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?

 

Advertisements

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: 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 for October

I thought that it was time to give you a garden update!  It’s October, and yes, our garden is still producing vegetables for us!  While most gardeners are putting their gardens to rest for the season, our garden is still working hard for us and producing. But, it is winding down, as we have watched our tomato plant branches start to yellow a bit.  Do you have any guesses on how many Juliets and how many Big Boy Tomatoes we picked so far?

We have had an interesting gardening season nonetheless.  From every shape & size of critters from a chipmunk to deer and everything in between, they have made gardening this year challenging for sure.  The chipmunks in the beginning, dug up and ate most of our seeds we planted, the ground hogs arrived to plague havoc on us by digging under our back fence and invading the garden for a feast, to the deer who surprisingly jumped our high 6+ foot fence and damaged, well, everything in the garden.  If it was not for the deer damage that night, we would have had produced more vegetables throughout the season.

This is what the garden looks like as of today.  The tomato plants are all yellowing, but still producing.  Both the green and red peppers are still producing nice sized peppers and growing new ones as of today.

OUR GARDEN 10-2-13

The red and green pepper plants are still going strong and blooming with new peppers, with tons of nice sized ones right now, ready to be picked.  When the deer jumped the fence that one night, they chowed down each and every pepper plant down to nubs.  They ate all the peppers that were on each plant, ate all the leaves, every branch, and left us with green ripped apart stalks.  It was depressing, nonetheless, but surprisingly the plants all came back with Epsom Salt and some plant food.

Over the weekend, I pulled out all of the cucumber plants from the garden as they were done producing.

CUCUMBERS 10-2-13

Our sunflowers are done blooming, and I cut them from their thick stalks and we’re drying the seeds right now.

SUNFLOWER 10-2-13

To our surprise, we have found three cantaloupes growing in our garden bed by the strawberries.  I ran across one, then found a second one, then just the other day, I found the third one.  They are about 3-4″ in size and look like they might actually produce some melons for us!  WOW!

CANTELOUPE

All of our six Juliet Tomato plants look pathetic.  Yes, that is the perfect word for them now, but they still have Juliet Tomatoes on them, ripening every day.  I pick anywhere between 30-50 of them every day.  (I’m not kidding about this either)  Their time will be ending soon, but as long as I see green Juliets on the plants, I will keep watering them.  I have definitely had my fill of tomatoes this season, as well as every else whom I shared them with.  We will be planting these again next year for sure!  As of today, I have picked a total of 1,056 Juliet Tomatoes and 238 Big Boy Tomatoes!

JULIET TOMATOES 10-2-13

See what I mean…still lots of “red” on those branches!

OUR GARDEN 9-30-13

I will probably have one last garden post when I finally put our garden to rest for the season, when I have to pull out all of the plants from the ground.  That will be a sad day for sure, but that just means that we get to do this all over again next year.  When 2014 arrives, we will have our seed catalogs out to pick what we will grow for the next gardening season, and the process starts all over again.

“It all started with a seed and will end with a hoe.”

 

Garden Update 7-22-13

GARDEN COLLAGE 7-22-13

Another week has passed and we have evaded any deer attacks in the garden, except now something is taking advantage of our cabbage.  We are thinking that a bunny got in the garden area somehow, but we’re not sure since we have not seen one yet.  The cabbage heads are still intact, but the outer leaves have been severely nibbled.

FLAT DUTCH CABBAGE 7-22-13

We do have some good news to report, as our Juliet Tomatoes are now starting to ripen.  HINT: When Juliets form on the vine, they usually come in a group of 10, so just imagine how many tomatoes we are going to pick with batches like that! They have come back after the deer had chewed lots of the branches a few weeks earlier, and are now filled with nice huge tomatoes, getting ready to be picked soon.  Phew!  You should click on the photographs to enlarge so you can see actually how tall our one Juliet plant is.  It is amazing on how this just sky-rocketed!  (we need to find a pole tall enough to support it now)

JULIET TOMATO 7-22-13

JULIET TOMATOES 7-22-13

SEVEN FOOT HIGH JULIET TOMATO PLANT 7-22-13

Our weather has been so up and down here lately, one week with nothing but rain, then temps in the 90’s, and now this week we’re back to normal temps and cooler, and we even had more rain today with hail.  If we can just get a nice week of sun, the garden would surely ripen up nicely.

SPIDER IN THE GARDEN 7-22-13

I just noticed today that we finally have a small Red Warty Thing pumpkin that has formed.  Our pumpkins are really behind in their growth this year and we hope that we can actually get a pumpkin or two before Halloween.

Our zucchini is taking its good ole time in growing too, but we are not surprised with this as they did the same thing last year.  We need to improve our soil next year as this will encourage growth with more nutrients.  Remember that our zucchini plants are in the flower bed next to the garage, and are not in our raised garden.  But what is strange, is that our strawberry patch is on the left side of this same flower bed and the strawberries did great this season.  Who knows why one kind of plant does well and the other grows slower, but it has to be all about the soil composition.  That’s ok though, as next year we are planning on planting the zucchini in the raised garden bed, as we feel the strawberry plants will take over that entire flower bed area.  (by the way, look at the photo below…can you see where the arrow is?  That is where the strawberry plants started at the beginning of the season.  Now they are more than halfway through the flower bed)

ZUCCHINI 7-22-13

STRAWBERRY PATCH 7-22-13

The cucumbers have grown with leaps and bounds and are climbing up the two trellis’s and little cucumbers are all over the vines.  I could only imagine how much taller our cucumbers would be now, if the deer would not have pruned them down to nubs a few weeks ago.

CUCUMBERS 7-22-13

BABY CUCUMBER 7-22-13

We were sitting here talking the other day and we could not believe all of the setbacks we have had this gardening season.  One after another, and we were close to just throwing in the towel on the whole garden a few times, but then you get that burst of energy that pulls you back up to fight back against the elements & the critters.  Even having a small garden like ours, is a lot of work, time involved, and lots of maintenance.  Our garden is 6′ x 16′ and you would think that it would be a breeze to maintain…think again!

SUNFLOWERS FROM AUNTIE RENE

It’s all worth it though just to be able to pick something that you grew yourself, as you can appreciate all the work that went behind starting that plant from a seed the size of a “dot”.

Garden Update June 3, 2013

NIKITA MAGAZINE COVER

Ah, the beginning of June has finally arrived.  By now, everyone’s garden should be planted and the hopes of harvesting a plentiful crop is on everyone’s mind.  We are as well, dreaming of the day when we can start picking veggies from the garden, but also watching your plants mature is an adventure in itself.

6-3-13 OUR GARDEN

A few days ago, we took off the Creamora bottles from our zucchini.  The plants have matured enough to stand alone from chippie attacks, but we are still keeping a watchful eye on them.  (one seed still has the bottle over it so the chippies don’t eat it!)

6-3-13 ZUCCHINI

Our strawberry plants are growing like they are on crack and will soon take over the whole garden bed by our garage.  We even got to eat our first few strawberries over the weekend, and need to watch the chippies as they are starting to nip the ripe berries.

6-3-13 BLOOMING STRAWBERRY

The Black Seeded Simpson Leaf Lettuce is coming in beautifully in two straight rows.  It is funny how we have some spots that are bushier than others, but that is probably because we might have dropped more seeds in those places.

6-3-13 LEAF LETTUCE

Both are red and green pepper plants are maturing nicely.  We even have little peppers forming!

6-3-13 RED PEPPER

Two of our Juliet Tomato plants that we thought we might have lost due the frost we had are actually producing tomatoes right now!  Nice!

6-3-13 JULIET TOMATOES

I even added some Halloween crows in our garden, which scare the pants off of Roy every time he goes into the garden.  I laugh, but hope that the birds will scare away whatever might enter to munch on our plants.  We’ll see if they do any good, but for now, it provides a good laugh every time we head into our garden.  Here’s one, just hanging around on our garden door.

6-3-13 GARDEN BIRDIE

We headed off to our local garden center over the weekend to purchase the only two plants we did not start from seed.  These Jalapeno plants will be used for my salsa and I will get my Cilantro from our next door neighbor.

CONE FLOWER BLACK AND WHITEYELLOW FLOWER

All in all, we are so pleased on the progress of our garden as it is coming along nicely.  Even Roy’s Jack Be Little Pumpkin plants are getting bigger by the day.  We also have other pumpkins growing too, which include Connecticut Field and Red Warty Thing pumpkins.  If you have never heard of the Red Warty Thing Pumpkin before, Google it to see how cool it looks! It it reddish orange in color with bumps or warts all over it.  We tried to grow these last year and they did remarkable in the garden, but the deer ate them and we were left with nothing.  This year, we have them protected inside our garden fence, so the deer won’t be munching on them this year.  Live and learn – the gardeners hardships only make them better gardeners!

Spring Storms & Blooms

Cleveland, OH is the only place on earth where you can go from 87 degrees on Monday to 40 degrees by Thursday in one week.  

On Monday, it was sweltering hot and just trying to get through the task of mowing your lawn before you fainted, was tough.  By Wednesday, the weather changed, storms arrived, brought downpours of rain, and I had to put away the flip flops for more suitable footwear.  Yep, we live in Cleveland, OH and this happens all the time. The weather here is so unpredictable.  We’re used to it, but don’t like it.  It sucks.

STORM SKY 5-23-13

STORMY ORANGE SKY 5-23-13

STORMS 5-23-13

STORM 5-23-13

Doesn’t the weather man or Mother Nature know that we are trying to start a garden over here?  Geez.  I had to head outside after dinner last night, and completed covered the entire garden with plastic to protect it from the bitter cold and high winds. The garden looks hideous right now, but at least it is covered up and the plants are protected.  Hopefully this will keep the soil warm a bit.  By the time I got inside, I was soaked and freezing.  My fingers felt like they were going to fall off from frost bite.  (not really, but that is what it felt like)  What we thought was amazing, is that our rain barrel has completely filled up from the rain we got this week.  The barrel is either a 50 or 55 gallon barrel and in just a few days of rain, it is overflowing!  We might need to check back with our neighbor to see if we can get a second barrel from him and use it as an overflow barrel.  With the rate at which the barrel filled up, we will have enough rain water to water the garden all season!  Nice!  Now, we can definitely see firsthand why everyone wants rain barrels!  Not to mention, rain water is so much better for your plants than the water coming from your hose.

I love photographing the sky.  The cloud formations lately have been stunning, yet quite eerie.  I can sometimes sit at the kitchen table and watch as the darkness rolls in and changes the skyline completely.  The way the skies looked this past week is like how they would look if we were expecting Halloween to arrive, not Spring.  But, what are you going to do?  Absolutely nothing, just bundle up.  I had to put on my Cleveland Browns hat and warm winter coat just to head outside with the dogs last night.

FERN

MARIGOLD

FLOWER2

Earlier in the week, I got some great photographs of our Spring blooms. I have to capture them at just the right time for some stunning buds.  The fern stems are all unrolling, the marigolds are magnificent, the peonies are getting ready to open, and the smell of the neighbors lilac trees fill the air.

LILAC

PEONY

TREE

Our warmer weather won’t be returning until about Sunday, so I am just going to sit here next to my space heater and keep warm.  And just think, June is just around the corner and I have a winter coat back on!  Something is not right here.

 

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 Veggies Growing in the Basement!

Our Tomato Harvest

It is every gardeners dream to grow their own veggies.  The pride that comes from walking out to your garden and picking a fresh veggie is so rewarding.  We started about half of our garden from seeds and have probably more than 40 plants in the basement under the warmth of grow lights.  They are ready to head outside, but we are just waiting for our last frost date in our zone.  Since we had frost over the weekend, we feel that the end is near for cold temps here and gardening season will soon be full speed ahead!  We will also be planting cucumbers, leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, and celery too!

I am amazed on how well our plants have been doing and just had to share with you some of our progression photographs.  What’s amazing is that in just a few days, the plants get bigger and I have to move the grow lights up again on the chains they are attached to.  Progression.  Growth.  Smiles.

3-29-13

3-29-13

4-28-13

4-28-13

5-12-13

5-12-13

But what is more amazing is that we noticed a few days ago that we already have small peppers growing on a few of our pepper plants!  Amazing is what I call that!  What I would love to try over the winter, is to start some plants and see if we can produce fresh veggies during the winter.  Now that would be amazing!

Small peppers are already growing on our plants!

Small peppers are already growing on our plants!

Awhile ago, when I was transplanting the seedlings out of the seed tray and into bigger pots, there was one Big Boy Tomato plant that kinda did not make it.  All of its leaves fell off, and all that was left was a “little stick”.  When I say little stick, it was about an inch high and looked like nothing could save this little tomato plant.  But…. I decided to try to nurture this “stick” back to health.  I carefully transplanted it into a bigger pot with a spoon as not to disturb any roots (if there were any at that point).  I watered it, and gave it a nice spot under the grow light.  To my amazement, after all of my love and affection for this little stick, it has now grown into a beautiful tomato plant!  I am going to tie something onto this tomato plant when it heads out to the garden, and will cherish each and every tomato I pick from my little stick as I have grown quite attached to it!  (NOTE:  My little stick is the tomato plant below with the binder clip on it)

I almost threw this "stick" out, but saved it!  Now, look at it!

I almost threw this “stick” out, but saved it! Now, look at it!

Our new rain barrel is filling up nicely with rain water and getting well stocked with what we need to keep our plants well watered this season.  This will surely keep the water bill to a minimum this summer!  Keep checking back for more progression photographs, and soon we will be taking all of our plants outside and into the garden.  It’s time to grow up and move out of the house!

When Gardening is just a dream…for now

Image

The new year has just arrived, we’re covered in snow from head to toe, and we anxiously await the gardening season, as the 2013 garden catalogs start arriving in the mail.  Every time I head outside to the backyard with the dogs, I stand there in the cold waiting for them to (ya know), and I look at our snow covered raised garden bed.  Our garden bed is completely covered in snow, as sad as it may be, but I hear it calling me from under all that cold white stuff.  Our strawberries are buried under the safe bed of straw we laid before the cold hit us, and we hope that they will produce for us this year.  We planted them last year and knew that they would not produce in their first year, but they grew big and strong through the growing season, so we hope they have a good chance at coming back.  

Image

We know that we have not had much snow for our season up until the day after Christmas, when we got hit badly many many days in a row, and we know that we will not see our last bit of snow either, as this season seems to last so long.  And, when we get up to that day called Ground Hog’s Day, we always know that the outcome will always be “six more weeks of winter”, as that is always the case.

Nonetheless, day dreaming of gardening is huge with all gardeners as we sit and wait for the weather to start clearing up, the soil starting to thaw, and that last report of a frost warning to arrive for our growing zone.  But, before all of that happens, most gardeners start their seeds indoors.  Since I am chomping at the bit to watch our little seeds starting to emerge from the soil under the warm grow lights, I planted a few Romaine Seeds yesterday in a Figi water bottle.  I cut the top off of the bottle and filled it with our good garden soil and dropped in a couple of Romaine Seeds and covered them up nicely.  Now I wait.  The seed pack said it would take at least 10 days for germination, but I am watching the top of the soil every time I walk by the water bottle!  LOL  

Image

Image

Last year, we had some of our plants not do that well, like our beans, zucchini, and cucumbers, but this year we will correct those issues to ensure our plants will produce.  We knew our beans were in trouble from the start, but we kept hoping that they would produce.  As for our zucchini, we would have had an abundance of them if it were not for the damn chipmunks who ate the seeds (while in the dirt), or the chewed the plants when they sprouted a little.  But this year, we are going to fix that issue by placing water bottles over the spot we plant the seed so the chipmunks can’t eat them.  (you just take small water bottles and cut the bottom of the bottle off and then remove the cap so air can get in)

Sifting through our Burpee catalog and other gardening catalogs surely makes a gardener drool, as they dream of the day when they can walk out to their garden and pick some fresh vegetables for dinner, and can enjoy a nice salad with home grown tomatoes & cucs! Ah, the joys of summer are only a few months away, but being able to wait for its arrival, is another thing.  I just can’t personally wait for the days when I can walk outside in flip flops again – gosh, I miss that a lot.  It’s going to be a long winter, bummer.  

What are you going to plant in your garden this year?  

Image

When Your Garden Starts Producing

This year’s heat index and drought have plagued many gardeners, and it has touched our garden as well.  Plants are struggling to produce, wilt from lack of water, get nibbled on by deer and other rodents, and suffer severely from the high temps, but we forge on.  We are determined to not let our garden suffer and we are doing all we can to help it through.  We just recently purchased a couple of soaker hoses that we are going to lay through the garden to keep the soil nice and moist as that is what the roots of the plants need.  Leaf lettuce, for instance, has a short root system and requires lots of water, just as the cucumbers need lots of water to keep healthy. 

With all of our efforts, we have reaped what we sowed and have enjoyed some delicious veggies!  To date, we have picked:  45 cherry tomatoes, 15 beefsteak tomatoes, 11 big boy tomatoes, 10 onions, rows & rows of leaf lettuce and a few cucumbers.  We are so proud to have enjoyed so far what we have picked since this is our first time gardening and have learned quite a bit from our experiences. 

Our Jack Be Little Pumpkins are growing nice long vines and we are noticing some small little pumpkins starting to form, and we’re excited about that!  Our Red Warty Thing Pumpkins have had a rough life.  The deer have been torturing our baby plants, have eaten almost all of them, and they keep coming back to dine on more.  So, last night I took some plastic pots we had leftover from some plants we purchased, and covered the small Red Warty Things up at night to keep the deer away.    Our one Red Warty Thing that had the huge stalk and was getting quite big was eaten down to nothing and the deer actually pulled it right out of the ground.  We planted the stalk that was damaged back into the soil and to our surprise, it has started growing leaves on it! 

We enjoyed our somewhat cooler Sunday afternoon out in the backyard and played with Nikita who enjoyed being outside for a change.  Since it has been so hot lately, we could not enjoy the outdoors as she has a double coat and it’s too hot for her to spend much time outside.  We don’t want our adorable baby to have a heat stroke now do we?

The dog days of summer are limited now that we have turned yet another month on the calendar and we now face August.  It’s sad to even think that soon we’ll be outside shoveling snow again.  Ug.