Wordless Wednesday

Saying goodbye is never easy, and saying goodbye to our garden is right up there with sadness. We had a great year with the garden with absolutely no deer incidences, no battling any critters, (except a handful of those tomato worms, ew) and I finally had to pull out the plants a few weeks ago to get the garden ready for Winter.

We had a second batch of Romaine Lettuce coming up really nicely, but then we got a few nights of frost hit us, but I had covered up the lettuce to protect them. It worked, and the plants were saved, but then the temperatures dropped dramatically, and although I know that lettuce likes cooler temps, these temps were just too cold for these little plants to survive. I did not have the heart to pull them out of the garden, then it happened…it snowed! The snow covered them all up with only a little piece of Romaine leaf popping up out of the snow.

ROMAINE LETTUCE IN THE SNOW

It is as if the Romaine was waving goodbye to us, as it took its last look around outside. See you next year little Romaine, we miss you already.

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Garden Update

JULIET TOMATOES 8-1-14

This is the happiest photograph ever! Look at the variety of colors on the Juliet Tomatoes! This is a sight that we have been waiting for!

PUMPKIN COLLAGE2 8-5-14

This is our one pumpkin that is outside of the garden bed that we get to watch grow. I decided to take photographs of this pumpkin every four days so we can see how much it has grown. In this collage, the first photo is on 7/20, then 7/24, 7/28, 8/1, and on 8/5. It is coming along nicely, don’t you think!

PUMPKIN VINE

Watching our pumpkin vines grow is fun! The only thing that I get upset about is when I see a new little pumpkin on a vine, and it turns yellow before the female flower can get pollinated. Bummer!

BIG BOY 8-1-14

Some of our Big Boy Tomatoes are starting to ripen! What a nice sized tomato!

RED PEPPERS 8-1-14

Our Red Pepper plants are growing some strangely shaped peppers.

PORTULACA PUPPY

I put my Portulaca plant on my little doggie planter and it looks so adorable.

HORN WORM

After finding 10 small Horn Worms in our garden a few weeks ago, we found this HUGE one over the weekend and freaked out! Holy crap! Every day, multiple trips out to the garden to check for Horn Worms is a must, since we know we have an issue. This one we cut the small branch it was on, and immediately placed it into the jar where I threw all the other ones to die. While it was in the jar, I watched it quickly munch down this entire branch in a matter of minutes. Minutes, people! Minutes! That is why it is so important to find and remove them in your garden immediately. Look for any Horn Worm piles of poop on your leaves, and look for little white eggs too, as this is a sign that you have a Horn Worm in your garden! Act upon it immediately!

HORN WORM CLOSEUP

I am so grossed out by this close up photo. If you click on the photo you can see it’s teeth better but I hope you did have anything to eat because you might get sick. Those little orangish rings on its side is how it breaths, and it has nine on each side of its body.

Gardening for us this year has gone to the bugs, and we are doing our best to keep on top of this problem. Every year we deal with “something”, and this year is no different, just a different problem. I refuse to let these issues take down our garden and all the hard work we have put into it.

 

Garden Update – Highs and Lows

I have always said that “Gardening is an adventure”. You just never know what is going to happen. You experience highs and lows on a daily basis, and always hope for the best. Our recent garden highs are the nice sized zucchini’s that we have been picking. Our largest zucchini was 3 lbs. 9 oz.

3 POUND ZUCCHINI 7-20-14Here I am, in all my glory, holding our nice sized zucchini. We call them “clubs”. I could definitely leave one on the counter in case someone broke into the house and they would be beaten with a zucchini. Now, that would make an interesting police report, eh?

PUMPKIN 7-20-14

Here’s one of our pumpkins that I pollinated a while back.

PUMPKIN

Four days later, look at how much it has grown!  I placed a small piece of wood underneath the pumpkin to keep it from rotting while sitting on the grass.  This pumpkin is on one of the long runners that is now running around the outside of the garden, so we can watch this one grow every day. We know that we have other pumpkins back along the fence, but we can’t see them any longer.

JULIET TOMATOES RIPENING 7-24-14

Another huge high for the week is the sight of our Juliet Tomatoes starting to ripen! This is so exciting and I’ve got my Italian Dressing ready!

JULIET TOMATO 7-24-14

Don’t you just love how beautiful the Juliets are looking?

ROMAINE

Our Romaine Lettuce has been definitely enjoyed by us this year. My Sweetie can’t get enough of it! He used to love leaf lettuce, but now he is hooked on the Romaine, and I knew he would. Next year for sure, we will be planting a lot more Romaine. Our first batch of plants (above) are coming to an end, but we have back-up plants already growing so we can enjoy more Romaine.

ROMAINE REJUVINATING

And, if you did not already know this, you can regrow your Romaine Lettuce from the established stalk. Once you have removed all the leaves, just cut the stock down to have a few inches of it still coming out from the dirt. New Romaine Lettuce will start to rejuvenate on that stalk!  As you can see from the photo above, we have new leaves starting on this stalk.

GARDEN PORN

It appears that we also have some “Garden Porn” going on too!  The “X” reminds me of legs…well, you know the rest! LOL

CABBAGE 7-24-14

Our cabbage is forming some nice sized heads already too!

BIG BOY TOMATO 7-24-14

The Big Boy Tomatoes are getting bigger by the day!

SUNFLOWER 7-24-14

Here’s one of my sunflowers currently growing under the kitchen window so I get to see it every day.

HORN WORM 7-24-14

And now for the lows of the week… Yesterday, we found some baby Horn Worms on our tomato plants. THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING!  A Horn Worm can destroy your garden and take down a tomato plant in no time flat. I am so thankful that I noticed them in the garden.

The signs you have a Horn Worm in your garden:

  • You find chewed leaves and branches on your tomato plants
  • You find tiny white eggs on a leaf
  • You notice little black droppings on a leaf (Horn Worm doo doo)

What you need to do to immediately:

  • Find the Horn Worms on your tomato plants immediately
  • Pull them off the branches or leafs (I know, it’s gross, but it needs to be done to save your garden)
  • Look at each and every branch on your tomato plants for them
  • Look for the areas where there are signs of chewed leaves, as you will find them somewhere on that plant
  • Look for their “doo doo” droppings, to see where they have been and check that plant out thoroughly
  • And lastly, dust all of your tomato plants with Sevin-5 Dust as it repels the Horn Worms.  We are not a huge fan of using things like this in the garden, but would rather use something to get rid of them other than having all of our tomato plants eaten!

Here is a link to a post I did two years ago when our neighbor first showed us a huge Horn Worm he found in his garden. We are glad that the Horn Worms we found are not the size of the one he found, but nonetheless, we are very concerned that we have the small ones in the garden.

As you can see, gardening is an adventure and you just never know what you are going to run across from one day to another. You take the highs and lows, the good and the bad, and roll with it. But the most important part of gardening, is acting immediately upon what you see, as your actions can save your garden or kill it.

Our Fascination with Pumpkins

Where does our love for pumpkins come from?

  • Is it from that little white seed that you saved from last year’s pumpkins that you plant in the ground and watch it grow?
  • Is it from the idea of what you do with that pumpkin once it has grown? Like carving them into masterpieces!
  • Is it your love for pumpkin pie? (get the Cool Whip ready!)
  • Is it your love for drying the seeds & eating them?
  • Is it from your love for the Fall Season?

No matter what your own love affair is with pumpkins, it is all valid. We try to grow a crop of pumpkins every year with high hopes that we can produce at least two pumpkins that we can carve for Halloween. At least that is our goal every year.

Last year we failed tremendously with our pumpkin crop. We failed only because we dumped too much coffee grounds around our pumpkins and they died off. Bummer. We won’t be making that same mistake this year, as we learn from all of our gardening experiences.

We are about six weeks into growing our pumpkins in our fenced in garden area, and every day we head out back to see how they are doing. We are shocked every day. I told you that pumpkins do a lot of their growing at night, so finding lots of new growth in the morning is not a shock at all.

The bees are buzzing around the pumpkin flowers, doing their job pollinating them perfectly, and when they are slacking in their job, I personally pollinate the pumpkins myself with a Q-Tip.

Which brings up a thought. Do you know the difference between a female and a male pumpkin flower?  If you don’t know, I’ll tell you…just ask me!

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FEMALE AND MALE PUMPKIN FLOWER

I put together a few photographs of our pumpkins progress, so you can see how well they are growing. We are so pleased!

JUNE 1 2014A

We added more soil to this bed this year, and lots of Miracle Gro Soil.

JUNE 5 2014A

I started 18 pumpkins indoors when I had the grow lights still out.

JUNE 8 2014A

The pumpkins checking out their new home.

JUNE 13 2014A

In this photo, I used Fiji water bottles to cover up newly planted cantaloupes, and the water bottles behind the row of pumpkins… are MORE pumpkins.

JUNE 16 2014A

When the pumpkin plant started to grow under the water bottles and got big enough, I removed the bottle. The lids are off all the bottles so the plants got air.

JUNE 18 2014A

Pumpkins are establishing nicely here.

JUNE 28 2014A

Then all of a sudden…BOOM! It’s a pumpkin explosion!

JULY 1 2014A

I take it that the pumpkins like this spot this year!

JULY 3 2014A

Every day we see more new growth!

JULY 8 2014A

I think we need more space.

JULY 13 2014A

The pumpkin vines are extending everywhere and even up the back of the fence too!

JULY 16 2014A

And, last but not least, we have today’s view of our pumpkin patch. We have one nice sized pumpkin growing up the back fence, so at least we know we have one keeper. The pumpkin vines are creeping out of the bed to the left and to the right, so finding the pumpkins to pollinate will be easier. Pretty soon, we will be tip-toeing through pumpkin vines while trying to pick tomatoes in our garden! (I can so see that happening!)

If you need some pumpkin inspiration, check out my Pinterest Halloween Pumpkins Board!

So what do you think of our awesome pumpkin patch? Do you know the difference between a female and a male pumpkin flower?

We’ve Got a Green Thumb

One of the things that I find fascinating about gardening, is what a difference a day makes. I get surprised every day when I head into the garden to check on the status of the plants. One day, you see nothing happening, and the next day, you see new growth.

The two photographs below were taken by our neighbor “Farmer Steve” who climbed up on our garage to clean out our gutters for us, and he snapped a few rooftop photographs.

GARDEN VIEW1 6-29-14

It’s amazing how everything is filling in so nicely, and how nice and green the plants are. I guess we are doing everything right this year!

GARDEN VIEW2 6-29-14

As you can see from this photograph, the leaf lettuce and the Romaine Lettuce will be ready for picking any day now.

ZUCCHINI 7-1-14

Check out our favorite zucchini! We noticed this zucchini about a week ago when it was a little nub, and when we saw the flower on top of it open up, I took a Q-Tip and pollinated it myself. Yep, that is correct, I worked some magic in the garden, if you can call it that, but I took a Q-Tip and lightly rubbed it inside a male flower (a male flower does not have a little zucchini underneath it, so that is how you know which flower is a male or female), and then rubbed the pollen from the male flower inside the female flower that sat on top of the zucchini that started to glow. As you can see, it worked, as you can see from the nice sized zucchini we have growing!

By the way, in case you are wondering, the use of the tomato cages around our zucchini is working! Every day, I direct new branches up into the tomato cage, and it is helping contain the huge leaves in our garden bed. I am glad I found this idea on Pinterest, as it does work!

BIG BOY TOMATOES 7-1-14

Our Big Boy Tomato plants have all started to bloom and this is one of the little tomatoes. As I have mentioned before, we use Epsom Salt in our garden for only our tomato and pepper plants, but we have not yet started using it. We wanted the plants to get established first in the garden, but we will be starting the Epsom Salt this week. Epsom Salt is used for tomato and pepper plants to help replenish the lack of Magnesium these plants lack. We lightly sprinkle Epsom Salt around these plants only once a week to give them the Magnesium they lack and it helps them grow bigger, and it also helps stop the tomatoes from splitting and getting bottom rot.

CUCUMBER 7-1-14

Our cucumbers are on crack! Well, that is what we’re saying, but I think they are pretty much drug-free. LOL  We are so proud of how well they are doing this season and we can’t wait to enjoy them in some nice salads.

FLAT DUTCH CABBAGE 7-1-14

I had to put netting over the cabbage this week, as I kept seeing those little white moths all around the garden. The netting will prevent the white moths from laying eggs on the cabbage plants and ruining the cabbage heads.

JULIET TOMATOES 7-1-14

I can’t tell you how happy I am to see our Juliet Tomatoes growing! Last year we had planted six Juliet plants and picked over 1,220 tomatoes. This year, we have nine Juliet tomato plants, and I can’t wait to see how many Juliet tomatoes we pick this year! It will amaze me, I am sure! (and yes, I do count all of the veggies we pick from our garden, just to see how well they produced)

MORE ZUCCHINI 7-1-14

This is another small zucchini that I personally pollinated in the garden. And, there are others too that are getting bigger!

POLLINATION 7-1-14

I’m scared of bees, but took my chances when I got close to this guy doing his job in the garden. Way to go little bee, keep on pollinating!

PUMPKINS 7-1-14

We all know that pumpkins do a lot of their growing at night, which is something that we have noticed over the years. One day, you check out your pumpkin patch, and the next day, you can find the runners have grown a few inches! I lost count on how many pumpkin plants we have in this area, but we’re glad to see how nice they are coming along. We have high hopes that we can get a few pumpkins this year so we can carve for Halloween. We have more than seven little pumpkins growing right now, and when I notice their flower open up, I will head out and pollinate them just like I did with the zucchini.

What a difference one day makes when you are a gardener. You wake up and find out that you have a green thumb after all!

Nip That Sucker! Garden Update

There’s no doubt about it that when you start a garden, you put a lot of time and hard work into it. You water it every day (thanks to our full rain barrels from all the rain we’ve been getting), you weed it (no thanks to all the cotton that’s been flying around here for weeks), you chase critters out of it, and you do maintenance on your garden plants.

OUR GARDEN 6-23-14

When you grow tomato plants, you’ve gotta nip those suckers! Nipping suckers off of your tomato plants is a must when you grow tomato plants. It stops the plants from pouring all of its energy into growing that sucker, and puts it back into growing a nice big and healthy plant. Suckers are always found in the corners of branches. Don’t ever nip a branch, just the sucker that starting to emerge. What’s amazing, is that I head out to the garden every morning with the dogs and do a walk around to make sure nothing was damaged by the critters over night, and I usually nip all the tomato plants as I walk around. Then, when I head back out to the garden later in the day, there are more suckers to nip! Geez, these suckers can really grow fast!

NIP THOSE SUCKERS

Our garden was planted on June 1st, and it has grown with leaps and bounds since then.

STRAWBERRIES 6-23-14

Our strawberry plants have abundantly produced this season and have filled up this entire flower bed. Look at all those red strawberries waiting to be picked! Not a day goes by, that I am not out in the garden picking a bucket of fresh strawberries, and yes, I do share them with others!

ROMAINE 6-23-14

I cannot tell you how happy I am on how beautiful the Romaine Lettuce is coming in! Last year, we did not get the chance to have any since the deer jumped the fence and ate them all down. This year, we hope to be dining on lots of delicious salads!

PUMPKINS 6-23-14

Our pumpkins are coming along nicely too! those Figi water bottles were used to cover up the newly planted Red Warty Pumpkin seeds so the chipmunks would not eat the seed. Once the plant was established, I removed the water bottles. As you can see, they have already started to bloom, and I hope to see some little pumpkins growing soon!

LEAF LETTUCE 6-23-14

Our leaf lettuce had a slow start and some sections died out (not sure as to why), but it finally got a nice growth spurt.

GARDEN 6-23-14

Here you can see our garden rows. Leaf lettuce, onions, red peppers, cabbage and tomato plants.

FLAT DUTCH CABBAGE 6-23-14

Watching the cabbage grow always amazes me. A cabbage seed is so freaking tiny that I had to use tweezers just to pick up a seed and plant it. All of our plants in our garden were started indoors under a grow light. When we planted our cabbage plants near the first of June, the plants were a little wobbly, but look at them now! Yowza! (Grandma is going to be really happy this year, as we are growing them for her) We will be covering up the cabbage plants soon, to protect them from those nasty white cabbage moths that do lots of damage.

CUCUMBERS 6-23-14

I don’t even remember how many cucumber plants we started indoors, but we also planted a few seeds in this are too, just to make sure we had enough plants for the season. They are loving their new trellis and are growing up it nicely!

TOMATO PLANTS 6-23-14

Now these babies are coming along nicely! Our Juliet Tomato and Big Boy Tomato plants have definitely grown with leaps and bounds since we planted them. Last year we only planted six Juliet and six Big Boy plants, but this year we have about nine each. WOW, now that’s a lot of tomato plants! We share all of our harvest with friends & family since there is no way possible that we could possibly eat all of the tomatoes that are produced. (not to worry, our friends & family LOVE getting fresh tomatoes from us)

TOMATO BLOOMS 6-23-14

This photograph makes me really happy, as this is the sign that we will be seeing tomatoes really soon!

CEMENT GROW

There’s nothing like giving your garden a little growing inspiration, eh? I made these cement grow letters from my silicone alphabet molds. This little sign sits on the edge of our raised garden bed in front of the peas. Since our peas are coming along nicely, we decided to plant some more. I planted 14 more pea plants right in the garden and they are starting to emerge from the soil this week. Yeah for Peas!

What are you growing in your garden?

 

We Finally Kicked the Kids Out of the House

It’s true, we finally kicked the kids out of the house over the weekend. I’m talking about the 80+ garden plants we had growing in the basement under the grow lights. It was time that they headed out to their new home in the garden.

Along with getting the garden ready, I wanted to change up our cucumber trellis this year, and decided to use chicken wire and some metal garden stakes to build a nice sturdy trellis for the cucs. We are planting two rows of cucumbers again this year, and they can now grow up the chicken wire.

BUILDING CUCUMBER TRELLIS

HARDENING OFF THE PLANTS 5-31-14

I spent the entire week last week hand carrying up each and every plant to spend some time out in the sun to harden them off. One by one they were carried upstairs and sat in the sun for the first time for only a few minutes. When you start to harden off your plants, here is what you have to do: Day One, the plants head outdoors for about 5-10 minutes. You watch them closely and when they look like the leaves are starting to droop, you take them back inside. Day Two, you hand carry the plants back outside for a little more time in the sun, still watching their leaves as they react to the sunlight. Day Three, again they head outdoors for a little longer time in the sun. Day Four, the same, as the time increases and they get used to the heat of the sun & wind. Day Five, the plants should be used to the sun, heat and wind and are ready to finally plant in the garden.

After a grueling week of doing nothing but carrying in and out all of our plants, they are now ready for their new home for the season. We built a second raised garden to accommodate all of our extra plants. Like I have mentioned before, we learn from our experiences and we love sharing them with you. What we noticed last year, is that when our tomato plants grew, they blocked a lot of the sunlight from our row of peppers, so we decided that this year we needed to build a second raised garden to plant them in. Problem solved.

HOME DEPOT CUTTING OUR WOOD

Building a raised garden bed is not hard at all. We headed off to Home Depot and purchased the wood and the hardware to put the bed together. A Home Depot associate cut the wood to our dimensions, otherwise we would have never been able to bring home the wood in our car. We are thankful that they can do this because it sure made our life easier. When we got home, we went to work and constructed our new 6′ x 5′ raised garden. (Our first raised garden is 6′ x 16′)

BUILDING 2ND RAISED GARDEN1

The next step is to install the weed barrier inside the new raised garden bed. I found it at KMart at a great price too. We just stapled it to the inside of the new raised garden to prevent the weeds or grass from popping through the garden. Once this was completed, we waited for our delivery of garden soil from a local nursery. We filled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow with the garden soil and filled up the new garden bed.

ADDING WEED BARRIER TO GARDEN 5-31-14

ADDING SOIL TO RAISED GARDEN 5-31-14

SOIL DELIVERY 5-31-14

The garden is now ready for some plants!  In our first raised garden, my Sweetie had already planted two rows of leaf lettuce and after only two days, we saw the lettuce already popping up through the soil! WOW! We put a nice layer of Miracle Gro Garden Soil on top of the existing soil, as we have heard it helps the plants grow nice and big.

PLANTING LEAF LETTUCE

On the last day of hardening off our plants, I decided to just leave them in the garage overnight, so I did not have to carry them all back downstairs, since they were heading to the garden the next day. We carried all the plants into the garden area and started placing them in the garden where we wanted them, making sure they were evenly spaced.

SPACING THE PLANTS IN GARDEN 5-31-14

The first plant that I planted was a pea plant. I love these little plants as they are so adorable. I got some great advice on how to grow peas, and placed a nice green 3′ garden stake next to each pea plant so they can grow up the stake. We even have a few pea’s blooming now too!

PLANTING PEAS 5-31-14

We had a lot of work ahead of us as each and every plant made it into the garden. Lots of wine was consumed during this process too!

PLANTING CUCUMBERS 5-31-14

Here’s my Sweetie planting the cucumbers!  Also, as you can see in this photo, we are also adding more soil to our back bed as this is where we will be planting all of our Connecticut Field Pumpkins, some Red Warty Pumpkins, Cantaloupes and a few more tomato plants.

I also painted a second mailbox and that is the first thing you see when you enter our garden area, and I planted a Portulaca in the mailbox that has started to bloom.

PORTULACA IN MAILBOX 6-1-14

PORTULACA

We are so happy to finally have our plants out in the garden, and I am happy to have the laundry room back to normal without having to walk around tables of plants too.

OUR PLANTS NEW HOME 6-1-14

Welcome to your new home plants! This is where you are going to live for the next few months and feed our family & friends! We will tend to you on a daily basis, and we’ll keep you well watered in the hot days too. We can’t wait to see our total of fresh veggies we pick from our garden this year! Thank you Sweetie for purchasing all the seeds & soil for our garden, as we could not have done this without you.

OUR TWO RAISED GARDENS 6-1-14

PLAYING IN THE DIRT 6-1-14

I love playing in the dirt! If you don’t get dirty working in the garden, then you are doing something wrong. Don’t worry, it washes off. Stay tuned for all of our upcoming garden tips & tricks and what we learn from our garden season this year.

Garden Update: May 15, 2014

I love heading downstairs to check on our garden plants, because you just never know what to expect. I am a firm believer that the plants grow over night and things happen while we are sleeping. Perhaps I should video tape them at night, just to see what’s going on!

PLANTS2 5-15-14

Our new table is getting crowded, and that is good news! That means that soon, they will be heading outdoors into their new home, in the garden. We are still watching the weather reports, and for now, they are staying safe indoors. We need to make sure that we pass our last frost date and the plants are safe, otherwise, we will have to jump through hoops to cover each one up at night to protect them from frost damage.

RED PEPPERS 5-15-14

We have 18 red pepper plants growing, and they are at various heights, because we love and use red peppers in almost everything we cook.

PEAS 5-15-14

This is our first year growing peas, so we are anxiously awaiting to see how they do once they head into the garden. I got great advice from my blog buddy Kathy that the peas just need small little stakes behind each one so they can crawl up. We can’t wait to see little pea pods growing one day!  I think that they are the cutest little plant I have ever grown!

FLOWERING CUCS 5-15-14

I found one of our cucumbers flowering in the basement already. That has never happened yet in all the years we have been gardening, and at least that tells me it is soon time for them to head out into the garden.

FLAT DUTCH CABBAGE 5-15-14

Growing cabbage is easy, but they are slow growers indoors, at least that is my experience in growing them, but once they get into the garden, they get their growth spurt.

CONNECTICUT FIELD PUMPKINS 5-15-14

We are preparing a flower bed for our pumpkins this year, and we decided to start quite a few pumpkin plants indoors so those darn chipmunks would not dig up the pumpkin seeds. Last year, those chippies dug up every seed and ate them, and we had to replant.

If anyone has any advice for our soil for the pumpkins to get them to grow big and produce pumpkins, please share your soil advice with us! The last pumpkin growing seasons we have had bad luck. We tried the coffee ground idea last year and we think we might have put too much grounds into the soil and it killed off our pumpkin harvest.

ZUCCHINI 5-15-14

We are attempting to grow zucchini again this year. Every time we try to grow zucchini, either the chippies eat them, or they grow to a certain size, then die off. We are hoping for a good season this year for these guys!

BEANS 5-15-14

I know, you would not have believed me if I had not taken this photo, but yes, we are growing beans in the basement!  A few of our bean plants have small beans growing on them!  This is one of the largest beans we have growing under our nice grow lights!  Pretty neat, eh!

TOMATO PLANTS 5-15-14

Our Juliet Tomato plants are at the perfect size right now, and I bet they can’t wait to be planted out in the garden soon. Last year, we started our plants way too early and they were so tall that they were hard to handle while being transplanted, this year, we did not want to make that same mistake. We have nine Juliet Tomato plants that are enjoying their new larger pots to grow in.

STRAWBERRY PATCH 5-15-14

This is our strawberry patch that has come back nicely since recovering from the winter. If you have ever grown strawberries, you know how they can “take over” an area quite quickly. We started off with approximately 20 strawberry plants about where the arrow is in the above photo, and now, they are almost all the way down to the end of this flower bed. They have finally started to flower this week, and they are right on time, as these are June Bearing Strawberry plants.

STRAWBERRY BLOOM 5-15-14

This is always a good sign that strawberry season is upon us!

STRAWBERRY BLOOMS IN THE RAIN 5-15-14

Soon, we will have strawberries!

BACKYARD3

And now for the best part – – our backyard! Remember one of my last posts on how we had lots of work to do to fix all the winter pee spots from the dogs? Well, they have all been fixed and the backyard is in tip top shape! Not to mention, the grass is so thick and fluffy now from all the rain we have been having.

BACKYARD2

My flower bed is starting to fill in nicely and our Burning Bush is finally nice and green. It is hard to see in this photo, but I also purchased a few sections of this beautiful metal garden fencing to try to keep the deer out and from eating the flowers. I still need to get one more section to complete it.

BACKYARD1

We are so pleased on how good the backyard has filled in as well as it has as we are in love with the Quick Seed we are using.

NEW PATIO CHAIRS

My Sweetie arrived home from work earlier this week and was surprised by our new patio chairs & pads. I finally had to toss my old wicker table & chairs a few weeks ago, and we needed something to sit on in the backyard. I love how the new cushions are reversible to a solid red color too!  That is also my new planter that I got on sale at KMart and I think I might plant some nice red flowers in it with something else that perhaps hangs over the side. Any suggestions on what I should plant?

Garden Update: What We’re Growing

One never knows what to expect when they start a gardening season. We think about the previous year, the mistakes we encountered and the successes we made. We relive the prior year over and over again, with hopes that this season will be better than last. We sure had our fill of critter encounters last year to last us for awhile, so as we near our new gardening season, we can only hope for the best, and do lots of praying!

All day long, I check on the plants downstairs under the grow lights. I make sure that I rotate them to ensure even light distribution and I keep them properly watered. I think the plants like all the attention!

So here is what we are planting this season:

Juliet Tomatoes: If you followed along with our garden last year, you will know how well our Juliets produced. We picked over 1,200 tomatoes and this was from only six plants! (yes, I actually counted each and every one, just so I could see how many we produced) Our best tip for growing tomatoes was that we used a small amount of Epsom Salt sprinkled once a week around each tomato plant. Tomatoes can lack in magnesium, so the Epsom Salt provides them the magnesium that they require to grow big and healthy, not to mention, it stops the tomatoes from “splitting” and it stops the “bottom rot” you find on some tomatoes.

PLANTS 5-7-14

Big Boy Tomatoes: Although I am a huge fan of the Juliet Tomato, we also grow six Big Boy Tomato plants. I think we produced over 300 Big Boy Tomatoes last year with only six plants, so we can’t wait to see what we produce this year! Once again, these plants lack in magnesium so we use Epsom Salt on them too.

Flat Dutch Cabbage: We grow all the cabbage plants for Grandma! One thing that we will be doing differently this year is how we protect our cabbage heads. I read on Pinterest on how you can lay netting on top of your cabbage row to protect them from those nasty white moths, or you can wrap each head individually with a nylon. The object here is to keep the white moths off the cabbage and prevent them from laying their eggs.

FLAT DUTCH CABBAGE 5-7-14

Red Peppers: We eat red peppers almost every night, so it seems a perfect fit that we have eighteen plants heading into the garden this year. Pepper plants also lack magnesium, so we use Epsom Salt on them too and it provides the much needed nutrients to grow healthy plants and produce nice sized peppers. No bottom rot on any of our peppers!

RED PEPPERS 5-7-14

Green Peppers: We grew green peppers last year too, but this year, I am going to make lots of stuffed peppers with these guys! We also use both the red and green peppers when we make kabobs on the grill!

Zucchini: Last year was a dud for our zucchini. We directly sowed the seeds in the ground last year at the end of our strawberry bed and we had not one of them produce anything. Every time we planted a seed, the chipmunks dug them up. We planted more, and the same thing happened. So this time, I have started the zucchini plants indoors in the hopes that they have a chance to make it this year. Heck, all I want is to make zucchini bread!

ZUCCHINI 5-7-14

Leaf Lettuce: If you follow along with our garden updates from prior years, you know that we plant two uniform rows of leaf lettuce that produce more than enough lettuce for our family. And, when you cut the lettuce, it regrows more! Looking forward to many healthy salads this year!

Romaine Lettuce: Last year we “would” have had some nice Romaine Lettuce, but when that one deer got into our garden and ate it down to a nub, we had no chance at it ever regrowing. This year we hope that we have a better chance at actually tasting this delicious lettuce.

Straight Eight Cucumbers: Oh boy, we are excited again to be growing cucumbers because I enjoy them every day for lunch with tomatoes & Italian dressing! Yum! I am working on creating a new trellis for the cucs to grow up this year.

CUCUMBERS 5-7-14

Peas: Now, this is one thing that we have never grown before, so if any of you have any suggestions on how to grow peas, let me know! I surprised my Sweetie by purchasing a pack of Peas this year and I have them growing under our grow lights right now. The pea plants are truly a unique looking plant, as the leaves don’t look like any of our other plants, and are so neat to watch grow! I believe that peas need a trellis of some sort to grow up, but I am not sure, so if you have any advice on this, be sure you pass it along!

PEAS 5-7-14

PEAS2 5-7-14

Connecticut Field Pumpkins: So far, I have started eighteen pumpkins downstairs under the grow light, and half of them have already popped through the soil, as we are getting them ready to head out to the back flower bed. Last year, we had the same problem with chipmunks as they dug up and ate all of our seeds when we directly sowed pumpkin seeds in the ground, so this is why we are starting the plants indoors this year. We learn from our mistakes, as every gardener knows.

CONNECTICUT FIELD PUMPKINS

Sunflowers: Ah, sunflowers! I saved every seed from the sunflowers that our Auntie Rene gave us last year and I currently have eleven sunflowers growing that I started from the seeds I saved. I can’t wait to find some awesome places to plant them around the yard this year!

SUNFLOWERS 5-7-14

So there you have it, a complete list of what we will be growing this year! On top of this, we are also planning on building a second raised garden to accommodate a lot of our new plants. The new raised garden bed will be 6′ x 5′. Here’s the difference between a “garden” and a “raised garden” and why we chose to use a raised garden bed. A regular garden is when you till up your lawn and plant directly into the ground. A raised garden bed is when you build a structure to hold your soil, add blackout weed netting on the bottom to keep the weeds out, then fill it with soil. A raised garden beds soil has better drainage, and the soil is warmer because it is not in the ground, it is above the ground. Just in case you did not know the difference in these two, now you know!

Garden Update: April 28th

Much has happened since my last garden update. We needed to purchase a new plant table as our old table just was not long enough to hold all of our little plants. We now have a nice six foot long table that has enough room to spread out our plants across the table & give them room.

NEW BALLASTS IN GROW LIGHT

Our neighbor, Shawn, whom we are so thankful for, helped us out in a big way. Our one four-bulb grow light had gone on the fritz and we were down to only one grow light, BIG problem!  Shawn took a look at our light and said that the ballasts in the grow light needed to be replaced. We know nothing about anything electrical, so he replaced the two ballasts in our light and it works so nice now! Thank you so much Shawn for helping us out, as our plants are so happy now!

THE OLD BALLAST

BEFORE CLEANING UP PLANT TABLE

AFTER NEW 6 FOOT TABLE

Since we got our nice new long table, I had a lot of work ahead of me because I now had to transfer all of our plants (about 85 plants) from one table to the new one. I also had to rearrange the hooks in the ceiling to hang the grow lights from so the entire table of plants was well lit. I just used those nice little curved hooks that screwed right into the beams in the ceiling and attached metal chains to hang the grow lights on.

UNFOLDING THE NEW TABLE

What a difference in having enough room to move your plants around!

PLANTS2 4-27-14

We have enough room to add more plants, if needed.

PLANTS3 4-27-14

The table is full of vibrant growing happy plants!

4-27-14 Plants

The gangs all here and getting along nicely!

JULIET TOMATOES 4-27-14

Our plants are coming along nicely and we won’t be planting them in the garden until the end of May because we have to wait for any last frosts that may occur. I might have to start a few additional seeds just to make sure that we have enough plants for the garden.

BUSH LAKE BEANS 4-27-14

Our Bush Lake Beans plants are so beautiful, and our Juliet Tomato and Big Boy Tomato plants are getting bigger by the day. Our red peppers, green peppers, Flat Dutch Cabbage, cucumbers, and cantaloupe plants are coming along nicely too.  When it gets to the time in May when we take our plants out in the garden, we will also be planting leaf lettuce and Romaine lettuce too.  We would have had Romaine lettuce last year, but when we had a deer jump our fence, he ate all the Romaine and it never came back.

CUCUMBER 4-27-14

Like I said, we have been super busy over here getting the garden area in shape for this years growing season, and I finally got the stepping stone walkway in and completed. Our new little walkway looks so wonderful and it is a beautiful addition to our garden area. Our grass around our garden was never in that good shape, so I decided that I was going to change that this year. I worked all day yesterday laying a nice thin layer of topsoil all over the grassy area and I will spread grass seed all over the topsoil. The light topsoil topcoat will help the new grass seed germinate better and will make the grassy area thicker once it is established.

RED PEPPERS 4-27-14

I also worked on cleaning up our strawberry patch picking out all of the leaves and straw from the winter, and I did some research on how to maintain strawberries. What I learned is that when a strawberry creates a runner and establishes a new plant, that you should cut the runner between the plants as it sucks life out of the plants. It makes a lot of sense and I am glad that I read this information, as I have a lot of runners to clip! Just don’t clip any green runners, wait until they have browned a bit before clipping!

SUNFLOWER SEEDS

Last year I saved every seed from the sunflowers that our Auntie Rene gave us and I wanted to see if the seeds would germinate, so I planted two seeds and waited. In just four days, I have two sunflowers coming up! I planted them in a little container and placed them under our grow lights and I was shocked on how quick the seeds germinated! I can’t wait to plant them out in the garden again as they were so beautiful to watch grow!

SUNFLOWERS

So, what did you do over the weekend? What are you growing?