The Shed

The Shed
The Shed

Thursday, May 31, 2012


HowwwwwwDEEEEEE! It's me! Aunt Agnes and Ah am as happy as a boar hawg in a pen fulla brood sows! We went out into the garden that Uncle Mac's Shed is the shed therefore, if you catch my drift, and WE all have a  SURPRISE for YEW! Woooo Hoooo! Can all Y'all guess what it is? Ah'll give yew a hint, its what's fer dinner

It's turnips!

Yummy turnips!

Yew can boil' em,

You can broil 'em,

'cause they's turnips!

Turn 'em into turnip-slaw,

Steam 'em in a pot!

Skewer 'em for shish - ka - bob,

Yew can eat 'em cold or hot!

They's turnips, yummy turnips!

They's hunnerts in the plot!

Shoot Ah'm so gosh dern excited Ah might just do a fandango right here and now! Here Ah go!

[ Uncle Mac's editorial note: There followed a mercifully brief interval wherein Agnes, a butt in one hand and a Lone Star in the other, a turnip clenched between her, uh, tooth broke into a kind of manic buck and wing. We had recorded this, but destroyed the only copy. There are some things one simply does not do to the readers.  

Whew! Well now, gotta ketch ma breath...Ain't quite as young as I useta be...


Well anyway folks that's the latest gardening triumph here at the shed. Looks like peas and cabbage are right around the bend, we'll keep yew posted! 


Some may remember the post from earlier in the year, describing how to cut a single log in such a way as to use it to construct a 4' x 10' raised bed.

Here is that bed, laid in position, staked in place with pipe, an iron stake and for the most part, scraps of 2" x 2".

It has been deep dug and the soil augmented and returned with compost and other amendments added in. Sifted compost is particularly well represented in the top six inches of the bed and is responsible for the rich color and texture of the planting medium. Earthworms will be drawn to this bed like politicians to a fundraiser, which is of course, is a good thing. More on the earthworm topic HERE.

Anyone who missed the first segment wherein the slabs for the sides of the beds were created can take a look at it right HERE.

This bed will be the new home of perhaps eight tomato plants, Brandywines, Old Germans, grape tomatoes; heirlooms all. We'll be saving the seeds for next years planting.

Remember, whether you are building new beds or replacing old ones, split logs last a long time and cost nothing at all.

We'll be sure to update you as the tomatoes grow and ripen. In the meantime, thanks as always for pausing for a moment at Uncle Mac's Garden Shed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


What is big, blue, warty, and lurks in the garden? Did you say: "Uncle Mac on a frosty winters night?"

While technically correct it is not exactly the answer we were looking for. We were thinking of something a bit more wholesome like a blue hubbard squash.

Blue Hubbards and in fact Hubbards squash of all hues are no longer as common as they were in the early years of the 20th century and before, when they were one of the few foods that could be counted on to pass through a long winter unspoiled, if kept properly. Large - some can weigh thirty pounds or even more - and with a singularly tough rind, Hubbards need to be kept in a cool, but not cold or freezing well ventilated and dry environment.

In the past special "squash houses" would be constructed to preserve Hubbards and large butternut squash to supply eager markets in New York City, Boston and Chicago. Some farmers and tradesmen became very wealthy on this crop alone.


The Hubbard squashes come to us from South America where apparently they have been cultivated for some 4000 years. Tradition has it that they were brought to Marblehead Massachusetts in the late 1700's, aboard whaling vessels. A woman named Elizabeth Hubbard may have been responsible for spreading and endorsing the seeds, and gave her name to the veggie in the process.

Would you like to grow this fine heirloom squash? The seeds are readily available and culture is exactly the same as for any large pumpkin. Prepare large hills 8 feet apart or so. Work lots of compost into the soil and if very well rotted horse manure is available  - not fresh enough to burn the tender squash roots - a few shovels full of that would not be amiss. Allow a maximum of 3 plants per hill and water the plants well. Hubbards will run all over the place on vines 20 feet long or longer, so prior planning is essential.

Hubbards can take 110 days to develop fully so if you want some for this season you have to plant them a soon as possible.

There are many ways to use the Hubbard squash's bright orange meat, and these include all the standard uses that any winter squash or pumpkin can be put to. You may roast them, steam them, make a custard or squash pie, or even as the key ingredient in many tasty soups. They also, with a great deal of work, be fashioned into really quirky jack-o-lanterns. The rinds are very difficult to cut.

In fact, the easiest way to open a Blue Hubbard for processing is to place it in a large plastic bag, walk out on the patio, raise it chest high and drop it.

This excellent old squash has two mortal enemies that need to be thwarted if you are to be the one to enjoy its goodness. The first is the all too common squash bug; once established this scourge will suck the vines dry and kill the plant before the squash can mature. Indifferent to most controls the best way to avoid them is to pick their orange eggs from the underside of the leaves and destroy them.

The second adversary is Mr. Bear. Not deterred in the least by the tough rind this furry rapscallion will happily shatter your nearly ripe squash with the flick of one paddle-like paw. He has no interest in the squash at all, but will eat every single seed from the core. He will seldom breach a stout fence to do this, but when he is sufficiently hungry, all bets are off.

Time, as they say, is wasting! Why not give these fine old squash a (large) corner in your garden. You might be pleasantly surprised!

As always, thanks for stopping by at Uncle Mac's. If you like it here, why not become a member? Just click on the link at the upper right.

Monday, May 28, 2012


Farm Girl here! What is it with you folks and dibbles? Its a simple concept, really, and we are spending much too much time on it in my view. Let us review:


This is a Sharpie Marker. When it is no longer useful as a marker the gray end can be usefully employed as a dibble. A dibble, for those of you stopping by for the first time is an instrument to poke holes in the soil so as to facilitate planting seeds, bulbs, spuds or whatever. I know these things, I took a course in dibblery at Texas A & M.

Sharpies come in many sizes so if you mark up enough stuff, you can have a full set. There, that seems clear enough, one would think.


This however, is a Sharpei an adorable Chinese wrinkle dog, and not to be trained to dig holes in the garden so you can plant your tomatoes, no muss no fuss! What do you suppose is going to happen once your doggy finds out how nice and soft and funky smelling your garden soil is?

Today, a neat and tidy well ordered and plotted garden; tomorrow, a crater!

And please continue to leave Mr. Dibble alone as well.

I hope this is the end of confusion over dibbles, I have parsnips to plant!

Farm Girl, I'm outie!

Monday, May 21, 2012


Farm Girl here! Let's cut to the chase!

In the wake of a distressing episode that occurred over the week end on location at the "digs" (if you will) of an East Pennsylvania gardener who shall remain nameless, and on behalf of Uncle Mac's Garden Shed, I would like to clarify a few points on the subject of dibbles, and dibblery in general.

To wit:

Acceptable dibbling devices

These are dibbles, and any and all may be profitably employed to pierce the soil so as to better plant seeds, roots, rhizomes, tubers, bulbs, sets and

Equally acceptable
 This is a Sharpie permanent marker, a fine writing and labeling product which may, when the reservoir of ink which makes this instrument so valuable in its original capacity becomes exhausted, be used to great effect as a dibbling tool. You can dibble yourself blue in the face with a Sharpie, and we bid you God speed. It is particularly useful for the pre-dibbling of onion plant holes.

It is here displayed next to the nearly identical "Shoupie" marker which can, in a pinch, be employed as a dibble as well.

This however is Mr. Rob Dibble, enormously talented and well respected former major league baseball player who is not, repeat not to be mistaken for a gardening implement under any set of circumstances! We have no intention of detailing the unfortunate events of the preceding 48 hours which, as they did not happen here, are still mercifully vague. But this sort of thing should never occur.

There is enough stress in the world today without dibbling malfunctions!

Well a word to the wise should be sufficient so at this point...what's that, Uncle Mac? Oh put that away that isn't a Sharpie! I know a Sharpie when I see one! I graduated Texas A & M and don't you forget it!

Where was I? Oh yeah, mind your dibbles and as always, thanks for checking out Farm Girls Corner!


Sunday, May 20, 2012


Hi boys and girls it's the Children's Hour with your favorite hack, Leatherface! Brunch? Did someone say brunch? Well yes there is a brunch today in fact, we'll be serving eggs Benedict. Should cause quite a ruckus at the Vatican but you can't make an omelet without...well never mind.

Today we will be discussing the raccoon - procyon lotor to science and those who like to show off - one of the tougher adversaries to deal with when trying to grow vegetables in the home garden, at least when that vegetable is sweet corn.

Raccoon depredations can be completely avoided simply by not growing corn, or fruit such as strawberries inside the garden enclosure. While raccoons are the consummate omnivore they are not terribly interested in our tomatoes, onions and broccoli in the raw state. Just cook them up and toss the leftovers in the garbage tho, and magically they become fascinating to the little beady eyed burglars. They will happily redecorate your lawn with the contents of the garbage can.

The fence, of course, is totally useless if there is something the raccoon is interested in, ie. sweet corn or fruit, inside. He, she or most probably, they, can climb anything you can build. An electrified fence is really your only option if you wish to grow corn or berries and raccoons are established in the area. These work very well indeed, raccoons have extremely sensitive paws and hate to be shocked.

Live trapping can work very well if you are facing a single male raccoon or a female who you are certain is not nursing cubs. Re-locate the captured varmint a looong ways off, or like Arnold, they'll be back. Be careful when you do so, you are probably breaking any number of laws.

There is no animal we know of that cares less about commercially prepared deterrent or repellent scents, or for pepper concoctions mixed in the home. You are wasting time and money.    

Except for the occasional lone male, or female between litters raccoons generally come in bunches, called "nurseries". This may consist of as many as eight raccoons as a healthy, well fed female can produce as many as seven viable offspring.

The raccoon method of corn chompery is of the type to guarantee maximum damage. Raccoons like to climb the stalk, sway it to and fro until it cracks under the weight of their fat little bellies and then eat a little bit of each ear before pulling down the next stalk and sampling that one as well. A half dozen raccoons can easily demolish 40, even 50 stalks in one corn fest and even if a little is left over they will be back the following night and so on, until they can scarcely waddle away, they are so full of your tender Silver Queen.

Don't feed them they will NEVER leave if you do!
 Those are your somewhat limited options, remove the raccoon(s) electrify your fencing or don't grow sweet corn or fruit and your other vegetables will be fine.


That about wraps up this episode of the Children's Hour. As always, thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

FARM GIRL'S CORNER - How to do the job right in the vegetable garden

Hi its me Farm Girl! I help Uncle Mac in the garden and around the shed and things like that. You know, a lot of folks don't know how important it is to maintain a clean environment when gardening. Seeding pots that are not cleansed season to season, or tools between usings can spread disease from plant to plant and bed to bed, from one season to the next!

A dirty hoe can spread Verticillium Wilt before you can say Jack Robinson!

Did you say "Jack Robinson"?

See how quickly that can happen?

Well today I was keeping everything nice and tidy. Mac did some weeding, and then I cleaned his tool. He transplanted some seedlings and I made sure that tool was spotless! Then he poked in some seeds and I polished his dibble like it's never been polished, if I do say so myself. Old fool probably won't wake up until late afternoon tomorrow at best!

But I'm here today to link you to a positive plethora of valuable articles on how to get things done in the garden. With no further ado:

Do you love fresh juicy watermelons? And not just watermelons but cantaloupes and honeydew melons, and all the sweet exotics that have become available in recent years? This little guide will help you grow melons that your neighbors will envy! Just click HERE:

Do you like Lima beans? Pole beans, peas, cucumbers or gourds? These are a few of the many veggies that would climb a trellis willingly and benefit from the climb. A trellis can be as simple or as ornate and complex as you like but if you are a gardener you are going to need one or more. Some thoughts on trellising, right HERE:

You too can grow your own edible bamboo; yes its true, and many do. Our Asian brethren and cistern know how tasty this exotic side dish can be. You do, however need to take a few precautions because when cyanide is involved, well, bad things can happen. Tips for growing this unusual, delightful and delectable addition to the western garden are spelled out for you, right HERE:

Do you believe in minding your P's and Q's? Here at the shed we pretty much tend to ignore Q's except during scrabble-thons or words with friends. P's, or more accurately, peas, have our undivided attention. And what do peas want to be productive garden denizens? A little sun, a bit of compost, some nitrogen fixin' bacteria and water. AND good neighbors! To find crop enhancing companion plants to bolster your pea patch, simply click HERE:

Somewhere on this ball of rock hurtling through the void there might be a serious gardener without a compost heap to his or her credit. I've never met one, and don't actually wish too. Compost is probably the single most important component in a successful garden plot. Moderating PH levels, improving tilth, attracting earthworms, providing nutrients, forming a superior mulch; compost does all of this for the gardener, and more.

There are of course right and wrong ways to go about composting. Let Glory Lennon, award winning author of "Glory's Garden" teach you the correct way to go about it. She does so right HERE

Onions, everyone seems to like them, and they can be used in so many ways. But have you ever wanted to grow a truly ginormous onion? One that stops browsers in their tracks at the county fair? Well here is a blueprint for success in gigantic onionry.

There are however a few updates since the original article was written:

Ailsae onions are no longer as rare as once they were, both plants and seeds are now widely available in the US.

The admonition about mulching with grass clippings remains true - however a mulch composed of well aged sifted compost made by the "hot" or "fast" process to kill all weed seeds is highly recommended.

Following these instructions will result in large onions indeed. The Brits, who apparently care about such things, stress that to grow a potential world record breaker strictly controlled green house methods alone will get the job done. For the rest of us the great outdoors is just fine:

With that out of the way, for humongous onions, click HERE

Not satisfied with taking home the blue ribbon for biggest onions? You want the tomato award as well? Let us see what we can do to help you out. Just click right HERE:  

Hmmmm. Someone seems missing from the usual cast of characters here at the shed today. Who could it be? I'm here...Leatherface is cutting firewood...Delacroix is cleaning that big ass rifle...Uncle Mac, passed out on the hay bales, snoring. Kinda sounds like a chain saw with a bad carburetor, doesn't he? Jack is researching a "Dead from the Shed" post. Aunt Agnes - why is Aggy still here, anyone? Hmmm? Well anyway Aggy is getting herself outside of a quart of Jack Black.

The critters? Dire and Nero are trying to imitate nice dawgies...Mrs. BobKat is sleeping in the rafters...Blinky scooted past with a dead chipmunk just a few seconds ago...Oh I know! No Clem! No garden worth its parsnip should be missing Clem! Clem who? Clematis of course. Here once again is Glory with the Queen Clematis story.

Pole beans or bush beans, that is the question. Here at the Shed we love 'em both and grow both types every year. But for the first time gardener there may well be good reason to go with bush beans. We are happy to give you our two cents worth about that, right HERE!

So you've built your raised beds, added rich garden soil and compost, is there anything else that could make this splendid situation even better? Of course there is! Simply invite about a thousand of your best gardening buddies and helpers, the earthworms. Let us tell you why, right HERE!

Well there you have it! A wealth of information at your finger tips, do with it what you will. Until next time, and as always, thank you for visiting Farm Girls Corner! 

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Hi! Aunt Agnes here with a veggie update! Ah woulda put it on Farm Girl's Corner but she changed her password and forgot to tell me. Well we hauled in the first crop today and Ah'm so gosh durn proud Ah'm crowin'! Cock-a-doodle doo! Well hell any cock will do but that's not why Ah'm here!

Now would yew jist lookit this! And it were a' right tasty too!

These radishes, now have a lot more vitamins, minerals and even Omega-3 than most people know about. You can learn all abot the good things radishes do for you, right HERE!

That's all I wanted to show all y'all tonight but I'll be back as soon as somethin' interestin' happens! Now Ah gotta go watch wrasslin' on the cable box.

(Face it some o' y'all didn't really think we was gardeners, didja?)

See y'all next time!


Or rather, no she won't. We received enough comments and e-mail after Aggy stepped in when Farm Girl was away to know this is a non-starter, and we have a plan.

It gets darker than pitch outside at night when there is no moon, and you have to move around by instinct more or less. Next new moon we're gonna fill old Aggie up with home brew and Leatherfaces' special chili, and for desert give her chocolate cake with chocolate ex-lax icing.

Then me and Leatherpuss will go out and move the out house about 8 feet further down the path.

Should wrap things up nicely!

Thanks for stopping by, even if it was only for this!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Hallo everyone, its your favorite cut up and baby sitter Leatherface! Usually I run little educational snippets for the kiddies on how to control garden pests and other things but today, I've asked all the parents here because we are having trouble with an old nemesis that we really have had little success controlling in the past. We thought someone might have a helpful suggestion. Help yourself to the beans, weenies and fixin's on the sideboard before we get down to biz here.

Whats that, Mrs. Quackenbush? Nathan's weenie? Well one might have been a Nathan it's so difficult to keep track over the years.

Know your varmint: Here she is folks, the bane of our existence here at the shed. We don't who she is, because we can't catch her to ask so we just call her Pineapple Girl. I can tell you, this is about the only glimpse of her we ever get, scooting around a corner - she's abnormally quick for a short little woman - usually with our best pineapple in her mitts and a goofy grin - well represented here I think - on her face.

Once she scoots around a corner she disappears completely, not even footprints left behind, or a scent for the wolves to pick up. This leads us to think she has found at least one of the worm holes in the garden (not the ones made by our slimy little garden allies) which makes her more difficult to contend with than say, hungry raccoons which although undoubtedly clever little beasts are not noted for their ability to manipulate space-time.

Yes, question, Mallory? How do we manage to grow pineapples here in North Jersey? We like
pineapples, my friend. And we are gardening wizards after all, aren't we? Have another weenie?

Live traps don't work, electrified fencing doesn't work, predator pee - well I leave it to you. Dusts, sprays, CD's on string, pah! She sneezes at them.

Uncle Mac says she can't outrun a bullet but, despite the bizarre trophies he brings home now and then, I don't see him loading the ol' Springfield.

She doesn't confine herself merely to pineapples; eggplant, butternut squash and Kossack kohlrabi seem to be on her list as well. She snatched our biggest Burgermeister Grande termato last summer on a dead run, just as farm girl was about to pick it! A two legged scourge!

We that's it for today, folks, put your heads together and see if you can help us solve the Pineapple Girl Mystery, you might win a valuable prize! (If you consider 10 lbs of Uncle Mac's Special Compost valuable, that is.) As always, thank you for visiting here at The Children's Hour!