Saturday, August 8, 2009

Update on my garden

Hello everyone...I hope you are enjoying your summer as much as I've been. I've been busy with other things in my life...always meaning to get back to my blog, but not quite making it.
One of things I've done is visit a friends was so bountiful....and I thought I was doing well. Yes I have lots of tomatoes, but most of them are cherry tomatoes...small. I musn't be so hard on myself....I know. I am realistic and realize that my soil is not up to par with the years of sheep manure and leaf mold she has on me. I will get there. So...two days later after visiting my friend, I dragged my husband and a large bucket to the university to pick up manure. Up to this point, it had been bagged manure from the local garden shop and I believe I didn't add enough. So I added the freshly obtained manure to the compost and two days later when I checked was steaming hot. Yes!
So I just want to add...that despite the lack of major abundance and some failures(cucumber plant died, poor developing corn, infested cabbage) my garden has been a source of enjoyment and education. I can now identify what an eggplant plant looks like...or what flowering zucchini bud will produce a zucchini....I've had the experience which I lacked. All that I had learned...I learned from a book and now I have been able to put it together with experience.
So here are some pictures I want to share:
My bush bean...kept from spilling over into the next square with a makeshift tepee. I've harvested some and steamed them. They were tough...too bad. I won't give up on them. It must have been something I did or didn't do.

My strawberry plant...she has produced some off springs and has a couple more flowers.

I picked up these little grape seedlings from a generous soul on freecycle. I'm going to transfer them to the coldframe when it starts getting cold. Hopefully they will make it.

I've started some broccoli and kale seedlings....ready for my fall garden.
The brown spots on the leaves are just organic fertilizer stains.

I have some swiss chard growing in the back right hand corner. In the foreground a pumpkin plant gifted to me from a friend. And in the left side, potato plants. They look like they are dying but I'm told to keep watering till they are dead....that will produce bigger potatoes.

I sowed some bok choy seeds under these mosquito covers. I would like to plant two more boxes of bok choy, but I will wait till the kale and broccoli plants bolt....if that happens.

Kale, broccoli and beets in the foreground.


Another eggplant. This plant and the one pictured about came from the same packet of seeds...they must have had a couple varieties in them.

My pole beans don't look so healthy and they haven't produced. I'm wondering if I should leave them there or just pull them out and plant some fall crops there.

Lemon boy tomatoes.....these have been divine! When I make my salads, I usually add lemon, olive oil and salt. With these lemon boys you'll want to leave out the make them to acidic tasting....just olive oil and salt is plenty.
Some swiss chard. I do treat them like cut placing them in a jar of water till they are ready to be steamed...otherwise they wilt so quickly. Makes me think of those greens in the grocery store that look sooo perky for days. Hmmm....what's in them?

The harvest of three squarefoot boxes. Next year, God willing, I'm planning on making some sides for the squares so that I can add height and keep adding soil and increase my harvest. I had had too many projects going on this spring for me to do this year.

The largest potato I weighed one pound.

My beets....they were small yet delicious.

Thank you for stopping by. Have a great day!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

dehyrating some herbs

This potted tomato plant was a sucker on one of my plants. I had failed to spot it growing out from the soil, no wonder the main branch wasn't growing as quickly. Usually I kept my eye on the area between the mainstem and the side shoots ready to pinch off those suckers, but this one ecaped my sight and I'm glad it did. I rooted and planted it and now my friend has a yellow pear tomato plant of her own.
Last evening my child harvested some vegetables for dinner. The one swiss chard leaf was hers. I asked her if she wanted more than one...shes like no mom... ones enough. So I steamed it and sprinkled it with olive oil, lemon and salt. She said it was her favorite.

This morning I decided to dehydrate some herbs from the garden. I filled three trays with spearmint leaves. Under a couple of leaves I found some eggs attached. I didn't kill them or dispose of them as I would have in the past. I held on to them to placed back in the same area. Hopefully when they hatch they will be insects that are beneficial to the garden.

I also harvested some basil(purple variety) and filled two trays. I hope the bushes will grow back and give me enough for a second cutting. I placed my five trays in the dehydrator and set the temp. at 105F. When they are completely dry I will transfer them to labeled mason jars and have them available for cooking. I love to make split pea soup with lots of basil, pepper and salt. Simple yet delicious.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

another garden update

Lately I've been planning out my fall garden...not that I'm through with my spring/summer that is far from the truth. We've been enjoying generous helpings of kale and swiss chard....and when I felt that I couldn't even think about having them for dinner again. I would snip them off and give them to my neighbors. The lettuce...I've been most impressed with. So delicious...I couldn't think of having store bought lettuce after having fresh ones from the garden. And that is why I'm planning my fall garden. I used to think a short garden season was such downfall...oh...not true because I get to look forward to all the cool season crops.
Anyways. I'm planning to dedicate a whole box 4ftx4ft to lettuce. Yes we'll be able to have many varieties... plenty of tom thumbs, bibbs, mesclun baby greens and deer tongue red.
Everything else in the fall garden will have a 1/4 of a box dedicated to each vegetable.
Yesterday I purchased a bag of soil to start my seedlings and within the next couple of days I will be starting my broccoli.
My mesclun greens shaded with a cloth to keep from bolting.
Three corn "heads" coming through.
Tomatoes on the vine. I counted over one hundred tomatoes on the vines. We've been harvesting 2 or 3 tomatoes every couple of days. I think we'll be bursting at the seams with tomatoes here pretty soon. I'm planning on making some sun-dried tomatoes.

We'll be having the ones towards the bottom for dinner this evening.

The broccoli rabe plants I had drying by the bench have completely dried. When you shake the pods the seeds rattle inside. I harvested many to fill a small packet. I placed the dry arrangement in a vase and it's still loaded with seeds. So if any of my local neighbors would like some let me can come by and get some pods.

By the way I got the template for the seed packet in the picture from a book called "You Grow Girl" by Gayla Trail. A chic modern gardening guide book with lots of gardening crafts ideas .

Sunday, July 5, 2009


I've been feeling guilty again for not blogging all the work I've done in the garden. Part of the reason....I changed my password and then when I went to sign on a few days later, I realized that I had forgotten my password after a few tries. So with a few quirks here and there and some distractions ...I never made it back to my blog till now. So here I go:

Spring has gone along with my broccoli rabe and peas. The pea stems and leaves went into the compost, but the broccoli rabe has a new life for now. As you will see it is hanging upside down drying and loaded with dry seed pods which I will pass on to friends. The stalks are too pretty to discard yet...I will place them in my tall blue vase to display as a dry arrangement. For now my vase holds arugula from my friends garden that has bolted. I also plan to harvest those seeds.

I recently made a propagating pot to root cuttings. I used a small clay pot and a larger glazed one(you can use a plastic one if you like and it can have drainage holes, mine doesn't though), some vermiculite and a pencil eraser head, cuttings and water. I plugged the inner clay pot with an eraser head and it sealed it perfectly. You don't want the the water draining out of the want it perspiring out through the pores of the clay pot. Then I add some rocks to the bottom of the bigger pot and then some vermiculite enough so that I can still place my clay pot inside it and filled the area around the clay pot with enough vermiculite. I then saturated the vermiculite with water using a watering can and made sure it was moist and I filled my clay pot with water. I added rosemary, lavender, petunia and chamomile cuttings and it's been about a week and the cuttings still look healthy. I'm very pleased with this system because I don't have to be so vigilant about watering it.

Lately I've been reading "Inner Gardening...A Seasonal Path to Inner Peace" by Diane Dreher and I must say I've been enjoying's romantic and intellectual. She shares bits of her life and those around her , lessons about gardening and cultivating friendships and more, the history of gardening including poems, quotes and more. This book makes me want to reach out to my friends more often.

broccoli rabe

Arugula arrangement.

Propagating pot

my garden helper

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Composting tool and vegetables

In the following pictures I'm demonstrating my new composting aerator tool. It consists of handles with a long metal rod which has horizontal folding rods on the bottom, designed to puncture down into the different layers of decomposing material, loosen, mix, and as a result help decompose faster by providing oxygen deep inside. Prior to having this tool I couldn't get my husband to turn the pile...well it was work...and hard on the back. I felt bad asking him to do it ...that's why it got done only once this season;however, with this new tool...I couldn't get him to give it back to me. He said he was helping me...but I couldn't get him to help "before tool." My analysis was that he really liked it. Here I am in the picture...but of course he already worked on the pile for about 5minutes.
The bottom half of the tool....and I almost bought a pitchfork instead. Whew...I don't think a pitchfork would have been as easy as this this tool was only 19.99 compared to what a new pitchfork goes for... about$50-60 dollars. So now my favorite compost bin is this black one. The green tumbler is still nice but smaller...this black one is much bigger and the pile has been running hot. One thing I don't like about the tumbler is that if you don't have the right amount of browns to greens(3to1) you can end up with lots of compost "balls".
These onions I harvested today are the product of the onion end piece I had thrown into the compost and I found sprouting and so I ended up planting them in the box. I had a picture of these growing in the snow on a previous entry. Aren't they pretty. I harvested them because the onion stalks had fallen over...and I had read that that is when you harvest them...but I found out from a farmer at the farmers market that once the stalk fall over you can keep them in the ground longer and that is when they gain size. She much prefers them this size because they are sweeter. I can't wait to try them.

Peas in the pod. Sweet as can be. They don't usually make it to the house. They get eaten right on the the garden.

We had this swiss chard for dinner. We loved it. Compared to kale, swiss chard is tender and has a mild flavor. I will plant more of this in the fall.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Garden Update

Hello it's time for a garden update. Lots of plants growing. The picture below has potato plants taking over. I've had to trim some stems/leaves because they were starting to block the sun from the peppers. The potato leaves have some holes in them and I haven't bothered treating the problem because it's not that bad. Maybe a potato box will be in order for next year.
Swiss Chard is thriving.
Just one of my tomato plants. Most of them have tomatoes with the exception of the Black Krim which I started later and the newly rooted ones which were suckers to begin with. This trellis system works really well with the squarefoot garden. So far it is holding the tomato plants up really well.

I harvested some dark rich worm castings a few days ago for some squash plants a neighbor gave me. They were starting to yellow....the castings did the trick.
Fresh cut roses. They usually last about a week in the vase changing the water frequently and re cutting. I may just have fresh roses on the table till frost.

Currently I'm in a state of happy gardening bliss. I can't help it. It's so beautiful and lush and I can't really capture all the beauty with this camera. The flowers integrated in and around the vegetable garden have really embellished it. I do however have some vegetables that I won't be planting broccoli rabe...too bitter even cooked. I'll be giving those seeds away. My cabbage has leaves but no head yet, plus I'm not really a fan of them. I will dedicate 1/2 a box to lettuce next time(like this fall) and maybe one more kale plant(six total). Kale is like lettuce...cut and come again. I have other aspirations for my garden but I'm in the brainstorming stage. We'll see what the future brings.
Till next time.

P.S I wish I could have more than five pictures per post but I haven't figured out how to do it yet.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Out in the country

Today we spent the day in the country....beautiful Nevada country. Along the way we saw curious deer that seemed to think we were interesting....they raced along our vehicle for awhile before leaping across our path. Somehow I was expecting that to happen and we were ready for it. No collisions or derailments occurred and we managed to make it our friend's ranch.
At our friends 100acre ranch the kids fed the chickens, mingled with the horses, rode the quad around the property and stopped by the creek to catch tadpoles and watched lizards do push-ups(part of their breathing process)....such a beautiful place. We had a fabulous lunch. Our friend made delicious spinach casserole. I'm sure she used the eggs from her very own chickens. I kept going back for more. In the end I was delighted to be gifted a bag of composted horse manure and ashes for the garden. Oh the things that make me happy these days.

The roosters in the pictures have no tails. Plucked out by the "females"...chickens. I thought that was interesting. I felt sorry for them. I thought they looked funny with their bottoms exposed.
Along the way we stopped by a wild horse adoption center. So many beautiful horses and colts available.

We arrived home hungry and tired. I thought it would be nice to have some soup. I needed some beans and I didn't have any canned ones. So I took out the pressure cooker and cooked a mixture of garbanzo, black and pinto beans for about 35 minutes. Then I added some kale from the garden, some pasta and seasonings. favorite soup.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

as my garden grows

Today I fertilized, weeded and did some planting in the garden. Mostly everything looks pretty good, except my swiss chard is starting to look like swiss cheese...lots of holes. I will try bunched up moist newspaper to put at the base and see if the culprit little bugs hide in there.
I think by broccoli rabe has bolted. It sent up a tall shoot with flowers. I will wait and see if I can find seeds to harvest for another crop.
Today I discovered that I have some peas. I was standing in front of them and I couldn't even see them at first. I just stood there and stared and the longer I looked the more seemed to pop out at me. They are so well camouflaged. The peas in the pod look like little bumps not much in size. I'm hoping that with time they will grow. I've never grown peas before.
Today I added two more tomato plants to my garden and no I didn't go out and buy anymore of them. They were suckers that I had removed from my other plants. I placed them in a cup with water and let them sit on my windowsill.... in about five days they rooted. It's still amazing to me.
Some sunflowers growing. The tall thin plant is a hardy hibiscus I started from seed.
I planted a pickling cucumber plant today which I bought at a nursery. Cucumbers aren't really popular in my household but I wanedt to fill a space in my garden and also learn about how cucumbers grow. I can always share with my neighbors.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Soil test and more

Yesterday I tested my soil with a soil kit. It was a little tricky trying to decide where my samples fell as far as the colors on the comparison chart. I called the cooperative extension and they suggested a soil test they perform for $10dollars and it takes about a week or so to get the results. They weren't confident with the accuracy of the home soil tests. Well, now I know. For the most part the soil was adequate on all except the nitrogen. It came out as deficient which explains why the bottom older leaves on my kale, tomatoes, eggplant and such are yellow. I do have homemade compost and most of it is in small lumps(it don't think the plants are going to be able to absorb the nutrition it needs from them). I fed them miracle grow vegetable fertilizer about four days ago and I believe they quickly absorbed it but the soil is still deficient. I also sprinkled some worm castings around the plants, but I don't have enough to really work it in the soil. I think I will head over to the nursery and pick up some bloodmeal and mix it in the dirt around the plants. This fall, I will be mixing in some major compost, leaves and some manure in the soil.

What do you, my fellow bloggers, as a fertilizer maintenance do(if anything) to keep your plants adequately nourished?
Thank you

I have some more pictures to share:

The pole beans are surfacing. I can't wait till they start to trail up the trellis.

Above are some bush beans.

Some corn.

Radishes, breakfast variety.

If you look closely at the beet greens, there are yellow/orange vines growing up the the stems. What is anomaly? Does anybody know?