Mar 152014
 

Garden Update 2014

This past week has seen me doing very little in the way of gardening.  I was able to take a few minutes here and there to thin out the seedlings I have already started.

So what was I doing instead of gardening?

  • Catching up on over a week’s worth of laundry – something that is possible now that it isn’t 5 degrees outside
  • dental appointments
  • having required home visit for our foster care license
  • finished patching kids’ jeans
  • making the spare bedroom visitor friendly again.  It had become a catch-all room plus a DIY project in progress.
  • making our bedroom visitor and kid friendly (chose to place these visitors here due to the work we are doing in the spare bedroom.  It is very much not kid friendly right now.)
  • making meals for the freezer
  • finding an outfit to wear to court
  • updating my wardrobe (if I was going to toss out clothes I needed enough left to actually have something to wear, by choice I don’t have a lot of clothes – I decluttered 9 shirts)
  • setting up and going to MOPS
  • entertaining 2 different sets of overnight visitors
  • watching a friend’s kid (my kid loved the impromptu play-date and lunch out)
  • going to an all-day conference

Oh, yeah and ADOPTING OUR KIDS!!

I was hoping you all would understand why this just wasn’t the week to be doing a lot of gardening and why my posts have not been my normal schedule.  It has definitely been a full week, and the house looks so much better for it.

picked up bedroom

This upcoming week has a lot more free time, very few required places for me to be or things to accomplish.  I  plan on making the most of it while I can.

Gardening and Home Goals for the week of March 16, 2014:

Call school to inform them this will be the last week in preschool for my youngest.

List all the start dates for the seeds I have.

Start seeds that should already have been started.

Work on removing 2 lilac bush stumps.

Plant peach tree? – I may hold off on this one for another week.

Add mulch to areas around the yard, if the mulch pile is no longer frozen on top.

Declutter 49 items.

Cook and freeze pork roasts in refrigerator.

Create more omelette kits for freezer.

Plant 200 – 300 onion sets – if ground isn’t still frozen.

green onions in raised bed 2I am very ready for the 2014 gardening season.  However, if I don’t start now with my garden jobs, soon it will be an overly busy time and I’ll get behind.  The warmer weather will appear before we know it – though I’m not convinced we are through with snow storms or freezing temperatures.

How are your gardens or garden preparations coming along?

Jun 262013
 

2013 Garden Update

Sorry for the initial lack of pictures.  I went to get the camera out of the car to take some photos and realized my husband took the car instead of walking, like usual, to the park.  So you all will have to wait till tomorrow.

This has been quite the day.  I fully expected to wake up to most of the garden laying on its’ side or blown away.  The storms woke me up last night because of the strong winds.  Not the thunder or lightening, though there was a fair share of it.  It was the gusting wind.  However, the garden seems to have fared well.  That is something I can not say for farmers around us or gardeners out in the country.  Perhaps it was the protection of trees overhead and an outbuilding on the side the storm was coming from.  Whatever it was, I didn’t have near the problems with plants being blown over that some of my other local gardening friends had.  Just yesterday one was telling me how great the sweet corn looked in their garden … this morning it was all laying on its side.

I have another tomato turning read.  Okay, that gave me a chuckle.  The fact that I’m still reporting on tomatoes one at a time rather than by the  pound or quart.  This is something I have had to remember and remind others of – this year has given all of us a slow start to our gardens.  Whether it has meant multiple plantings (wind, cold weather, pests, etc.), seeds not sprouting, gardening being drowned due to the rain, there seems to be a delay in almost all gardens.

One plant that seems to be finally thriving with all this water is my summer squash plants in the new raised bed.  This is also the one I’m using for the 5×5 Challenge, though it is 3 feet x 8 feet.  The tomatoes are doing well, growing tall (unlike last year).  The beans are blooming.  I still have some white onions to take out and process.  I’m not in a hurry at this particular moment as it isn’t really warm enough for them to start putting out seed.

The strawberry plants are doing fine, with several more strawberries produced this past week.  The herbs also seem to be doing okay, though not fabulous.  We’ll have to see what the rest of the season brings them.  The blackberry bushes are having another growth spurt.  I really need to fence them in and remove the small enclosures around them.  I initally put these small wire enclosures around them to keep out the rabbits and such.  They have outgrown these and need to have more room to grow.

The beans, squash and tomatoes in my south facing garden are doing … okay.  The one tomato plant is still not growing, the squash are a variety of sizes even though they were all planted at the same time, and the beans are starting to look a bit yellow.  A gardening friend said that with all the rain her garden was doing the same thing, and that a dose of fertilizer fixed all the issues.  I know she is right, but I just hesitate to use fertilizers.  I’d much rather do it naturally, though I will be kicking myself later this year if all the plants are dead or stunted because of my stubbornness.  As I don’t have fertilizer here at the house, I’m using that as an excuse as to why I haven’t done it yet.    These particular plants are mulched and have compost in the soil.  I’ve thought about top dressing with worm castings from my worm bin, but wasn’t sure if that would fix the issues.  Either way worm castings are a good thing.  I just don’t want to do that instead of something else only to realize a few weeks down the road that it isn’t what was needed.  Any recommendations as to a good fertilizer?  Thoughts about using worm castings?

Jun 192013
 

2013 Garden Update

 

 Some late planted zucchini sprouts have appeared.  Now to see if they will last till I am able to put up some sort of rabbit deterrent.

zucchini seedlings by shed bed

The first red tomato appeared earlier this week.  This is off one of the tomato plants that was quite large when I planted it.  It is from one of the plants whose tomatoes and blooms I did not remove.  These plants looked in bad shape the first several weeks after planted, then seemed to settle in and make a good come back.
first red tomato of the season 2013

This week also brought about the first cucumber bloom.  I’m hoping these get pollinated this year; I would really like some cucumbers and not just great looking plants.

first cucumber blossom of the season 2013

The summer squash plant in the 5×5 Challenge bed seemed to have doubled in size overnight.  That is what summer rains will do for a garden. I have been slowly harvesting the green onions you see around the squash plant.  I have taken out four large bunches and still have many more to go.  Guess that is what happens when you plant a few hundred onions.  🙂  Update: I harvested another bunch just now to sell to a customer at our stand.  I usually trim the greens as they are very long this year and tip over any container I put them in.  The customer was interested in some with the greens still attached, so I walked out to the garden, harvested some and sold them to said customer.  I love keeping things small and personal.

summer squash plant in 5x5 challenge bed June 17 2013

The seeds in the patio planter are starting to appear.  The flower ones that is.  I have yet to see the basil seedlings make an appearance.  This is currently in a spot that gets afternoon sun.  I may move it so it gets more sun.  It can always be moved if it is getting too much.flower seedling in potting soil

The bean plants in my kitchen garden bed.  I’m curious to see how these grow as I have planted beans in the past … on my own that is, we had them in the garden growing up.


Harvest to date:  5 bunches onions (one bunch = as many as I can hold in one hand without them dropping out, I’ll count and estimate later), 2 strawberries (2 more ready to pick) and 1 tomato.  


Jun 142013
 

2013 Garden Update

Okay, so it is Friday already and I had planned to post this on Wednesday.  I’m not really sure what happened, but that is the way I’m rolling this week.

The rain these past few weeks is finally starting to show in the garden.  The tomato plants are either taking off or producing fruit, depending on the type and when I planted them.  The beans and summer squash have fully sprouted.  The zucchini I planted for the FOURTH time also came up … then disappeared so I think something ate it as this was in an unfenced spot.  I also replanted strawberries.  My herb bed was furnished with some starts someone had but didn’t need, as my seeds there were either really behind in coming up or didn’t come up at all.  (This doesn’t seem to be the year for seeds for me.)

My first harvest took place of two bundles of green onions.  These were grown with no chemicals, yet they didn’t sell on the produce stand.  I’m a bit surprised as several of our customers are picky about that sort of thing.  I cut part of the tops off the two bunches of onions I put on the stand and was able to chop those and freeze them to use later in soups and such.  I’ll be doing that with the rest of the onions as their tops are long.  The red onions seemed to have fair badly with all the rain and became mushy.  The yellow ones did much better.  They didn’t grow round on the end like I had hoped, but they are decent for green onions.  Anyone have tips on growing green onions?  Am I missing something in my soil that will help them grow better?

I also got the cucumbers planted, as well as the patio planter with a few more tomatoes and some herbs.  The tomatoes in the patio planter were the ‘rejects’ from the rest of the plants I had.  They were the smallest and the furthest behind growth wise.  As it is, I have tomato plants in several different stages of development in the different areas of my garden.  This should mean that I don’t have a large harvest all at once, which wasn’t planned but may turn out to be a good thing.

Here is the garden bed under my kitchen window.  I came back from camping a few weeks back and was surprised to see my bean had sprouted (in the upper left corner of the picture), as well as my yellow squash (most of the other plants).  The three tomato plants in the bottom left of the picture are white heirloom tomatoes that I got from someone.  I wasn’t sure how the wood mulch would do right next to them so I cut some milk jugs and used them to create sort of wells to plant inside of.  Of the three plants, two are doing great and one is just looking wimpy.  Not sure what the difference is.

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This is the bed I’m using for the 5 x 5 Challenge.  The bare spot in the middle is where I harvested some onions.  I really need to finish harvesting the onions on the right side of the bed, to allow more room for the other plants to grow.  I added a few sugar snap peas to a bare spot along the trellis.  They have come up, as have the other beans.  The tomato plants are growing and the squash are doing okay.  Some of the flower seeds I added on a whim are also growing, though I don’t remember what kind they are.

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The first planting of strawberries was a disaster.  I’m thinking something got in there and ate them before I was able to put a fence up.  Finally I gave up and went to a local store and bought plants.  Imagine my surprise when I got to the cash register and they were half price … I went and bought six more.  My hope, plan, is for their runners to grow and fill in this whole area.  They are doing great so far and we have little strawberries already growing with  more blooms on the plants.  These are ever-bearing so they should produce some this year.  I also planted a row of sugar snap peas along the left side of the beds as this side is right up against the fence.  Half the beans sprouted and are a foot tall.  The other half are just starting to show.

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The herb bed is another area that I finally gave into the fact that wishing doesn’t make it so.  The cilantro and basil seeds just weren’t sprouting.  When someone called and asked if I wanted some herb transplants, including basil, I said “YES!”  I now have sage, orange mint, parsley, oregano, two kinds of basil, and thyme, in addition to the two cilantro seedlings that decided to appear.  My hope is to make this my herb bed and have some of the plants be perennial.  The sage and mint should come back year after year.  Actually, I should have an issue with keeping them in control.  However, my “should’s” this year haven’t turned out that way so I’m not counting my chicks just yet.

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We got the rest of the mulch spread around the blackberry plants.  This area looks so much better and the mulch should help keep the soil moist in addition to enriching it.

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I was also able to put up four hanging planters with cucumbers.  The first year I did cucumber plantings this way turned out fabulous.  The second year, not so much.  I think it had to do with me remembering to water.  Last year the plants looked fabulous but there were no insects to pollinate them, so the blooms didn’t produce cucumbers.  I’m hoping I didn’t shoot myself in the foot yesterday when I sprayed the grass for mosquitoes (our kids react very badly to insect bites, otherwise I wouldn’t have done that).  These were my second batch of seedlings, as the first just didn’t come up.  Again, not my year for seedlings.  We’ll see how they go.  My goal was to have cukes for our weekly salads, but so far that hasn’t happened.

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This post is part of the 5 x 5 Garden Challenge.  The main goal of this challenge, according to Chiot’s Run blog, is to learn and encourage gardeners, especially new gardeners.  Please join us in the challenge and see how much you can do in a small space.

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May 232013
 

 SNOWY_GARDEN_SIGN

What a week of wind this has been.  It is still cool and wet, not at all the warm weather I, and my seeds, have been hoping for.  Is this the reason the majority of my seeds have not sprouted yet?  It isn’t snowy, like the picture above, but it for sure isn’t a warm Spring.

I did see a wonderful surprise today.  The summer squash I planted last week is starting to come up.  This bed is against the house on the south side.  I’m wondering if this has something to do with these seeds sprouting and not the others.  The other beds are a bit away from the house and on the north side, though in a sunny location.  The one against the house has the added advantage of heat from the house warming it.  Well, I say advantage, but that isn’t so in a hot summer when it bakes the plants.

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I am delighted to see my blackberry bush is still going strong …

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as is the blueberry bush ….

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My second, and newer, blackberry bush has yet to leaf out.  I’m thinking the cool weather has something to do with it.  It is still alive, so I am holding out hope.

Here are the four tomato plants I planted a few weeks ago.  The first two are ones I did not take the fruit or blooms off of.  They are looking a bit wimpy.

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The second pair are looking a lot better.  They haven’t grown much, but have perked up.

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The flowers seem to be doing well in the planters and in the bed.

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Week 5 of the 5×5 Garden Challenge is now underway.  Here is the update on the bed I’m using for the 5 x 5 challenge –

The wind has taken its toll on the onions tops.  They are laying every which way instead of straight up.

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There seems to be a Bermuda Triangle of sorts in the bed.  Whatever gets planted in this spot disappears – bean plants, tomato plant, onions … not sure why, but it just goes away.

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I also planted seeds here … again.  There used to be a zucchini transplant here … it disappeared.  I put in a second one.  It disappeared.  Third time is a charm, right?  I hope so.  We’ll see if summer squash have a better track record.DSCN7771

The 5 x 5 Garden Challenge started a few weeks ago.  The main goal of this challenge, according to Chiot’s Run blog, is to learn and encourage gardeners, especially new gardeners.  Please join us in the challenge and see how much you can do in a small space.

Round 5x5 logo
May 062013
 

pen and notepad

These are a bit late, but that is what happens when you are gone for the weekend at the end of a long week.  Not all things get done before leaving, such as writing up goals for the upcoming week.

My weekly goals this week are a mix of garden and decluttering, though I’m only going to post the gardening ones here.  Beyond that it will suffice to say that I hope to get rid clutter and items we don’t use or need, as it is making me feel as if all the stuff is closing in on me.  Just as I feel the house is overtaking me, I feel as if the time to plant is quickly passing.  It isn’t necessarily, and all the rain we have been getting hasn’t really been conducive to getting a garden in.  The feeling, though, is still there.  I’m thinking it has to do with the fact that we are coming off of almost two years of drought.  During that time I’ve come to realize just how important Spring rains are to the rest of the season.  It is a time when plants can get a healthy start on growing, one that will affect the harvest months down the road.

zucchini seedlings

One of the two zucchinis I planted at the end of last week was damaged in the rain over the weekend.  Thankfully I have extra transplants that I can replace it with.  Even if I didn’t, it is early enough to have put out seed.

My tomato plants really need to get in the ground, though I think the temperatures are still a bit cold.  They are getting too big to be in the little cells they are currently.  The result?  They are easily wilting due to the heat from the heat pad and the light from above.  So for now I am going to repot them into larger containers.

Last Week’s Gardening Goals

  1. I have finished edging, laying landscape fabric and mulching the front beds.
  2. I have gathered more mulch for the flower beds in the back. – I haven’t done this, though I saw a source for it and plan to go back and check it out this week if I have some free time.
  3. I set up the planting container for the deck. – I still need to add sand to the base and soil to the top (at which point I can plant).  However, the container itself is put together and that was my goal.
  4. I have added fencing for all the raised beds.
  5. I have added fencing for the small garden area under the kitchen window. – We are planning to have the house painted in the next few weeks.  I decided to wait on this garden bed till after that happens, as it is again the house.  I do have fencing and posts to use, though, so I’m ready to go once it gets painted in this section.
  6. I have put up the trellises for tomatoes and beans.
  7. I have planted zucchini, pole beans, cilantro and lettuce.
  8. I have bought basil and thyme seeds. – turns out I already have basil seeds.  I’m going to wait on buying thyme as I may be able to get transplants relatively cheap soon.
  9. I have started herb plants.
  10. I have finished reading: Bell Peppers: Growing Practices and Nutritional Value by Roby Jose Ciju

This Week’s Gardening Goals

  1. Plant basil seeds
  2. Plant parsley seeds
  3. Plant chive seeds
  4. Plant lettuce
  5. Plant spinach
  6. Trim bushes along front walkway
  7. Add mulch, as available, to beds around blackberry bushes
  8. Transplant tomato starts into larger containers

 

What are your goals for this week?

Apr 242013
 
Round 5x5 logo
Sorry for the publishing issues – this post originally published blank, several times.  My apologies. Now, on with the show.
The 5 x 5 Garden Challenge started a few weeks ago, though this is my first week participating.  The main goal of this challenge, according to Chiot’s Run blog, is to learn and encourage gardeners, especially new gardeners.  I haven’t been a new gardener for several years but always enjoy joining other gardeners in a challenge, especially one where you are encouraged instead of being put down or made to feel bad because of inexperience.  (I’ve actually been in that situation as a new gardener in a new-to-me-zone with a plot at a community garden; it actually made me not want to garden that year.)
After some thought I decided to use my new 3 x 8 bed for this challenge.  That puts it at 1 square foot less than a 5 x 5, but even they say to use what you have.  It is also the bed I was planning to put peppers and tomatoes in due to its depth.
The plants Chiot’s Run is planning on planting are: zucchini, tomatoes, scallions, beans, and lettuce.  Perfect.  I don’t normally grow beans but started some this year because I want to have some in the pantry come fall.  We are not huge bean eaters, but that has been changing over the past year.  While I’m not planting scallions I do have onion sets in already planted in the bed I chose to use for this challenge.  (Or is this an interchangeable term, depending  on where you live? like coke/soda/pop?)  Also zucchini seed are started and just appeared this past week and the lettuce seeds are just waiting for another successive planting somewhere.  I’ll add a few here.  I too am planning to plant marigolds and basil.  The marigolds have already been seeded into this bed and I am hoping those are the seedlings I see coming up.
all seedlings 2013
All of the seedlings I currently have under a grow light.
Cilantro seedlings
Cilantro seeds that appeared not quite a week ago.
tomato seedlings 2013 2
Two kinds of tomato seedlings.
zucchini seedlings
Zucchini, which needs planted soon.  From my reading of late I have learned that you should not disturb their roots while transplantings them to the garden.  There is a third one coming up that you can just see in the background starting to poke up out of the soil.  To the right are the bean plants, they are the very thin long plants.
cucumber and tomato seedlings
Cucumber and tomato seedlings the gardeners-in-training planted at a spring event.  These guys even survived having their soil greatly disrupted while on the way home.  I wasn’t even sure they were still in the pots, let along that they would appear.
green onions in raised bed 3
This is what the raised bed looked light tonight.  All the green are onions that are appearing.  Knowing the squirrels used this as their buffet for the first few days I wasn’t sure how many would appear.  After taking a rough estimate I figured there to be about 225 green onions in there.  The plan for these is the freezer for use in beef stews this coming winter.  Pearl onions are expensive at the store but a wonderful addition to a beef stew.
green onions in raised bed
Here is a closer photo of the onions.  There is a big difference in size of the tops that are currently showing.  I’m hoping this means that not all 200+ will be ready at one time.  I planted all the onion sets I had, though I think there would be enough time to do a second planting or to fill in the gaps.  There is enough room in this bed to plant 384 bulbs at 16 plants per square foot – 3′ x 8′ = 24 sq ft x 16 = 384  When I bought the seed sets I bought them buy the pound rather than a certain number per bag.  I was not going to sit there and count 384.  Also, when I planted them I didn’t measure the space between rows or how many I put in each row.  I know that these would be a first crop, with other plants going in while these were still growing or on the way out.  I didn’t need to be exact in my planting.
In other gardening news I ordered a heat pad for my seeds.  There were a few things that lead to this decision.
  • I noticed that my basement, where I have the grow light, was still cold even though it was warm outside.
  • The cells felt cold and wet after I watered them.  Not exactly the best way to grow plants.
  • One of the bean seeds I am trying to start specifically says that it will not grow in cold, wet conditions.  I even soaked these seeds before planting, per instructions, yet nothing has come up.
  • I was hoping this would stimulate other seeds I’ve planted to come up.
  • I had extra money to use on Amazon from gift cards I had earned in the past few months.  I decided to ‘treat’ myself, after buying several things we needed on there (mainly spices this time).
heat pad for seedlings
I plugged the heating pad in earlier this afternoon so I’ll give you an update next week as to how it is going.
raised bed with coversThis is still the squirrel deterrent system I have in place for this bed.  This isn’t going to work once I plant other plants, but it is working for now.  Seeing as I want to put tomatoes and beans along the back row, I can’t do a cover.  I am leaning more towards a border of chicken wire that extends about two feet above the bed edge.  I think this will be tall enough for me to lean over and reach the plants in the middle.  Any other suggestions?
I also plant to add some peppers to this bed.  Now to sit down and write a plan on paper now that I know exactly what I want to do with this area.  Until this past week I had planned to put the beans and zucchini in a different bed.  However, we are planning to have the house repainted and the other bed is right by the house.  I think I will now have to wait and plant this area a bit later than right now.  I’m thinking that area will have more tomato plants and some herbs put in there, as those can grow in pots for a while until the painting gets started and finished.