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.

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.

Garden Update – June 17th

OUR GARDEN 6-17-13

We cannot pinpoint the exact reason that our garden is doing so well this year, but we’re happy about it!  The multiple factors that we have changed from last year (our first year ever gardening), to now, made all the difference.  As I have mentioned, being a gardener you learn some hard lessons along the way.  For example, last year we did not use a rain barrel.  This year we are.  That in itself, made a huge difference, as we all know that rain water is much better for the garden and it shows in the growth of our plants.  Not to mention, the water bill will be kept to a minimum, as we have not watered our garden with anything else, but rain water.

FLAT DUTCH CABBAGE 6-17-13

I know that I have complained about all the rain we have been getting lately, but it has kept our garden well watered.  It is great in that aspect, as just when I think that I have almost exhausted the entire drum of rain water, a storm rolls through and it is full again!  We even have cleaned out a huge garbage can on wheels, and are using it as a backup for rain water.  We just unhook the flexible hose attached to the gutter and let the rain water drain into the garbage can.  This is awesome, because all we have to do is “dunk” the watering can into the garbage can and fill up!  What amazes us is how quick a 55 gallon rain barrel can get filled up with one rainy downfall.

CONTAINER GARDENING A JULIET TOMATO

I think I did forget to mention, that we’re trying out two Juliet Tomato plants in large containers just to see what the difference is between plants in the garden, and plants in a container.  Right now, one of our container Juliet Tomato plants is starting to bloom, so tomatoes are soon to follow!

JULIET TOMATO 6-17-13

THE SMELL OF TOMATO PLANTS

What really blows our mind is, that our whole entire garden (minus the leaf lettuce and Romaine) were all started in our basement under a grow light.  We basically ran out of room on the one table we had as the plants got bigger, so we now know that we will need an extra table and more grow lights for next year to make room for everything.  Heaven help us if we had a bigger yard, as we know that we would most definitely build more raised garden beds!

RED PEPPER 6-17-13

LEAF LETTUCE 6-17-13

We had to cover up our strawberry patch (which we are sure by next year, or even the end of this growing season will take over the flower bed) to protect them from all the birds.  We watched them one afternoon just swooping in, one after another, flying in and grabbing a strawberry, then off they went.  We knew immediately that we had to do something to protect our berries!  The chipmunks can still get through this netting, but we are picking berries every day now as fast as they ripen, so at least we are getting the chance to enjoy our harvest!

STRAWBERRY PATCH COVERED TO KEEP OUT THE BIRDS

Gardening is sure an adventure, one that we enjoy each and every day.  Nothing brings so much pleasure than harvesting something that you grew yourself.  I can just see it now… me building a veggie stand for the end of our driveway and selling Juliet Tomatoes!  (now that would make a great blog post for sure!!)

ZUCCHINI 6-17-13

FLOWER GARDEN 6-17-13

And last but not least, every veggie gardener should also have a beautiful flower garden too!  This flower garden is definitely budding with almost everything ready to bloom any time now.  It is jammed packed with Bee Balm, Moon Beam Coreopsis, Russian Sage, Marigolds, Catnip (which the deer have grown quite fond of lately & ate half the bush!), lots of wild flowers, and if you look closely, you will see little pumpkins popping up all around this garden bed.  (The cement “GROW” stepping stone was made by me last year with a mold and sealed with cement sealer.  Beautiful!)

What do you have growing in your garden or flower beds?

CEMENT GROW STEPPING STONE

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!

GARDENER’S BEWARE: This Horn Worm Will Destroy Your Tomatoes

Hope you already had your breakfast because this bug will make you sick, if you find him in your garden!  Our neighbor brought over this ugly bug to show us last night on what he found on his prize tomato plants.  He was in his garden and ran upon this ugly guy on his tomato branch and freaked out, and for good reason.  Not only is this bug ugly, he will take down your tomato plants – and if there is one, there are many more.

We did some research last night to find out more about this Horn Worm and this is what we found:

Tomato hornworms are known to eat various plants from the family Solanaceae, commonly attacking tomato, eggplant, pepper, tobacco, moonflowers and potato.  They are often found on defoliated tomato plants, the caterpillar clinging to the underside of a branch near the trunk.  They are difficult to spot due to their green coloration.  Gardeners’ anecdotes have mentioned the use of a blacklight to find the hornworms on tomato plants at night, where they glow under the ultraviolet.  They can be reduced by planting marigold flowers around these plants.

Hornworm eggs are spherical to oval in shape, measure about 1.5 mm (0.059 in) in diameter, and vary in color from light green to white.  Eggs are deposited principally on the lower surface of foliage, but also on the upper surface. Duration of the egg stage is two to eight days, but averages five days.

The tomato hornworm is a green caterpillar, with seven light-green v-shaped markings which extend from the dorsal line to its sides.  At the rear end, the caterpillar has a red, bumpy horn, from which the name for the “hornworm” is derived.  Nine spiracles (colored black and yellow) appear on each side of the body and are used for respiration.  Caterpillars can be prey to parasitoid wasps of the family Braconidae.

During the summer months, moths will emerge from pupae in about two weeks. Moths emerge from the soil, mate, and then begin to deposit the eggs of the next generation on tomato plants.  By early fall, the pupae will remain in the soil all winter and emerge as a moth the following spring.

So, if you happen upon any of these in your garden, remove them immediately and look for the white looking larva that they have left on the underside of your leaves as this will produce more of these butt ugly bugs!