Category Archives: Projects

How to Protect Cabbage Plants from Predators

Before I begin I would like to mention that this will work to protect all of your brassica family plants from those white cabbage butterflies. As you will see in the video, I am not only using this method to protect my kale, and broccoli plants as well. The thing that you need to keep in mind is how tall the plant is that you are protecting.

Last year I put a row of broccoli across the back of the bed (left to right in the video) and it ended up pushing up both ends of the netting. This year I am remedying this by planting the broccoli directly under the tallest part of the frame. This should keep everything in place, as well as protected.

This is a very simple way to protect your cabbages and other brassicas, but it is by no means the only way. Many gardeners have had lots of luck with “hiding” their plants in between others of a different family. This is done not only by planting a cabbage or two in between many other types of plants, but also by spreading them through the whole garden. This keeps the predators, like those bloody white butterflies, confused as to where the plants they want are.

I tried this in the past and it never worked out for me, but I also, until last year only had a few little gardening plots around the yard. I think this lead to my problem, as I didn’t have much for other vegetables, and perennials to hide the cabbages and broccoli between. I am hoping that this will be my go-to method once I have more space set up for planting, but for now, I am very happy with the method in the video.

Another method that can help you out is companion planting. I tried planting dill near my cabbages a few years ago, and I have to say, I did have less damage to the cabbage than in years prior. I think if I had more dill, or other aromatic herbs, and had it and my cabbage spread through the yard, I would have done even better.

The method shown below is simple, give it a watch, and give it a try. You don’t need a fancy small greenhouse frame like I used, you can use anything from some PVC bent over the bed, to a fancy wooden frame that took you three days to build. The important part of the project is that the netting covers the entire crop and that the holes are too small for the cabbage butterflies to get through.

Thanks for watching, reading, and remember to keep on gardening!

Using Wood Fence Panels as Shelving in the Greenhouse

This is a simple project that came about out of necessity and the fact that I had some old fence panels lying around that I picked up last summer when a neighbour was giving them away. When I picked them up I thought I would use them as a divider between the vegetable gardens and the flower garden that will be near the greenhouse soon (probably next year).

I have since changed plans for the area, I will be using vegetation as a divider instead, so I had no use for those wood fencing panels. That is, until I built the greenhouse and just set the plant pots on the tarp “floor”. After a while it became obvious that I needed to put the pots on something not only more stable, but that wouldn’t let them sink into the ground underneath.

I looked into plywood, but the cost was too much, and by next year it likely would have been ruined with water sitting under the pots on it, rarely drying. I thought about putting in the gravel now instead of in the fall (or perhaps next spring), but I don’t want to have to deal with it when I eventually remove the tarp underneath in favour of landscape fabric, and especially when I build the raised bed for along the North wall.

One day, when I had to move one of the fence panels out of the way to do something in the area, I noticed that they were still in really good shape, despite what they looked like and I had an epiphany. I took it over to the side of the greenhouse and sure enough, it was about the right length for what I was looking for and I decided to use them to hold up my plant pots.

Here is what I did:

I never got a before picture, but each section had a 2×4 post on each side that used to hold the fence upright, I used my skill saw to cut away the posts from the top and bottom rails, using the closest picket to the post as a guide. I chose to do it this way simply so that the rails would be flush with something, and so I could have somewhat of a guide to use for the cuts. I repeated this to cut off each post.

Next, I elevated the remaining piece of fence on some old pieces of wood and cut along the top rail, removing the very top parts of the pickets only.

Very Important Note: When I did this step, I went from the front of the fence panel and cut with the rail on the back side trying to use it as a guide. If I were to do it again I would cut on the back side, and I would set the edge of my saw against the rail. This won’t get the cut flush, but it will save you a real hassle, as I had to keep stopping and starting since I would sometimes cut into the rail itself. If you wanted it to be flush, you could always snap a chalk line down across the front side of the boards where the top of the rail is and follow it.

After the tops were cut off, I moved to the bottom of the pickets and repeated the process in the same manner. See the note after the last step for a better way to do this.

Wood Fence Panels waste

Here is some of the waste from the wood fence panels.

With everything cut, and them not being a permanent fixture in the greenhouse, I didn’t need to do anything else, so I moved them into the greenhouse and stacked the plants on them. If I was going to use them for longer, I would have stripped and repainted them with some good vinyl paint, but they are only temporary until the gravel goes in so I didn’t feel the need to splatter an old pair of pants.

Wood Fence Panels as Shelves

As you can probably tell, there are a few areas where the blade of the saw rubbed on, and went into the rail, if I did it as noted instead, this wouldn’t have been a problem.

Wood Fence Panels as Shelves

As you can see the floor is uneven in the middle from walking over it, it was even worse on the sides, also, excuse the mess, I hadn’t swept it out in a while when the photo was taken.

I also used one of the pieces of the pickets that I cut off as a spacer for my automatic vent opener, which wasn’t allowing the window to close all the way when I first put it up.

I think my next project will be to use the extra 2×4 leftover from building the greenhouse to make a folding potting bench that will lay (nearly) flat against the back wall when not in use. I don’t quite have it designed in my head yet either, but I will do a post when it’s done… And this time I’ll remember to take pictures of all of the steps!

Garden Bed Ideas: Turn Boring Lawns into a Great Garden Spaces

Last year I received a raised bed gardening kit as a birthday present, but I never had time to put it out and plant it. I made up a bunch of garden bed ideas for it over the winter and finally decided to add a couple more beds to an unused area of lawn by purchasing another raised bed kit, and by moving the bed that the corn was in the last few years alongside them.

The plan extends further with refinishing the shed, and adding some grape vines and a flower garden, but that will all come in the next few years. For right now all I am planning is adding the rhubarb and blueberries close to the edge of the mulch and moving the remaining raspberries from behind the house to the bed with the rest of them. I will also need to build a trellis, as I am planting beans and peas in the middle bed of the three.

Before

Before

Bland, boring and weed filled. Something had to be done…

As you can see, there wasn’t much to the space before I started with the new garden area. The lawn here has a lot of dandelions that you can’t really see in the picture because it was just mowed the day before, but trust me, they’re plentiful. Along with the dandelions the dandelions there was a bit of clover and a bunch of quack grass mixed in with the lawn.

Step 1:

Step 1

This is just after the step one described, but you get the idea.

I thought about putting down some cardboard with some landscape fabric on top to hold it down, and cedar mulch on top of that. This works for broad leaf weeds, and for stopping new weeds from germinating in the area, but eventually the quack grass always seems to make its way up through once the cardboard is gone. This makes it almost impossible to remove, as when it you pull up the grass, it pulls up the cloth as well, and this was not ideal for the area I was working in since there is so much quack grass there.

I decided on using tarps because they covered a large area and were cheap when compared to the other options I looked into, and they are thick enough not to allow the quack grass through. The downside is that over time they can end up ruining the soil underneath them, which I am fine with, since this is going to be a permanent fixture in the yard. I wouldn’t recommend tarps for covering any area which might be changed around after a season or two.

Tarps will work for preparing a garden area a season in advance much like many people do by setting out garbage bags to cover an area to get rid of any vegetation before removing them the next season and planting in the spot where they were. Tarps can catch wind under them easily, and rip out landscape staples though, so you should also set something on them along the edges to keep them in place.

Step 2:

Step 2

The centers have been cut out of two of the three beds.

I set out the raised beds on the tarps where they needed to go, and cut the tarp out of the middle of the beds. I made sure to leave a small overhang of tarp (about an inch) on the inside of each bed to help hold the tarp down leaving a little extra would compensate for the tarp settling into its final position as the vegetation underneath dies.

Step 3:

Step 3

The sod has been removed, and the cardboard is in place.

Once the tarp was cut away, I dug out all of the sod in the left hand bed with my garden fork, removed any quack grass rhizomes and weed roots, and returned the soil to the bed. To get the soil back I just removed it from the old sod by shaking it, and pulling away at any big chunks. I then tossed the sod aside and it will be used to fill in a dip in the yard later on.

With the other two beds I thought it would be safe just to put cardboard over the entirety of the openings to keep the weeds down. I figure that this should work, for them, since by the time the cardboard degrades, the weeds will be gone, and there should be enough tarp in between the beds and the edge that the quack grass can’t find its way through. I have decided to plant some shallow rooted vegetables and flowers in those beds this season as well, so there was no need to dig down like I did in the corn bed.

Step 4:

Step 4 Part 1

Just lift the ends of the tarp to roll and mix the compost.

I mixed three kinds of compost with some peat moss and vermiculite to make some “Mels Mix” to start filling the beds, and I used the soil from the old corn bed to finish filling them. I put all of the ingredients on yet another tarp, and roll them into each other to mix the pile easier.

Step 4 Part 2

All of the compost and soil is in place.

Step 5:

Finished

It took a few days but in the end I could not be happier with the results.

It took eight bags of cedar mulch, but a good thick layer was needed to add weight to the tarps in case of a big wind storm (which we are actually having as I write this) so that they don’t fly away, or tear and let the weeds through. It also makes the whole area look really nice, and though the area wasn’t leveled, it looks more like it was now as well thanks to the mulch.

With the beds in place, and filled with the compost mix, I can get out there and plant them. The left hand bed will get corn in it once again, but instead of the four to six inches of compost mix it was growing in before, it now has about a foot of room for the roots. The middle one will have a trellis and some assorted vegetables, and I haven’t decided yet on the last one, though I think this year I might just put some flowers in it and collect the seeds for next year.

As always, I will keep you all updated on how they come along.