Garden Update: 6-24-13

OUR GARDEN 6-24-13

I know you are all on pins and needles anxiously awaiting our garden update, so sit back and take in the view from our garden!  It’s been 10 days since we have had any rain, and we need it badly.  Our rain barrel is close to being empty and desperately needs to be filled back up again.  We also have a huge garbage can placed next to our rain barrel to fill that up, once the rain barrel is completely full.  I just switch the gutter extension hose from the barrel to the can…presto, instant rain container that I just dunk my watering can in!  I think we are supposed to get some rain later today, and I am keeping my fingers crossed on that!  Our grass is even starting to dry out from all of these hot humid temps.  We are just doing our best to use only rain water that we collect for watering the garden to cut down on our water bill, and this has definitely helped tremendously!  You can not imagine the amount of water you use when gardening!

Other than our constant battle on a daily basis chasing off the Chipmunk we named “Chip” from our garden, we have not experienced any issues yet and everything is coming along nicely.  Nikita has been very helpful in chasing away “Chip” and the birdies that sneak under the strawberry netting.  We have seen a few white garden moths around and they usually like cabbage, so I did some reading on Pinterest and a lot of people are stating that we can minimize and/or rid these moths with just plain flour, by sprinkling it on top of the cabbage.

NIKITA SNEAKING UP ON A CHIPPIE IN THE GARDEN

We had some nice garden soil left over from the garden, so we decided to add the rest of it (and get it off the driveway as I am tired of looking at the blue tarp already) to our backyard flower bed behind our garden.  This spot is now the home of all of our pumpkin plants.  I forgot to count how many pumpkins we have planted back there (and I will be planting about 8-10 more this week) which range from Connecticut Field Pumpkins, Jack Be Little Pumpkins, and the famous Red Warty Thing Pumpkins.  Since this flower bed looked 100% better, just by adding the nice dark garden soil around the pumpkins, I decided that I would finish the garden bricks around this bed.  Man oh man, this totally completed the garden area with beautiful results!  I could not wait for a certain someone to come home from work to see what I did, and when he did, he was WOW’d!

PUMPKIN BEDS

RED WARTY THING PUMPKINS

Our Romaine Lettuce has finally had a growth spurt.

ROMAINE LETTUCE 6-24-13

The cucumbers are coming along nicely.

CUCUMBERS 6-24-13

The zucchini has its moments, and some days the leaves turn a little yellow, but that is from all the rain we had been getting, but they are green again.  And today, I looked really close and I think I can see a really tiny zucchini forming!  Yeah – zucchini bread is on my mind!

ZUCCHINI 6-24-13

We finally have sight of small Big Boy Tomatoes this week!  Yeah!  As you can see, you can tell the difference from a Big Boy to a Juliet from the shape.  Big Boys are round, and Juliets are longer in shape.  The Juliets usually sprout in groups of 8-10, so you can just imagine how many we are going to harvest this year!  Nice!

BIG BOY TOMATO

JULIET TOMATO BUNCH 6-24-13

This Juliet Tomato plant is now over 6 feet tall!

6 FOOT JULIET TOMATO

Our Flat Dutch Cabbage is growing by leaps and bounds.

FLAT DUTCH CABBAGE 6-24-13

Both Red & Green Peppers are multiplying daily.

RED PEPPER 6-24-13

And our Black Seeded Simpson Leaf Lettuce will be picked this week!  Parts of our two rows of leaf lettuce has gotten so big that it is now ready to eat!  Gotta stock up on lots of salad dressing now!  Look at that row of lettuce, nice eh?!

LETTUCE 6-24-13

So there you have it, our garden update for the week!  Everything is coming along nicely and we can’t be more pleased with its progress!

BEE BALM

WILD FLOWER

The flower bed is also popping with colors, from our Russian Sage, yellow wild flowers, Bee Balm, Cat Nip, and our hot pink Phlox just bloomed today.  Our Coreopsis will probably start to bloom in July, so just a little more time to wait on them!  We snuck about 8 pumpkin seeds in this flower bed too, and although we knew better to not plant them, we did, and we were not surprised that when the deer roamed in the other night, they nipped down about half of them.  We knew it was coming, we just kept our fingers crossed that they would not find them, they did.  Live and learn.

Summer would not be the same if we did not have a garden.  This is something that we truly love!

Our Garden Adventure Begins

Click on photo to enlarge to read our garden markers

Click on photo to enlarge to read our garden markers

The time has finally arrived.  The tedious task of tending to seedlings in the basement is over.  Keeping a watchful eye on them for months in the basement & babying them has ended.  It’s do or die time.

FLAT DUTCH CABBAGE 5-19-13

We started hardening off our plants last week, and yesterday we started bringing out all of our 40+ plants from the basement, away from the gentle warmth of the grow lights and safety in the basement, and brought them out to the cruel world outside.  We planted two of our Juliet Tomato plants, one Big Boy Tomato plant, one Red Pepper and one cabbage plant yesterday in the garden just to see how they would survive the night in the “real world”.  They all made it!

JULIET TOMATO PLANTS 5-19-13

Now, today, I will be planting the rest of our plants out into the garden and hope for the best!  We hope that we get a nice rain here soon, as I want to start using the rain water in the rain barrel to water the plants, as rain water is so much better for the garden.

LEAF LETTUCE 5-19-13

We are so pleased to see that our leaf lettuce is already starting to pop up in two nice straight rows.  We already have about 4 Romaine Lettuce sprouts popping up, one Cucumber has popped, and one Zucchini made its appearance this morning!  Man, we are so pleased to see this!  Yahooooo is what we actually said!

JULIET TOMATO BLOOMS 5-19-13

Now, this is the fun and exhilarating part of gardening.  Watching your plants grow! Nothing is more satisfying than knowing you can plant a little seed and pick veggies from it!

FIRST CUCUMBER EMERGED

I hope you also noticed the little red brick plant markers all around the garden too!  What?  You didn’t notice them?  I picked up a handful of little brick slices when our city was laying bricks in town and I knew that one day I would find a “purpose” for them.  I did at that!  I painted with nail polish plant markers!  Another way to re-purpose nail polish!  LOL

ROMAINE PLANT MARKER

Our garden adventure begins.

 

Yikes, There’s a Vegetable Garden in the Basement!

4-20-13 GETTING READY FOR GARDENING

As the days pass us by, it just gets one day closer to gardening season.  Boy oh boy, we can’t wait to garden again!  Last year was our first time ever gardening, and like I have said before, we have learned a lot along the way.  We had many plants kick the bucket on us in our first year, but that is because we did not really know what in the heck we were doing.  We just stuck those little plants into the ground, watered them, and hoped for the best.

This year, things are starting off differently.  We know that a grow light should not be on 24/7, and we corrected this immediately this year.  We give our little plants light during the day, and shut off the grow lights at night.  We have learned that plants need to sleep too.  We have also learned that once you transplant your seedlings into bigger peat pots after they have outgrown the seed tray, that they cannot be placed too close together.  Air needs to circulate around the peat pots so mold does not grow on the pots. If mold does start to grow on the peat pots, it can damage your plant, and also spread to the others.  Not a good thing.

When it came time for us to transplant our seedlings into bigger pots, we did use peat pots, but then I remembered that we had a lot of nice plastic pots saved in the garage from the prior year when we bought plants for the garden.  I did start most of our little plants into the peat pots, but then decided to change a lot of them into these nice plastic pots.  Now, I have noticed that by using these larger plastic pots, that no mold has grown on any pots, but I have also spaced them out nicely on the table so air can still circulate around them.  All in all, it is a learning process and we are so glad that what we have learned along the way, is now paying off.  Our plants are much healthier this year, than last year.

3-14-13 Cabbage

3-14-13 Cabbage

4-20-13 FLAT DUTCH CABBAGE

To our amazement we noticed yesterday that a couple of our Flat Dutch cabbage plants are getting huge leaves on them.  We went “WOW” when I headed down to check on them in the morning.  I started laughing and said that the next time I check on them, that a little cabbage head will probably be on them!  Not really, but by the way they are getting bigger, it would not surprise me.

4-20-13 TOMATOES

We still have a month to go to keep these plants growing until we plant them into the garden.  We need to watch for when our last frost day is, then we will be able to take the plants outside for a few minutes each day to get them used to the sun.  Another huge lesson we learned.  We did not do this last year, and it killed our plants, not all of them, but nonetheless, it killed quite a few.  The plants went into shock and died on us.

4-20-13 RED PEPPERS

Plants need to take a few days to a week to get used to the sun and different temps.  Each day, you take all the plants outside for just a few minutes at a time (about 15 minutes on the first day, then increase the time outside each day), until you have done this for about a week.  After that, you can plant your nice veggies into the garden.  I know what you are thinking… that is a lot of work!  It most definitely is, but hardening off your plants is a must do in order for them to succeed in the garden.  Just for our tomato plants alone, we have about 18 plants!  I am going to have to get a large try to carry all of these outside for sure!

We also have many green and red pepper plants too and they are coming along nicely.  By the time it is ready to plant them in the garden, they will be nice and big and have a better chance of survival.  I can’t wait to pick home grown peppers, because we use red peppers in our dinners almost every night.  And, this year I will be able to make some awesome stuffed green peppers for dinner too!  I know that Roy is real happy that I know how to cook, as he enjoys all of my creations!  For example, the other night I marinated some chicken split breasts in Marzetti’s Balsamic Vinegar and sprinkled some oregano on them.  They marinated for a few hours before they headed into the oven, and boy oh boy did they turn out awesome.  I think Roy has a new favorite dinner now!  Marinating your chicken does make the world of difference in the taste of your meal!

Gardening is a lot of work, but once you start reaping what you sow, it all makes everything worth it!  I am dreaming of the day this summer when I do my first post on my homemade salsa!  I am sure that it will not last long, as I am a salsa junkie!  With the amount of tomato plants that we have, there will be a good chance of an over-abundance of salsa this year for sure!  And, if you live anywhere near us, you could also benefit from our garden crop this year, as we love to share!

Enjoying Life

Awaiting Springs ArrivalOver here in C-Town (Cleveland, OH) at this time of year, we take it one day at a time as you just never know what the weather will be like.  For instance, yesterday morning, I happened to look outside and it was a white out, now this morning it’s full sun.  It’s still cold, around 34 degrees, but each day that passes, we know that we’re closer to better weather and closer to flip flop time!  I just had to have a little fun and run out in the snow with my flip flops on in the hopes that I could make all the snow go away!

SNOWFALL 3-13-13

BEAUTIFUL NIGHT

We have already started our seeds a few weeks ago for our garden and have been faithfully watering them every day while they soak up the warmth from our grow lights in the basement.  We love watching something that we planted pop up out of the dirt as some of the seeds were so small that I had to use tweezers just to pick them up and place them in small hole I made in the seed tray.  Our neighbor planted just two Juliet Tomato plants in his garden and he ended up reaping the rewards of probably over a thousand Juliet Tomatoes that he shared with his family.  We could not believe that just two plants produced so many tomatoes, so we have started a few Juliet’s in our seed tray and pray that we can get the same results.

JULIET TOMATOES 3-14-13

FLAT DUTCH CABBAGE 3-14-13

CONDENSATION IN SEED TRAYS

We had good luck last year with our Flat Dutch Cabbage, so we planted 18 seeds and are watching them pop up out of the dirt in the seed tray!  We planted these for Daddy’s Mom so she can make stuffed cabbage!  We also started red and green peppers, and Big Boy Tomato plants too.  A lot of our other seeds won’t be started indoors and will be planted directly into the garden like our leaf lettuce and zucchini, but we will start our cucumbers indoors a few weeks before the end of May, or before our last frost date.  I know one thing for sure, that if you walked into our laundry room (that is also used to store all of our eBay inventory) you would be greeted by some of our Halloween props just hanging around, like our life-sized skeletons that watch over our little seedlings.

SKELETONS IN THE BASEMENT

Nikita and Bella

Nikita and Bella definitely know that the weather is changing as they are hearing & seeing more wildlife these days.  The words “Big Doggies” get the dogs running to the front windows only to see all of the deer that we have running around the neighborhood.  When it is nap time for Nikita, nothing disturbs her, but Bella hears everything and alerts us when the Big Doggies are around the house, or in some cases, walking down the sidewalk which makes me laugh every time I see it.  We even saw our first Robin the other morning, which means that Spring is very near!

NIKITA IN SUN 3-14-13

NIKITA CLOSEUP 3-14-13

NIKITA 3-14-13

NIKITA SITTING 3-14-13

Nikita was posing for me in the sun this morning and I just had to capture how beautiful she is with some photographs.  I love the many faces that she has when she looks around the neighborhood, so intense, so intelligent, so cuddly!  Since the sun is out today, we headed on over to the park and took a nice walk and enjoyed the sun while it’s here, and I am sure that nap time will soon be here.

Nap Time