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!

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 7-15-13 & It’s Good News!

Approximately two weeks ago a deer jumped our garden fence and had dinner on us. Now, two weeks later, our garden is showing great progress on re-birth and rehabilitation!  Phew!

DEER SERIOUSLY IT WASNT ME

DEER EATING FLOWERS 7-15-13

We could not be happier on this news as we have been doing all we can to promote growth in our garden after the shock & damage it took from the deer munchies.  We have been using Epsom Salt and coffee grounds in the garden which help promote growth, greenery, and provide the proper magnesium the veggies need.  Tomatoes will split when growing if they do not have the right amount of magnesium, so by using the Epsom Salt around the base of the plants, this helps provide what the plants need.

OUR GARDEN 7-15-13

We did have to replant six more pepper plants, but the ones that were severely pruned by the deer are coming back nicely and some have signs of small peppers forming.  We have been enjoying our Leaf Lettuce too, and have shared bags of it with Grandma & Auntie, and as you can see from the photo above, we have replanted another row.

ROMAINE LETTUCE 7-15-13

Our Romaine that was pruned all the way down to a short stub, is now regrowing which makes us happy to see.  We would have already picked some Romaine if the deer would not have decided to have a salad that night in our garden.

JULIET TOMATOES 7-15-13

BIG BOY TOMATOES 7-15-13

Juliet Tomatoes and the Big Boys are coming along fantastic and new blooms are popping every day.  Our one Juliet Tomato plant is now 6′ 5″ in height!  This was actually the last tomato plant that I took out to the garden to plant, and even when it was in the basement under the grow light, it grew so well that it was reaching for the ceiling.  Yeah, I know, I was shocked at how tall this baby got!  The deer did a little pruning on this plant too, but it is now doing so well and coming back strongly with lots of Juliet tomatoes on it.

CUCUMBERS 7-15-13

The cucumbers are finally starting to grow again after being pruned badly by the deer. After two weeks of rehab, they are now starting to climb up the trellis, bloom, and hopefully we will soon see little baby cucs starting to grow.

CABBAGE HEAD 7-15-13

Our cabbage plants are already forming heads and are getting bigger by the day. Just trying to keep the white moths off of them is another adventure.  We have heard that you can also sprinkle flour over the cabbage plants to keep the moths away, and that will be next on our list of things to do.

ZUCCHINI 7-15-13

Did you know that you can pollinate your plants yourself?  Yep, it’s true!  Just take a Q-Tip and carefully swipe it on a male flower, then brush a female flower.  Instant pollination!  (we heard that you can do this with pumpkins too and I might have to do this if we don’t see any little pumpkins soon)

OUR GARDEN SIDE VIEW 7-15-13

All in all, we are pleased with our garden rehab and we look forward to seeing some tomatoes turning red soon.  We are finally out of our rainy block of weather and now immersed in some extremely hot and humid temps which is supposed to last about a week.  How come our weather can’t ever hit a happy medium?  But it’s funny though as last week we were crabbing about all the rain, and now we’re complaining about the heat.  Rain is coming on Saturday and we will definitely need it as our rain barrel will need refilling.

Important Date Coming Up This Week:  Nikita will be turning 3 years old on Thursday, July 18th, so make sure you stop by to send her Birthday Woofs!  🙂   Also, Mommy’s birthday is on Monday, July 22nd!  Lots to celebrate around here!