggest bare spot is at next to the orange tree to the right in this picture.

The first Japanese cucumber has appeared!

Michelle among the sunflowers, June 3, 2012

We have finally have some real sunflowers! The empty spots, and there are still a few of them, will be filled in with some sunflower seedlings that are being raised in pots. Michelle and I will transplant them once they are big enough not to interest the snails. In the meantime, the sunflowers are growing great with the temperate June weather.

 Michelle and the first two cucumbers of the season! June 10, 2012

 The proud and happy gardener!

The sunflower house and garden are doing pretty well. Michelle and I transplanted five sunflower seedlings into the remaining bare spots. I did notice that the 1/4" soaker hose had hardened from being in the sun, and wasn't working too well. A large sewing needle poked into the soaker hose next to each sunflower took care of this issue. I expect that having water at the base of each plant will help them grow larger. Also, two cucumbers have ripened and will be eaten tonight!

The sunflower house and vegetable garden are in full growth! This evening, we'll be releasing some ladybugs to help with some of the insect damage we've been seeing. 

A few of Michelle's coveted tomatoes!

 'Red Calabash' tomatoes transplanted June 24, 2012

 Seedlings covered for protection from snails, slugs, wind, over watering, and too much sun.

 The sunflower house and garden, June 30, 2012

This morning, we planted some 'Scarlet Runner Bean' seeds in between the sunflowers. Over the next few weeks, they should start climbing the sunflowers, fill in any empty spaces, and lend some red to contrast with the yellow of the sunflowers. The cucumbers are doing great. We have many that are well over a foot long. The tomatoes that were transplanted last week survived, and were added to the drip irrigation system. 

Some of the sunflowers are over 7 feet tall, July 7, 2012 

Interior, looking toward front entrance.

 The sunflower house walls definitely are up!

 Looking into the front entrance, July 21, 2012

Looking out, through the front entrance, July 21, 2012

The party lanterns and walkway lights are installed!