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Modesto, Central Valley, CA...

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Re: Modesto, Central Valley, CA...

Post  PNG_Grandma on 3/20/2011, 11:24 pm

Think TUESDAY! We're supposed to have sunshine on Tuesday...but rain all tonight and all day Monday. Yuck. Al planted some of his tomatoes in our backyard a few days ago. Poor little things...but he placed some lawn chairs over the little guys, then some protective covering to help protect from that howling wind we had yesterday and all last night. So far, so good! One day of sun coming up, then four more days of rain predicted. Geesh...when do we get back into Spring weather???

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Greenhouse progress...continued!

Post  PNG_Grandma on 3/22/2011, 3:45 pm

Here is the rest of the progress of building our greenhouse. I left off describing the L bolts that would hold the wood planks in place. This is how they look:


We coated the wood planks with a water seal to protect as much as we can:


Al is determined to get that foundation as level as possible!


The holes for the L bolts were carefully marked by placing the wood plank over the top of the bolts-in-blocks and hit sharply with a hammer to make a mark where the holes should be drilled. Did I say "carefully" and "should be"?? Yeah, Al did a great job and they all came out exactly right!


The metal base that attaches the greenhouse frame to our foundation was then bolted in place...we used more bolts than probably necessary, but hey, this thing is not supposed to fly away, right??!


We recruited a couple of extra guys to lift and carry the greenhouse to the foundation. Yes, this is how the instructions say to do it...build it first, then set it down on the foundation. We placed 8' long boards under the front edge and the back edge of the bottom of the greenhouse frame, then each guy was to lift at the same time and walk it over to the foundation. Didn't happen that way, one guy lifted early and nearly tweaked the whole thing while two of us were loudly (screeching?!) telling him to lower it!! It worked out OK, no apparent damage, whew!


This is from the inside of our greenhouse, looking out at the garden and our helpers. Beautiful day today...remember last month when we had beautiful clear days of sun in the 70s??


Al and I worked on that darned door for several hours before getting the hinges set just right so both parts of the door would close properly. The top of the door is separate so you can open it for ventilation. Nice touch, but so tricky to get it just right!!


Finished...finally!! Actually it only took a few days but that was because we added the cinder block foundation, bolts, and concrete that had to dry. Putting together the greenhouse itself was fairly easy, just follow the pictures and ta da! Done!! This picture was taken at 5:56pm on February 7,2011. The sun is still coming through the lattice wall behind the greenhouse, still lots of light, and that was BEFORE daylight saving time!


Al built some great shelving units for inside the greenhouse and one of the units is partially complete. All the rain we've had since those beautiful days last month have kept us from finishing the whole project. We had jinormous wind gusts a couple of nights ago and I was sure the greenhouse would have some damage...nope, it's just fine! Guess using all those extra bolts to anchor it down was a really good thing. And of course this is a great product! We highly recommend this particular greenhouse and the engineers who designed it. I'd love to meet the person who figured out how all those tiny parts would fit together and do what they do!! Amazing.

Now, the downside of our lovely greenhouse...things got just too humid inside for the new seedlings, even with the door and window left open! Al's little bitty toms and peppers almost died from the humidity! Do we need a fan?? Once he took them out and kept them in our house they were OK. Now he's transplanted most of the little guys into larger containers. Some are already planted in our backyard. Carolyn Phillips, you'd be proud of what Al has built for his toms...you are a great inspiration! When the rain stops...maybe next week??? ...we'll plant our SFG boxes in the Apollo Garden, and more in our backyard...but that's another story!!
Think Spring! Think SUN!!
sunny

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Re: Modesto, Central Valley, CA...

Post  mrsfish94 on 3/27/2011, 9:08 pm

Your greenhouse looks wonderful!!! I wish I would have had that on Thursday afternoon...when we got hailed on...LOL!!! It hailed so much, it looked like snow.
My husband looked at some pictures that I took and asked ...are you sure it wasn't snow? HAHA I had to laugh at the comment.

I had already planted my tomatoes (which you already knew) I had beans (bush&pole) emerging. They all made it..thank goodness!

I just have to say...Yay! Sun and 80 degree weather is coming this week!!! I am so excited!

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Re: Modesto, Central Valley, CA...

Post  PNG_Grandma on 3/27/2011, 11:10 pm

We didn't have that much hail, some, and it came down hard...but the RAIN!! At one point it looked like fog, we just couldn't see down the street. Al's toms in the ground were protected but he had some in small pots that were rushed back into the house. Today was pretty nice...and tomorrow is gonna be better. Hey, I think we might finally have some Spring!! And this is what Al is doing... hyper

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...and the new season begins!

Post  PNG_Grandma on 4/3/2011, 8:07 pm

Al has been hard at work in our Apollo Garden, harvesting the crops that grew all winter, replenishing the soil in the garden boxes, sharing the harvest with several neighbors, and creating new and interesting meals.
Now for the REALLY hard part...what to plant and where!?!


He finally has it figured out, well, mostly. Some things get planted and then moved, sorta like moving furniture in the house...he just can't decide on a few of the plants! And seeds that start in one square may just get scooped up and redeposited elsewhere...hey, this isn't an absolute science ya know!
Wink


As you can see, most of us are trying to be a bit pro-active this year in combating those darned cutworms that we battled at the end of summer. We've already had a bad infestation of Harlequin bugs. The hoops have bird netting on them at the moment in hopes of keeping the larger moths out at night, not to mention the neighborhood cats! The taller square covers have tulle netting that are actually keeping the aphids out. Well, at least the fat little guys! I watched one the other night as he tried for quite some time to squeeze through the opening. I left after about 20 minutes and the next morning found him still stuck, and now dead. The netting worked! If the little aphids can't get through them hopefully the larger flying things can't either. Not sure what we'll do about needing pollination from the bees.
:scratch:

More updates coming. Also, we're planning to add several more garden boxes along the outside edges of the garden area. A few more neighbors want to get in on our Apollo Garden! Yahooie!! With our 70+ degree weather, who can blame them??

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Re: Modesto, Central Valley, CA...

Post  camprn on 4/3/2011, 8:22 pm

@PNG_Grandma wrote:Al has been hard at work in our Apollo Garden,





@PNG_Grandma wrote:

Not sure what we'll do about needing pollination from the bees.
:scratch:
This could be a serious problem!

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Re: Modesto, Central Valley, CA...

Post  PNG_Grandma on 4/3/2011, 8:25 pm

@PNG_Grandma wrote:

Not sure what we'll do about needing pollination from the bees.
:scratch:
This could be a serious problem![/quote]

What?? Al pondering, or the lack of bee pollination???!!! lol!

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Re: Modesto, Central Valley, CA...

Post  camprn on 4/3/2011, 8:31 pm

@PNG_Grandma wrote:
@PNG_Grandma wrote:

Not sure what we'll do about needing pollination from the bees.
:scratch:
This could be a serious problem!

What?? Al pondering, or the lack of bee pollination???!!! lol! [/quote]

LOL, on Al pondering.
No, the problem is the bees, you have to let the bees in.

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Re: Modesto, Central Valley, CA...

Post  PNG_Grandma on 4/3/2011, 8:36 pm

The bird netting is big enough to let the bees in but small enough to hopefully keep the larger moths out. THEY are the bad guys, that's where we get the cut worms. At least we finally have no more cats in the boxes! I think I'll keep just the bird netting on my garden box because I'll have squash and cukes, and things like that...and I need the bees!

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Re: Modesto, Central Valley, CA...

Post  dianamarie03 on 4/3/2011, 9:55 pm

I just read this whole thread and it has really warmed my heart! This project was a big undertaking for you and Al but it must be so rewarding to see the happiness it has brought to so many people (myself included). Congratulations on your big time success, I hope this year is bountiful for you all!

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Re: Modesto, Central Valley, CA...

Post  PNG_Grandma on 4/4/2011, 12:32 pm

@dianamarie03 wrote:but must be so rewarding to see the happiness it has brought to so many people (myself included).
Oh, you have no idea how rewarding this has been! Every time we have new people slowly driving by, or actually walking through the entire garden site, I try to talk with them about the garden. They love it and want to know more about it. Of course I just have to tell them all about the SFG concept! Sometimes I get a bit carried away (who me? talk alot??!) but by the time they leave I know they're thinking about gardening and how they could do this too.

Two of our gardeners are going through some very rough times right now. One is receiving very aggressive chemo treatments but he's still talking about what he's gonna plant in the next few months. The other gardener is looking at heart surgery very soon. His wife spends a few minutes each day just sitting in a chair near their two garden boxes, just sitting quietly enjoying the warmth of the sun, the sound of the birds, and the peace the garden offers. I see her from my kitchen window and I say my own prayer. Our Apollo garden has allowed us to form bonds we would not otherwise have done.

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Veggies are growing!!!

Post  mrsfish94 on 4/9/2011, 10:20 pm

Yay!!! I have beets, radishes, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, purple and yellow beans, carrots, bok choy, turnips, spinach, bunching/green onions. Oh, there are strawberries and various herbs and flowers. I'm just so excited!!! I pray that that this cold weather is done for now.

What do you think? Are we in for more cold weather?



Oh here is a picture of our hail storm from a few weeks ago.


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PGN Grandma

Post  mrsfish94 on 5/6/2011, 7:16 pm

I wanted to ask...

Can I still plant more turnips or is it to hot for us to reseed?

I just noticed my turnips greens are getting really big. I harvested some for a salad...but, I would like to harvest the actual root soon too.

What would you plant in it's spot?

Can I continue to harvest the leaves through out the summer?



one more little thing.... Happy Mom's day!!!

Susan

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a visit with Mrs Fish!

Post  PNG_Grandma on 5/7/2011, 3:12 pm

I just came in from our garden from a delightful visit with Mrs Fish! She came to see just what we've been talking about, all the stuff we have here in our Apollo Garden...and hopefully she enjoyed the visit as much as Al and I did!

Before Mrs Fish left we had to show her our backyard too...this is where Al has been planting various toms, eggplant, and pepper plants. The toms are getting huge! He's doing this the "Carolyn Phillips Tomato Produce" way and I'm amazed. While Mrs Fish and I were admiring the large plants we spotted some tomatoes already forming...several on one of Al's plants!! Exciting!!
hyper

Our SFG boxes are doing well, newly planted stuff is growing like crazy. Our weather has been a bit crazy lately...actually got up into the mid 90s a couple of days ago, now down to 80 for a high today and barely 70 tomorrow...with a chance of sprinkles!

The worm tubes are still active...Al found some small red wigglers in the tube in my garden box...guess they liked their home enough to reproduce?? I know nothing about worms so if that last comment sounded weird, well...!

Thanks for visiting with us, Mrs Fish...please stop by anytime! Smile

PNG_Grandma

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I sure did love my visit!

Post  mrsfish94 on 5/7/2011, 7:44 pm

I really learned a lot from the both of you. Your Apollo garden is really an amazing thing to see. We didn't even get around to talking about your worms! I will allot more time for my next visit.

I promised to post pictures of my garden. But after seeing Al's Tomatoes I am embarrassed Embarassed to post them...LOL!! I'm definitely going to try Al's "earth booster".

I forgot the name of the compost you get at Grover. Would you mind PMing me that again?








Thanks so much for the wonderful visit!!!!

Mrsfish94

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May update in the Apollo Garden!

Post  PNG_Grandma on 5/19/2011, 5:54 pm

I just love hanging baskets and after seeing the photos of hanging baskets (It's gonna eat me!) I had to try some too! I designed it and Al built the "cage" around my garden box, the trellis was strung, the pepper plants were planted, the squash seeds were doing their thing...and we hung the strawberry baskets. I love it!


We used the trellis frame from last season and built upward and around the whole box...very sturdy, then put the strawberry baskets in the middle. I'm planning to put bird netting over the entire structure to keep both the birds and the darned cats out, maybe even some of the larger moths too.

In the far corner of the fences you can barely see our sink table. We plan to put a small shed behind the garbage containers and we're still thinking about a compost bin of some sort. The short pieces of lattice in the box at the bottom right are keeping the zucchini plants from crowding the basil in the middle...not sure if this will work but it's worth a try.

This is a shot of almost the entire Apollo Garden, as of this afternoon.


Many of our gardeners have put some type of structure over their garden box to keep the critters...feline and otherwise...out of the boxes. Some designs have worked well and others have unfortunately failed miserably. In spite of the challenges the gardens are producing huge onions and we can hardly keep up with the lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard picked almost daily. Many of the new tomato plants have clusters of toms already setting...I'm sure our Summer Harvest will be amazing!

If you're in our area...Modesto CA...please stop by, we'd love to share with you!!

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guess what I found in my garden???

Post  mrsfish94 on 6/6/2011, 10:29 pm




Yep... you are seen'n right....a large frog....LOL!!! I was checking my beans and nearly fainted. Good thing my hubby was home to go investigate it.

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Our Spring (?) Gardens...think SUN!

Post  PNG_Grandma on 6/7/2011, 5:33 pm

Here are a few updates on the Apollo Garden, and this pic of Al with his backyard toms...and the volunteer sunflower! Wonder when it's gonna bloom?? Al is 5'10 and that's the roof of our house with the sunflower just below the eve of the house...and take a look at the trunk on this thing! The base is the size of Al's wrist...and he's not a wimpy guy!


This is me trying to keep my roaming squash plant inside the bird netting and going up the trellis...I think the squash will eventually win the battle!


My garden box looks a bit sad...the squash is doing well, the eggplant in front has someone munching on the leaves (maybe snails!) and my poor little bush beans are tiny compared to what they should be...come on SUN!!


Al has some getting-out-of-control zucchini, but isn't that what they usually do...get a bit out of control?! There are also pepper plants and an eggplant at the far end of this box. My garden is further back in this pic.

We'll be eating zucchini soon!

... pattypan ...

...and crookneck too!


Our herb garden is doing really well...Al just harvested the last of the lettuce and now we'll plant a few more herbs...so great to just walk out to the garden then pop the fresh stuff into whatever is cooking on the stove!


...and I can't forget the basil! These are between strips of lattice to keep the pattypan and crookneck squash from ... well, from squashing them!


The weather is supposed to be in the 80s this week...finally! Hopefully we won't have any more rain for a while, and we'll finally have some decent June-type days...and nights! But in spite of the weather our Apollo Garden is looking great!

Take a look at Al's backyard toms in the Tomato Tuesday thread
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t7295-tomato-tuesday-n-calif-coastal-valleys#70726






PNG_Grandma

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My Grandsons...P, N, & G!

Post  PNG_Grandma on 6/14/2011, 2:42 pm

If you have a few moments take a look at the Grandma'sBoys garden...these are my grandsons who will be enjoying a SFG in their backyard with their Mommy, my daughter V. My dad began teaching me about gardening when I was just 4, and now Al and I are showing the boys all the joys of having their own garden. My daughter, along with my son, began helping and harvesting in a garden years ago when they were just 5 and 4...now 43 and 42! (where did that time go??) Soooo, many gardens later, we're all doin' it again! Here's the link...
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t7903-mountain-view-ca#72022

PNG_Grandma

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...some hazards of community-type gardening

Post  PNG_Grandma on 6/18/2011, 8:20 pm

This morning Al and I were in the Apollo Garden early enjoying a quiet cup of coffee, ooooing and ahhhing at how tall some of the plants had grown while we were away last week. We watered and we weeded, and we just enjoyed the very quietness of the garden...other than the birds chirping and the sounds of backyard waterscapes. As so many have said in other posts, being in the garden is almost like being in a cathedral...peaceful, stress-LESS!!

...and then it was gone. One of our fellow gardeners, an especially negative person, appeared in the garden with her signature cigarette hanging out the side of her mouth. She didn't seem to notice us at first as she began yanking out some of her plants, then jerking out the tee-pee shaped structure along with the peas still clinging to it. She said nasty things to them, she growled a bit, and just generally wrecked the total peace that had been ours only moments earlier...not to mention she covered the beautiful smells of the garden with her smoke. I guess you can tell I'm not a smoker, long ago when I was a teen I tried and then stopped. I have some allergy problems with smoke and just generally don't like to be around it much. It wasn't so much the smoke as the overall negativity that just hung like a dark cloud over everything. She complained about the weather (we finally have sunshine and some heat!) and she complained about some new bugs, and she complained about a few other things. We stayed quiet and then just finished what we were doing and left the garden...with a bit of sadness.

Not long afterwards, while deadheading some of our roses and other plants in our yard next to the Apollo Garden I saw a woman drive up, park, get out with a bag, and walk around in the garden. Hmmmm, I recognized this lady as the mother of one of our gardeners, and the mother in law of another gardener. A week ago Al spoke to her in the garden after she picked a beautiful pepper from the wrong garden box, actually lifted the birdnetting to reach inside and take the pepper. Al explained that was the wrong box and she tried to put it back. He said to take it, otherwise it would just be wasted. This same confused lady had picked some lettuce from another box a couple of months ago...so I called her daughter and explained what had happened. I said my call was just FYI only, not a problem, but it could become one. ALL the gardeners are now watching carefully as each blossom is turning into a pepper, a tomato, an eggplant, or peapods...and if something is missing it will be very sad. Soooo, when I saw her in the garden this morning I walked over near her with a big cheery smile and said good morning! She glared at me. Oh, oh. Then she said "are you the one with this box?" pointing to the box with the missing pepper. I told her no and then she began to really rant and rave that somebody called her daughter and said she was a thief and she didn't appreciate people carrying tales and telling lies. I was so shocked! I tried to calmly tell her that I was the one who called, I had never said she was a thief and there really wasn't a problem. (We just wanted their family to know it could turn into an issue.) OMG...she got louder, and sharper, and I swear there was fire coming out of her eyes...and all I could do was stand there with my mouth open and listen to the viciousness of her tirade! Not to mention being a bit embarrassed because the nearby neighbors could all hear her!!

This is the first time there have been harsh words in the garden. It was so unsettling. It's bothered me all day. I know if I see her out there again I'll just avoid her...and that's just not my style. I'm usually bouncing out our front door to greet any new folks in the garden and share the joy of our Apollo Garden with them. We have about 20 gardeners, ages 57 to 82. We have men and women, some married and some single. We have a variety of lifestyles, political views, and religions...and we have one common thread, and that's gardening. We share our harvests often, and we share secrets on how to grow the biggest and the best...and we all get along. Thanks for reading this lengthy post...and I'll be back out in the garden tomorrow morning with Al and my cup of coffee to enjoy ... everything! Smile

PS Happy Father's Day to all of you who are, or who are about to be!! My father taught me to garden...the best thing he could have ever done.

PNG_Grandma

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Re: Modesto, Central Valley, CA...

Post  PNG_Grandma on 6/29/2011, 6:10 pm

After that last kinda sad and depressing post I thought I'd put something fun in here! Last week a reporter for our local newspaper, The Modesto Bee, called me about our Apollo Garden. I had replied to a request they had in the paper for people who are growing their own produce mostly because of the current economy. After a nice interview she said she'd send out a photographer in a few days. After a rescheduling we had a few gardeners show up and many pics were shot. The only one used was one of Al and me walking through the garden. Nice, but sure wish the editors would have used some of the other folks too. Anyway, our garden received some extra attention and now more neighbors are asking for garden boxes. Hopefully the managers and owners will get the wood and other supplies for us to build a few more boxes.

In the meantime...this is what my garden box looks like today, and when I looked at the last image I took of it...WOW...I'm so surprised at the growth, in spite of this weird on again off again hot or cool/wet weather!


My overhead strawberries are beginning to grow, I have a few small berries and hope the birdnetting will keep the berries in the baskets for me...and not the flying thieves! The squash growing up the trellis on the far side is butternut, and I also planted a couple of spaghetti squash, with one volunteer that we don't know what it is...and at least one cucumber buried underneath! There are MANY butternuts growing beautifully...let's hope they make it to the table! You can see the bright blossoms in the middle of the pic. You can also see the worm tube...still doing well! The eggplant plant is on the far left and has several fruits set. My various peppers are producing well, as is the spinach and Swiss chard at the far right. My little bush beans are coming along OK, nothing flowering yet, but soon. I've planted another bunch of them in front of these in hopes of staggering out any harvest I might get. With the weird weather...who knows!

This is our herb garden...with Al's garden box in the background.


That zucchini plant in Al's box is keeping 3 families very happy right now! The summer squash plant in the box at the far left is going crazy...we love these little guys! At the other end of that same box is the crookneck squash doing it's thing too!

The last line in the article about our garden in the newspaper was a quote from me about how beautiful, peaceful, and stress-less it is to be in the garden. Yep, it's all that...and sure cuts our food bills down! Very Happy

PNG_Grandma

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Re: Modesto, Central Valley, CA...

Post  MarcyG on 6/29/2011, 8:35 pm

I love seeing your gardens and what you've done for your community there. I grew up in Tracy, Ca but now live in Cleveland, OH. Next time i'm out there i'm gonna have to come see your beautiful garden.

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Re: Modesto, Central Valley, CA...

Post  PNG_Grandma on 6/29/2011, 8:44 pm

We'd love to have you visit the Apollo Garden!! Chopper visited last year, and Mrs Fish was here earlier this year...such fun to see a real live person and not just the images on the forum!

At this moment there are about 5 gardeners out there doing their garden things...one is moving from a 4x4 box to a larger 4x8 and she's just soooo excited! There is a new person ready to move into the 4x4 as soon as the watermelon is gently uprooted and replanted into the larger box. We're all crossing our fingers that the little guy survives!

I LOVE your TT gardens! We want to build some for the edges of the Apollo Garden for some of our wheelchair bound neighbors...they would be able to wheel up the driveway and garden from there. Maybe later this year I can get the supplies to make a couple of them.

thanks ... and we hope to see you soon!

PNG_Grandma

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Re: Modesto, Central Valley, CA...

Post  barmstr on 6/30/2011, 1:49 pm

Gardens are absolutely great. For those in wheelchairs, why not go to beds that are built off the ground. A little more work to build but are raised so they do not have to bend over. One setup I saw, the builder made a table and then used the black plastic cement tubs for the planting area. They drilled holes in the bottom of the cement tubs for drainage. Just a thought.

Go to table top gardening in the forum to see an example of raised gardens.

Enjoy your veggies and the fun of gardening.
Bruce Smile

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Re: Modesto, Central Valley, CA...

Post  PNG_Grandma on 7/1/2011, 3:06 pm

Thanks Bruce! Last August we built a TT (Table Top) garden for my dad and this year he has really enjoyed it because of his recent surgeries. Now that he's standing and walking again the height is still perfect.

About the Apollo Garden and a few TT boxes...
I spoke with one of our managers yesterday and she thinks the idea of a TT box near the driveway edge of the Apollo Garden would be perfect too! We have one gardener beginning to garden today in a 4x4 raised bed on the ground and her sister is the one in the wheelchair. I'm sure we'll have a TT in the very near future!

Beginning tomorrow (maybe today?) we'll have 100+ degree weather. The humidity isn't too bad so maybe all the toms and the rest of the heat loving veggies will enjoy their Summer!

Hmmmm, remember that comment I made a day or so ago about the watermelon being transplanted from one box to another??? Poor little guy...he had been sooooo happy where he was, stretching out over several squares and twining his little tendrils around the string that defined the squares...and then he was abruptly uprooted and plunked down in unknown territory...DRY unknown territory!! I'm not sure what the transplanters were thinking but they only watered the hole where they were placing the little guy...and forgot about all the dryness of the rest of the big box!! silly me

By yesterday morning all the little "arms" were spread out...flat...and only the tiny tendrils were still reaching for the sky...and the one lone almost a blossom was still holding it's little head up, sorta. Kinda like the cartoon of the guy in the desert nearly dead from thirst and exhaustion from crawling!! We all talked to the poor thing, encouraged it not to give up...it was watered well, several times...and this morning it actually looks like there might be hope!! Watermelons do NOT like to be moved!! Hopefully this little guy will forgive this indignity and continue to grow and produce...keep your fingers crossed!

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