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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Renewing My Heart for Gardening

It’s been a while since I posted about the garden. I guess maybe that says a lot about it right there.

We had a lot of trouble with the water situation here. Following the instructions in “Square Foot Gardening”, and on many seed packets, we upped the watering from once to twice a week – it’s not like we didn’t realize it was hot.

But the plants still wilted and did not thrive.

Trying to get out there before the sun got up and water became an even bigger challenge when we went away over Memorial Day weekend to visit family, and then Nick start a youth internship that required us to make a lengthy round-trip drive to drop him off early every day.

We broke down and bought a sprinkler and a timer, like these:

The cheapest timers are “shut-off timers”, just designed to turn off your sprinkler after a set time, so you don’t forget about it and leave it running all day. Then most of the other timers you see are big, elaborate, expensive gizmos designed to run your whole sprinkler system.

But I did find just what I needed, and it has been a lifesaver.

We set up a timer and sprinkler like the ones above to come on every day at 4 am and water for 10 minutes. I have no idea if it would be optimal to have somewhat more or less water, but this at least seems to be working.

We’re certainly had some success, and our cucumbers are thriving!

But so many things are just not working. At all.

I’m willing to accept that this year is a learning experience – in fact, that was the plan. But I don’t feel like I’m learning much, because in most cases I don’t know what I could do differently.

At the time the radishes should have been ready, according to the calendar, we pulled on up and it was nothing more than a thick pace in the root.

We figured that he had not had enough water, but that perhaps with a little more time – now that we had the sprinkler thing worked out – they would mature nicely.

Then one day we woke up to this:

Ladies and gentlemen, the Radish Forest! That’s a bad picture – you can’t easily tell that they’re three feet tall and have flowers on top.

Now, granted, this didn’t actually happen overnight.

But it did happen during the period of discouragement when we didn’t get out to the garden enough…

The butternut squash gave me the one squash in the first picture. The vine continues to grow wildly, and I trim it to stay within its boundaries. There is some yellowing. I wonder if it’s still not getting enough water?

The summer (crook-neck) squash is NOT happy about being trained up the frame, and has steadfastly refused to produce any squash.

The tomatoes (two plants, shown here) seem to be delighted to be growing up the frame… But have also yet to produce a single fruit.


My lovely bush-beans have largely died off. I’m thinking this may be, at least in part, because we didn’t harvest them enough, for that while.

The blueberries are not thriving.

The woman at the Farmer’s Market who sold them to me said they they could go another year or two in the pots they were in, so (since we’re renting) I haven’t transplanted them.

I have no idea why they’re so unhappy. About half the branches seem pretty healthy, and about half look totally dead.

The watermelon never did sprout again, after being replanted from the first “eaten off at the stalk” episode.

The corn is over all just kind of runty. Only bout half the plants came up, and only about half of them even tried to grow an ear of corn.

This is my carrot garden.

Yeah, what’s that… two carrots? And they just recently came up – weeks and weeks later than expected, and hiding under the marigolds.

Next to this area you can see is a big (for my garden) expanse of bare earth, full of carrot seeds that didn’t.

I have no idea what to make of that, either.

The strawberry plants are healthy, but of course no longer producing – and what they did produce the ants ate before we could.

So, there you have it, my garden.

I know I’m at fault for many of these problems, simply due to getting discouraged and leaving things along too long…

But it’s those other things. It’s frustrating to not understand the problem, or the solution. I couldn’t do any better next year, then!

More fertilizer? Toxic chemicals? Eeew!

I just don’t know…


Another Day in the Garden

Okay, let’s start off with the bad news.

We’re still struggling with the aphids.

Dish washing soap solution and DE seemed to get it all under control… Only to have them back in full force a few days later. Ack!

Strawberry plants are healthy and productive – but we’re not getting any.

I don’t know enough to know if it’s something wrong, or just our ant problem, or what. But they get gone before they get ripe.

And now, something seems to be digging… Especially in the onions. Bird? Beast?

Oddly, it doesn’t look like they actually took anything, so it seems pretty weird.

I didn’t need any help to have a miserable time with the lettuce.

The two on the right came up nicely, while the two on the left didn’t.

I replanted the left pair a couple of weeks down the road, and one has come up as a runty bit. The fourth remains.

Of the two that came up so prettily in the first wave, one has suddenly and mysteriously (at least to me) keeled over dead.


Okay, enough of that. Let’s move right along to the good news, shall we?

The climbers on the back row are all doing quite well. (The replanted watermelon is a bit behind, but still perky).

Here, for example, is our lovely budding summer squash vine:

And, totally out of the blue, there are … BEANS!

Bush beans. Which were apparently sneaky enough to totally be missed on garden day Monday, although it’s true that the kids watered while I was transplanting some new friends.

Rather than waiting for something bad to happen, I do believe I’m going to pick them, steam them a little, then enjoy them for dinner with the kids…

Garden Update: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Well, our little garden is just over a month old, and there’s a lot going on!

The Good

Wolf is putting up the trellis frames. since our little plants are getting tall enough to need the encouragement. We’re using salvaged pipe for the sides, and a pressure-treated board across the top, then I’ll tie the guides with twine.

We also removed the “grids” we’d made to keep our square feet separated until the plants were visible enough to be able to tell. Did I mention that those were made from foraged cane that we cut in a vacant lot down the street?

We also have some happy recent additions to the garden.

This little herb garden (four different varieties of basil, plus dill) is from the over-abundance of sprouts a 4H friend was trying to adopt out.

We also have a baby Blue Spruce tree, courtesy of Lowes’ Earth Day promotion.

And look at the pretty little flowers my bush beans have sprouted:

The Bad

Yeah, nice, huh? That is… or was… my watermelon plant.

Not quite sure where to go with that one.

The Ugly


The aphids apparently really think Thomas Jefferson’s cowpeas are tasty.

Obviously, I’m not running out to grab any toxic chemicals to spray on the little nasties. I’m looking into diatomaceous earth, as well as some essential oil options, thanks to suggestions from my wise gardener friends on Facebook. I’ll keep you posted…

A Tour of Our Garden

[Post and photography by Nick]

We were gardening yesterday, and I got a little trigger-happy with the camera.

This is our garden.


These are the first strawberries our plant has produced.


This is the first corn sprout we’ve seen.


This is the first lettuce sprout.


This is our mixed onion and garlic patch, with the bush beans visible through them.


These are our black-eyed peas, with the onions visible behind them, and my sister visible behind them. I like the forest effect the onions make.


These are our potatoes.


This is another onion forest picture, with the strawberries visible behind them.


So, here’s some of my photography. I’ve done most of the pictures of the garden, and just wanted to show some of my more superfluous pictures.

April DIY – Start a Food Garden

Remember January’s list of 12 DIY Projects to Try in 2011 – one for each month?

Here’s what has happened so far:

Whoohoo! Did it!

If you search for post by the Topic of Gardening, you can see our plan, our raised beds, and our sprouting seedlings.

Now, if I can just get the car to stop breaking down, so I’m comfortable investing the the chai spices…

We Have Sprouts!

Because we don’t know what we’re doing with this whole “gardening” project, we put almost all of our seeds in the ground at once. It was late enough for even the most delicate plants to be safe from frost, so there was nothing holding us back.

Usually, of course, some of these things could have been planted long since. Since we are well past our “last frost” date, we are probably as much as a month behind on getting started.

Also, both “square foot” and “row” gardeners would ideally have on hand some framed covers, to keep your newest plantings protected from harsh weather.

Well, we were called to task for all of our un-preparedness at one time, when the weather forecast came in for two days of thunderstorms last week.

We didn’t have ANY covers made… and even if we had, we certainly wouldn’t have had enough to cover ALL of our plants!

So, we improvised.

We turned a paint bucket upside-down over the strawberry plant, to protect it as the only thing above-ground.

Then we covered the beds with whatever we could scrounge out of the garage – the rain flap from a pup tent, the tarp-like top of a screen room, etc. The edges were weighted down with the pipes that were standing by to become trellises.

After two days of worry, we were able to uncover the beds.

The strawberry plant is growing happily, producing new flowers, and even its first baby berry!

Most of the other plants we have to no way to “check on,” but the beds look undisturbed, so we have to hope things are still developing well.

We do have our first shoots peeking up – onions…

…and a teeny, tiny marigold!

It’s reassuring to know for sure that at least something is growing!

God’s Jewels

The dew on the strawberry leaves gathers into sparkling little droplets on the tip of each point. Amazing!

Click the image to see it bigger… Although it still doesn’t do it justice.

Seeds Away!

The first things in the ground were the strawberries. Since they came as a plant, we went ahead and put them in the ground Friday evening after we brought them home.

Seeds we wanted to do in the morning, which left out Saturday (4H meet for Nick) and Sunday (Church), so we geared up to go as the start of a new week…

The larger seeds I set to soak before everyone was even out of bed, and we all had a fun time putting most of our garden in the ground.

We planted:

  • Watermelon
  • Summer Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Onion
  • Potato
  • Garlic
  • Shallot
  • Horseradish
  • Nasturtiums
  • Tomato
  • Butternut Squash
  • Bush Bean (half)
  • Pepper
  • Lettuce (half)
  • Carrot (one quarter)
  • Marigolds

The Bush Beans, Lettuce, and Carrots we are staggering, so that the harvest will be spread out.

We also had not yet received our Corn and Cowpeas, which just arrived.

I have two squares marked out for Spinach, but in getting down to the details for each plant I realized that it was too late to plant spinach, a cool-weather crop, for a late-spring or early-summer harvest. We’ll have to hold off, and plant what would normally be the second wave of spinach – planted after the worst of the summer heat, and harvested later in the fall.

Maybe there’s something I can do with those squares in the meantime – perhaps I’ll look up the beets and radishes from the seed assortment, which I had not planned to grow.

Dig the Dirt

Garden Plotting

Using the Square Foot Gardening method, we’ve decided to go with two squares, plus a third square with just sweet corn.

Nick has made me up a lovely Visio garden layout diagram, so that we can think things through now, and keep track of what we did for future planning.

Here’s what I’m thinking so far:

What do you think?

I’m waiting on the corn and cowpeas I ordered from Monticello (yeah, we’re going to grow the plants from which Thomas Jefferson ate – how fun is that?), but other than that we have everything listed here ready to go…

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