Dueling DIY Week 5

Five weeks ago Sarah in Illinois and I started a friendly Dueling DIY competition to help us get our gardens in shape. In last week’s update, Sarah was distracted by newborn kittens and falling behind. I gave a fist pump and started to calculate how much farther ahead I could get. But apparently I was counting my kittens before they hatched as the saying goes. With just one week left, I’ve had a setback. Read on to find out what happened and if you want to review the progress we’ve made up to now, you can check out all of the previous posts here.

Let’s start with the bad news first.

#1: In this Dueling DIY challenge, this is all of the cuteness I can offer. Cute absolutely, but perhaps not at the level of Sarah’s kitten cuteness.


Bad news #2: Some of our sprouts aren’t doing so hot. I think it might be a case of damping off. Although some things might be turning around. (More on this below).

Wilted watermelon seedling

And the worst news: We lost a full weekend of work because both Matt and I are sick. I ventured outside at one point and spent 45 minutes lying on the lawn when I felt like I couldn’t stand up anymore. Matt is on antibiotics for throat and ear infections. I’m holding on to my belief that this is just a cold. The amount of time we spent horizontal meant that we didn’t spend time working in the garden. So, so, so incredibly frustrating.

But between the time of my last update and being struck down with this plague, we had accomplished a few things. So there is some good news in this Dueling DIY challenge.

We have a new team member: Colonel Briggs. Short for Briggs and Stratton, our new rototiller. Honestly, Matt’s been wanting an upgrade since we inherited Fairfield. When he brought the Colonel home, he declared that the rototiller couldn’t have just a single name, hence the title.

Matt put the Colonel to work right away, and they’ve tilled half the garden.

(A face shield is not normally necessary for tilling. Matt wanted ear protection, and his chainsaw helmet was closest).

Tilling the garden

We’re thisclose on the raised beds. I have about four timbers left to set–less than 1/8 of the perimeter to go. Then I have to spread the cardboard, layer in the mulch and top them up with dirt.

Raised garden bed made of logs

We had four yards of triple mix delivered, and I’ve filled the raised beds more than half of the way around the garden. I feel I have to say the beds would be completely done if we hadn’t been sick. Argh.

Four yards of topsoil

Despite not being finished with the garden set-up, we’ve already moved on to planting. Three (!) rows of potatoes are in, and we’re not done yet. A new shipment of seed potatoes arrived in the mail yesterday.

Potato shoot

I’ve also planted eight grape vines. I’m so excited about these grapes. Although I fully admit that I have no idea what I’m doing with them. I’m trying to read about pruning and planting and trellising and training. Right now, I’m focusing on watering them and keeping my fingers crossed that they take root. Please share any tips you have.

Freshly planted grape vines

In terms of smaller updates, let’s start with the literally small–the sprouts. As you saw at the top, we’ve had a lot of shriveling and dying. We’re down to just one watermelon out of seven. We lost about half the tomatoes too. I think it was a case of damping off, so I’m giving the watering can a rest.

The sprouts continued to die, but I was very surprised that some new sprouts started popping up as things dried out. We have a new watermelon–our first of the Crimson Sweet variety–and a whole bunch of new tomatoes. I know I’m going to have to separate the sprouts that are doubled (or tripled) up. I’m not sure I can bring myself to pinch out the extra sprouts, but I’m not sure I can keep everyone alive if I try to separate and transplant them. Any advice?

Crimson Sweet watermelon sprout

Pepper and tomato seedlings

The other win is that the raspberries–black and red–are weeded. And the raspberries themselves are spreading like weeds. I’m so pleased with how they’ve settled in.

Young raspberry canes

And if we hadn’t spent our whole weekend horizontal, we would have the trellises set up to support them.


Let’s move on, shall we? We’ll take a look at the original to-do list. Again, I can cross a little bit more off.

  • Hang the gate
  • Edge the garden
  • Build raised beds around the perimeter (more than half done)
  • Build trellises for the raspberries, tomatoes and squashes
  • Start a few seeds indoors
  • Till in the ash, straw and manure (half done)

Only one week to go in this Dueling DIY challenge. Send vitamins.

6 thoughts on “Dueling DIY Week 5

  1. Well, that’s no fair, I can’t gloat on my win when my competitor is sick! (If anyone knew how far behind I was, they would laugh at my smack talk!)

    Seriously though, I hope you feel better soon.

    And you raspberries look so healthy!!

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