Wordless Wednesday

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

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

ROMAINE LETTUCE IN THE SNOW

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

Garden Update – Highs and Lows

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

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

PUMPKIN 7-20-14

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

PUMPKIN

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

JULIET TOMATOES RIPENING 7-24-14

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

JULIET TOMATO 7-24-14

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

ROMAINE

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

ROMAINE REJUVINATING

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

GARDEN PORN

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

CABBAGE 7-24-14

Our cabbage is forming some nice sized heads already too!

BIG BOY TOMATO 7-24-14

The Big Boy Tomatoes are getting bigger by the day!

SUNFLOWER 7-24-14

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

HORN WORM 7-24-14

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

The signs you have a Horn Worm in your garden:

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

What you need to do to immediately:

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

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

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

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: 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!