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?

 

Gardening Magicians

Being a gardener, we some times feel like we have to also be magicians. We work our magic in the soil, we create fantasies of bountiful harvests, we trick the bugs to go away, and we climb to new heights in protecting our plants from any harm.

STRAWBERRY 6-8-14

We noticed that our strawberries were being attacked by both the birds and the chipmunks, and we sprung into action over the weekend. We purchased a nice long roll of critter netting at Lowes (which was at a great price too) and placed it over our strawberry patch.

COMMAND STRIPS

We were going to build a frame out of either wood or pvc to go around the strawberry patch, but I came up with an easier and much cheaper idea for our strawberries protection. Now that we had the netting, we needed to figure out a way to hold up the netting.  I am not sure how I got this idea, but it was a good one! We purchased a box of nine Command Strips!

COMMAND STRIPS TO HOLD UP NETTING

I cleaned off the siding on the garage next to the strawberry patch and attached the Command Strips to the siding. Then we just took the netting and “hooked” it to the Command Strip and made sure it was nice and tight up against the garage. Next, we ran the roll down the strawberry patch and cut off what we did not need. Then we just tucked the remaining netting around the front of the stones and secured it into the ground with little metal hooks. Now, we will at least have a good chance of eating the strawberries that are ripening now, and our crop is bigger than ever!

ZUCCHINI 6-8-14

I also wanted to share a tip with you that I found on Pinterest!  We are trying to grow Zucchini again this year, since we tried to grow it in prior years and had no luck. In prior years, we just planted the seeds directly in the soil and the chipmunks just kept digging up the seeds and eating them, so this year we decided to start them indoors to get the plants nice and healthy before we took them out to the garden. We have nine zucchini plants that were planted in our new raised garden and the tip that I learned on Pinterest was to place a tomato cage over the zucchini’s so that they would grow up inside the cages to contain their huge leaves. So far, we have seen new growth on our nine plants and their leaves are up and over the first rung of the tomato cage. We’ll keep you up to date on how this new tip is working for us this year, as we really think it is going to make a huge difference!

PEA POD 6-8-14

I don’t know how I missed this, but I noticed over the weekend that we have pea pods growing! Yippee!  We have nine pea plants in the garden and they are all flowering! This is the first time ever that we tried to grow peas and if our plants do well, we will for sure be planting them every year!

BABY PEA POD 6-8-14

Look at that adorable baby pea pod!

LEAF LETTUCE 6-8-14

My Sweetie is so proud of his leaf lettuce, and his straight rows that he planted!  Look at how nice it is coming along!

ROMAINE LETTUCE 6-8-14

The Romaine Lettuce is looking really good too! Ooooh, we can’t wait for some delicious salads now!  These were all started indoors too under our grow lights.

FLAT DUTCH CABBAGE 6-8-14

The Flat Dutch Cabbage is finally taking hold in the garden! We are also going to do some netting around each cabbage plant to keep the white moths off of them this year.

WALLY THE WATERMELON 6-8-14

In our entire garden, this is the only plant we purchased. This is “Wally” the Watermelon. It was the spur of the moment purchase, and thought “why not”, let’s plant a watermelon!

It rained over the weekend and it could not have come at a more perfect time, because I totally ran out of water in our rain barrel. We got one full rain barrel filled up, and part of our second one. By using rain barrels, it definitely saves on the water bill of watering the garden and our flowers!

What are you growing where you live? How do you battle the critters in your garden? We would love to hear your thoughts!

 

Going To New Heights

If you have followed along with our garden adventures, you know that last year was the year for critter & deer attacks in our garden. And, since we learn from our experiences, this year we are taking action on keeping the deer out of our garden.

Last year, our garden fence was six feet high, and the deer just jumped right up and over the fence to our amazement. We never knew that a deer could just stand there and jump up that high, well we know now. So this year, I am adding more height to our garden fence with the hopes that this will keep out the deer.

ADDING HEIGHT TO GARDEN FENCE 6-3-14

As you can see from our photographs, the garden fence frame starts with those nice 5′ high metal stakes which we pound into the ground. Then we unrolled the thick black plastic fencing which is 3′ in height and attached that to the garden stakes with tie wraps. We then added the second layer on top of that to make the fence 6′ in height and tie wrapped those two layers into place.

This is where the dilemma begins. Since I am at the top of those metal stakes now, I need more height & stability to add another layer of garden fencing. Now what? I sat there for awhile and wondered how to get this accomplished and then had a fantastic idea. I grabbed some small PVC pipes I had (and borrowed a few from our wonderful neighbor) and slipped the PVC pipes into the back of those green metal stakes and they fit perfectly! Now, I have heightened the frame perfectly, but there is still a problem. I need to secure the PVC pipes to the green stakes and tie wraps were not strong enough.

FENCE POLES 6-3-14

A light bulb went off in my head and I ran for my power tools, which is always the answer! I drilled a small hole near the bottom of the PVC pipes, then slipped the PVC pipe into the back of the green metal stake and added a screw and a nut to tighten it. Problem solved. Now I can add the third layer of fencing to the PVC pipes and secure it with tie wraps!

GARDEN VIEW 6-3-14

Since I was up on the ladder, I had to take this photograph of our garden. I love how our garden area is coming along and it makes me smile everytime I head into this gorgeous area. Our garden fence is now almost nine feet in height, and we can now relax at night and not worry about a deer jumping into the garden. Well, we hope they don’t at least. It’s not the prettiest of fences, but we use what we have to work with.

CLOUDS 6-3-14

With that out of the way, I still have a few more plants to get into the garden, believe it or not. We still had our Connecticut Field Pumpkins downstairs under the grow lights and it was time to get them out in the garden. We are planting them in our back garden bed with high hopes that we will have pumpkins to carve for Halloween.

BELLA 6-5-14

Bella loves heading into the garden area with me, as I think she thinks it another room. She can’t wait for me to open the garden door and she walks around smelling the plants. She watched me planting the pumpkins and sniffed all the pots that I threw on the grass. I added a small trellis for the pumpkins to crawl up too.

ROOT BOUND PUMPKINS 6-5-14

Definitely, these pumpkins are ready to be planted!

PLANTING PUMPKINS 6-5-14

The pumpkins new home & trellis.

BELLA FOUND A SKULL IN THE GARDEN

Bella found a new friend in the garden and had to check it out.

LEAF LETTUCE 6-3-14

Our leaf lettuce is coming up nicely!

ROMAINE LETTUCE 6-3-14

We started eight Romaine Lettuce plants under the grow lights and this is how big they are already. We also planted a few more seeds too in the section right next to this area for a few more plants, just in case. I love the taste of Romaine Lettuce a lot more than leaf lettuce, and can’t wait to make some delicious chicken caesar salads.

Gardening is always an adventure as you just never know what is going to happen from year to year, but the experiences are always interesting. We love sharing our gardening adventures with you and we hope that we inspire you along the way.

 

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?

Nothing But Blue Skies

Last week was pretty much slow going because I was under the weather. I have to laugh because I made it through all the winter months of frigid temps, to only get sick when the weather got warmer, go figure.

 

GARDEN FENCE

Anyhow, I have been slowly plugging along trying to clean up the yard, fix all the pee spot damage, clean out all of the flower beds, lay mulch, and get the garden fence up to keep the deer out. I had to put the garden fence up early, because last year I uncovered our strawberry plants to only have the deer walk in and start eating them, so this year, the fence went up first! (when gardening, you always learn from your mistakes!)  

The photo of our garden fence (above) is six feet tall right now, but I am going to add another two feet of black fencing to the top. The photo (below) shows the awesome idea I had on how I was actually going to increase the height of the fence. Since the green metal garden poles were only so high, I had to figure out a way to add “height” to the fence. So, I grabbed some of our scrap white PVC pipes and inserted them into the green metal poles, and they fit. Now, I am going to pick up a few more of the PVC pipes to install another two feet to the height of the fence to keep the deer out. Hopefully, this will keep them out this year!

ADDING HEIGHT TO FENCE

I also uncovered our huge strawberry bed with all the straw that covered them through the winter months, as it was time for them to start rejuvenating in the sun rays. What’s amazing about growing strawberries is that the first year you start your plants in the ground, they do not produce. Then, the following year, they produce small amounts of berries. Now, going into our third year for our strawberry patch, we should see some great results and a huge crop!  I still have to build a frame around the strawberry patch to keep the birds out and the chipmunks away.

GARDEN PATH

With the garden fence up, I noticed that I had a bunch of stones leftover from the flower bed borders, so I decided to lay them on the ground to see if I had enough to make us a brick walkway into the garden. And guess what? I had enough!  Right now, the bricks are just laid on top of the grass so I can see the walk design I want, and once I get the design of the walk the way I want it, I will dig the stones into the grass so I can mow right over them. Yes, this is going to take me awhile to dig them all in, but we will have a beautiful stone walkway in our garden area when done. Every year, I try to come up with unique ideas to beautify the backyard and this will be a wonderful addition to the yard.

ADDING STONE WALKWAY IN GARDEN

GARDEN PATH2

The next thing that I would like to decide on, is how to “light up” the garden area!  I have seen so many unique ideas on Pinterest that have caught my attention that I might want to try. Here are two ideas:

LIGHT2

LIGHT

Our little plants are growing nicely under the warmth of the grow lights and what is amazing, is how some of them were so root bound in their little pots, so transplanting them into larger pots was a must. I get such a kick out of watching them grow every day, giving them the tender loving care that they need. I know that everyone is anxiously awaiting the arrival of our tomatoes, because we shared hundreds of tomatoes with family and friends last year, as our crop was bountiful.

TRANSPLANTING

This is a photo of when I transplanted the seedlings.

RED PEPPERS

The red peppers before transplanting. Look how cute they are!

BEANS AND CUCUMBERS

These are the cucumbers after being transplanted. They are coming along nicely!

JULIETS AND CANTAOUPE

The Juliet Tomatoes (in the red containers) and our Cantaloupes (in the green ones).

JULIET TOMATOES

I am already dreaming of my lunches of tomatoes & cucumbers in the summer!  Oh, the joys of reaping what you sow!  Summer, here we come!

Cleaning Up After Old Man Winter

With fingers crossed, I think we have finally seen the last of Old Man Winter. This had to be one of the worst, longest, and coldest winter we have seen in years, and I am glad to finally say good-bye.

Now comes the all the work in repairing the damage that Old Man Winter has done to the yard. I gathered my supplies of garden gloves, my edging shovel, bags of topsoil, black mulch, and my rake. (and my camera too!)

Yard Recovery1

Our flower bed behind the house was created a few years ago. Once there was nothing there but grass, but I decided the backyard needed to be spruced up a bit, and now, it is a flourishing flower bed that has matured quite nicely. For starters, I wanted to remove the curve I had in the flower bed so the flowers have more room to grow & expand.

YARD RECOVERY2

I started off with temporarily placing my garden bricks in a straight line to see how the bricks laid out. They fit in place nicely, so I set them aside and started to cut out the grass that was in that little curve spot with my edging shovel. This is a MUST do for a flower bed – – remove the grass first before you fill with topsoil!

YARD RECOVERY3

Once all the grass was removed, I started laying the bricks to complete my straight line flower bed border. Brick by brick, I over-lapped each one until the border was complete. Then, I filled the flower bed with bags of topsoil, then mulched the area. Mulch is needed in a flower bed because it helps hold in moisture for your plants.

YARD RECOVERY4

I noticed that a lot of my perennials were starting to emerge from the soil from all the sun we were having lately. I was pleased to see this as it tells me that our nicer weather will soon be here.

The dogs enjoyed the day outside basking in the sun and kept a watchful eye on what I was doing, just in case they wanted to help Mommy out.

BELLA HEY WHATS UP MOMMY

Bella is always silly and has to stick her face right in the camera!

NIKITA OUTSIDE ENJOYING THE SUN

Nikita watches everything that is going on & sniffs everything in sight!

BELLA SOAKING UP THE SUN

Bella relaxing in the sun. She is probably wondering where it has been all this time!

NIKITA CHECKING OUT THE GARDEN FENCE

Nikita is checking out the garden fence, just to make sure it is safe. Sniff, sniff, sniff!

BELLA

Here’s my best side Mommy!

NIKITA

I love this photograph of Nikita posing!  She is so beautiful and loves spending time outside with Mommy.

We are so glad to see our weather finally coming together and even though we have lots of work to do, we are glad to do it. As for our raised garden, I got the first coat of polyurethane on the wood to help protect it from rotting, and we have our Miracle Gro garden soil & other nutrients ready to be emptied into the garden. I have already turned over the soil in the garden three times, so it is nice and ready for our plantings next month.  It is still not close to the time to take anything outside, as we have to wait for any last sneaky frost warnings in our zone 5 area to pass.

 

 

Our Gardening Adventure Has Begun

With the hopes that all of the snow is now behind us, and Mother Nature cooperates and allows Spring to finally arrive, we have started our adventure into the wonderful world of gardening.

GERMINATION 3-30-14

We are still in a thawing stage right now here in our area, and actually had a nice warm day yesterday that melted all of the snow we received over the weekend. I actually had the chance to head out to the garden and turn over the soil for the first time this year, in preparation for our 2014 gardening season.

RED PEPPERS 3-30-14

I am not sure if most of you know, but this will be our third gardening season. We learned a great deal of advice from our neighbor, Steve, who has grown the most incredible gardens that we have seen, and we have also learned a lot from trial and error. All the things we did wrong in our first garden season in 2012, we corrected going into season #2 in 2013, so we hope that this year we can once again produce lots of veggies.

RED PEPPER 3-30-14

We have started our seeds already in the basement under the warming grow lights, but we started them a few weeks later than we did last year. (this pertains to the trial and error part I was talking about) Last year, for instance, we started our tomato plants too early, and by the time they were ready to head outside, they were already too tall.  This year, we want a more manageable size heading out to the garden. This is all a process, but a process that teaches you all about gardening and what “works” for you.  Some people do things differently, and that’s fine, but we are finding our groove of what works for us.

CUCUMBERS SPROUTING 3-30-14

We know for a fact, and if you did not know this you’ll thank us later, but tomato and pepper plants need Magnesium. If you have ever grown a tomato plant and noticed your tomatoes splitting at the top, or had a dark color bottom that looked like it was rotting – – well, that is a sure sign that your tomato plants were lacking in Magnesium.  By sprinkling Epsom Salt around your tomato and pepper plants once a week, and watering regularly, you will provide your plants with the much needed Magnesium that they require. You will not see any more split tomatoes or bottom rot on them, and your pepper plants will grow bigger and produce nice sized peppers. (you’re welcome!)

CUCUMBERS 3-30-14

If you have followed along with our gardening adventure last year, then you know that we had a deer jump our fence and ate half of our garden one night. It was devastating to see. So, with the start of a new year of gardening, we have that high on our priority list to put up another high fence to keep them out.

CUCUMBERS 4-1-14

What I find truly fun and intriguing too, is watching our seeds germinate and grow each and every day. They have needs. They don’t complain. But they need tender loving care a few times a day. They make me smile. And, one day, I will be enjoying my tomato and cucumber salads for lunch every day. We actually picked over 1,200 Juliet Tomatoes last year alone! (and yes, I will be counting every tomato I pick this year too, just to see how it compares to last year)

BUSH LAKE BEANS 4-1-14

We are so happy to have started our journey and adventure again into gardening, and as you know, we always keep you up to date on what’s happening. We’re far from being experts, we’ll take any advice we can get, but we love the experience of gardening and working in the dirt.

BIG BOY TOMATOES 3-30-14

 

We hope you will enjoy following along with us and watch our progress on how we setup our garden and it’s growth.

Itching to Grow Something

As a gardener, the winter months weigh on you.  You flip through all of your seed catalogs, you dream of what your garden will look like, and you salivate at what you will be eating. You are itching to just get out in the yard to dig around in the soil, pull weeds, water, and baby your plants.

RP 1-11-14 POPPED UP

But we are not even close to gardening season yet. Our snow covered ground has slightly melted, only the high piles of snow still exist. The snow piles by the edge of the roads are all nasty looking with dirt.  Yet, we are still dreaming of gardening.  We won’t be starting any of our seeds indoors yet until around the end of February/beginning of March, but I have been itching to grow something.

RP CONDENSATION

So, I pulled out two red pepper seeds that I saved from one of our peppers and planted them in a little McDonalds sundae container, and put another container on top as a lid  to keep the condensation inside. I set the container under our little light we have on our kitchen counter to keep them warm and provide the light they needed to germinate. They were planted on January 3rd, and just yesterday the 11th, one popped up!  I was beginning to think that they would never germinate, but one did, finally.  Now, I have something to watch grow!

FIRST RED PEPPER PLANT OF 2014

As a gardener, we love to watch things grow.  You feel the need to nurture something, and when you see it finally pop it’s little green stem from the dirt, you do a happy dance. And I did just that!  We are a long way away from starting the rest of our seeds indoors, but just having the chance to watch these little peppers grow under the kitchen light, is good enough for us right now.

I bet McDonalds never knew that their sundae cups were good seed starters!