Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘garden planning’ Category

At the beginning of August, my broccoli and cauliflower sprouts were getting big enough that I thought they needed an “upgrade” from their yogurt cups to some larger containers.

broccoli and cauliflower in yogurt cups before transplanting to larger containers

I decided to try out making newspaper pots (as found in Plant Grow Harvest Repeat by Meg Cowden <–aff link). I got some full sheets of newspaper from a neighbor and folded up six to try. It was fun to fold them, and I think they are a nice size. I might try them again in the future as I start seeds!

broccoli and cauliflower after transplanting into newspaper pots on August 3, 2022

After transplanting they went back under the grow lights for a few more weeks.

broccoli and cauliflower under the grow lights, August 3, 2022

At the end of the month, I started “hardening off” these seedlings to prep them for planting out in the garden… but instead of getting them ready for cooler temperatures, I wanted to prevent them from being shocked by the hot weather and sun! I started them under our deck umbrella the first day, and then I gradually increased their time in the sun.

Starting to harden off the broccoli and cauliflower, August 30, 2022

Meanwhile, the outdoor garden continued to flourish.

The asters bloomed! It was so interesting to watch them progress to full bloom. The petals start almost white and clenched like a fist, and then gradually the unfurled petals reveal the color of the flower.

pink aster bud, August 10, 2022
purple aster starting to bloom, August 10, 2022
pink aster mid-bloom, August 10, 2022
pink and purple asters on either end of my garden, August 15, 2022
bright pink asters, August 15, 2022

Somewhere or other, I read or heard that asters should be pruned back at some point before they bud to encourage fuller growth and more blooms. However, I heard this information far too late for this season! I am hoping to plant them again for next year, so I’ll need to remember to read more about that for the future!

The marigolds continued to bloom and the plants grew into huge bushes!

marigold blooms, August 10, 2022
marigold bushes! August 15, 2022

I need to remember to plant them into bigger containers next year. They were definitely too crowded in the low, long planters I used, and they ended up being top-heavy (more on that in September’s post). I really should plant just one per container. It would make them easier to move around the plot, as well.

I let my oregano and mint go to flower, since I wasn’t really using them as much in my cooking.

mint flowers
oregano flowers

I don’t have photos of the parsley and basil, but you can be sure I was using them! Parsley is probably my favorite herb, and I probably used it at least once per day! I love being able to step outside and clip some stalks to cut into my meals.

In preparation for cooler weather (whenever it comes! August was HOT HOT HOT!), I planted some peas on August 6 that I’d saved from my Mammoth Melting Sugar Pea plants in the spring.

Mammoth Melting Sugar Peas ready to plant, August 6, 2022

Since the container in the spring seemed small for one plant, I chose a longer planter for fall. I was excited to use some of my first batch of compost from my tumbler! I think it was ready, so I took it out and used it under the layer of soil from the smaller pea container.

using part of my first batch of compost under my fall pea planting! August 6, 2022

By August 11 (five days later), all three peas had sprouted! I am delighted that my seed-saving was successful! The peas grew fast. I’ve positioned them at the shadiest end of the garden so that they can have as much relief from the heat as possible.

We watched eagerly throughout the month to see the watermelon grow…

Jubilee watermelon plant, August 10, 2022

…but it didn’t grow quite as much as I hoped/expected! I was hoping that it would be ready before school started, but I don’t think it’s ready yet… Check back in September!

I was delighted that fertilizing + some vigorous pruning (learned from The Rusted Garden on Instagram) seemed to encourage the Beit Alpha cucumber vine to start producing again. I also learned about the possibility of succession-planting cucumbers, so I want to give that a try next year.

harvesting a Beit Alpha cucumber, August 12, 2022

I was also excited to see peppers forming on the plants I grew from seeds saved from Costco peppers! They were a complete experiment, and so I’m looking forward to seeing what the fruit is like (the original peppers were probably hybrids, so I definitely have no idea what to expect!).

Costco experimental peppers, August 27, 2022

My Most Beautiful sweet peppers continued to grow– I was impressed with the amount of fruit on the plants! I harvested a few while they were still green because I needed them for some recipes, but for the most part, I am waiting for them to turn red (I assume!) to harvest. The fruit is thin-walled and tastes good! They are much bigger and irregularly shaped than I was expecting!

“Most Beautiful” sweet peppers on the plant, August 24, 2022

We went on vacation in August, and I experimented with an idea I heard on a Joe Gardener podcast– I punched a few tiny holes (with a thumbtack) in the bottom of a milk jug so that it would slowly drain into the pot– leaving the cap on as suggested so that the water wouldn’t drip too quickly. I forgot to take an “after” photo– but it didn’t work that well! I should have left a little more ventilation at the top. Water did drip out, but eventually, such a vacuum was created inside the jug that it just crumpled on itself! There was still an inch or two of water at the bottom, even after a week!


milk jug drip irrigation experiment

The harvests were the biggest of the season this month– both in overall volume, but also because I set some personal records!

First: I think this is the largest tomato I have ever grown in one of my gardens:

Marmande tomato, August 9, 2022
quite possibly my biggest tomato that I’ve ever grown (so far…)

And I had a huge harvest of Sungold tomatoes:

biggest one-day harvest of Sungold tomatoes for the season, August 30, 2022

And an enormous harvest of purple cherry tomatoes! I’m surprised at how late this bumper crop came, but I am definitely not complaining!

look at all those purple cherry tomatoes waiting to be harvested! August 30, 2022
biggest one-day harvest of purple cherry tomatoes this season! August 30, 2022
purple cherry and Sungold tomatoes harvested August 30, 2022

In addition to the “records,” I just love seeing the variety of colors and textures!

harvest, August 2
harvest, August 4, 2022
harvest, August 9, 2022
harvest, August 10, 2022
harvest, August 15, 2022
harvest, August 24, 2022 (after a big prune following vacation)
harvest, August 30, 2022

We enjoyed the bounty, too! My daughter was on a mission to cook and bake as many recipes as she could from her personal cookbook library, and as often as possible, we used garden produce.

caprese pasta with chicken, August 4, 2022

I was so excited to finally get to make fresh salsa with tomatoes and a jalapeño from my own garden!

fresh salsa with tomatoes and jalapeño from the garden

And of course, we indulged in caprese as often as possible. The perfect summer lunch accompaniment.

caprese with garden-grown Brad’s Atomic Grape tomatoes and basil

I discovered this big toad in my garden one morning while I was weeding! I thought he was a rock, and then he moved– it was quite startling, I think both for me and him! I was glad to see him there the next day, too, so he must not have been too frightened.

toad, August 6, 2022

Three weeks later, I found him dug into my primrose pot!

toad, August 27, 2022

I made a better effort to get some photos of myself in the garden this month (my daughter helped me!) and this is one of my favorites:

Last but not least, how about some comparison views of the whole garden throughout the month:

The garden flourished this month, and I was out almost every day working to keep it pruned, tidy, and healthy.

Stay tuned for the September update!

Read Full Post »

When I was writing my monthly wrap-up posts for my garden last summer, I made a mental note to take photos of my whole garden plot several times per month from approximately the same angle so that I could do some visual comparisons. May was the month where we went fully outdoors with the garden, so I started the month with a “before” type shot:

Garden plot: 5/5/2022

At this point, I knew I wanted to increase the area of the garden plot, but I didn’t know how I would arrange everything after that, so you’ll see that I will change the perspective of these pictures once I had the layout settled!

The chives flowered profusely! I decided to leave the flowers so that I could collect seeds (more about that in an upcoming month’s roundup).

The arugula grew nicely, too!

arugula planter on 5/8/2022

I clipped my first few arugula leaves on May 10, and after that, I added it to salads and meals as often as I could!

first harvest of 2022! arugula on 5/5/2022 to garnish our quiche

It was also fun to watch the (lone) pea plant grow and start climbing the trellis.

Mammoth Melting Sugar Pea plant, 5/8/2022

The big exciting update to the garden was the expansion and planting out! Mother’s Day was cool and overcast, perfect for doing this kind of work.

My husband helped me double the footprint of the garden by shifting our low fence and adding weed-blocking cloth.

Husband helping to enlarge the garden plot. 5/8/2022

After the plot was prepped, we started arranging all the pots so that we could plant out all the seedlings and direct-sow the cucumber seeds!

seedlings ready for planting out, 5/8/2022
tomatoes ready to be potted into their big containers, 5/8/2022

It’s going to be a full garden plot!
10 containers of tomatoes
3 containers of peppers
3 containers of cucumbers
a variety of herbs
a variety of flowers
plus peas and arugula

You can see all the varieties I’ve planted in the 2022 garden in THIS blog post.

newly-enlarged garden plot, 5/8/2022

And that’s just the start! My plan is also to do some summer sowing indoors for some fall crops.

view of the newly-enlarged garden plot from another angle, 5/8/2022

Soon after the garden was planted out, I discovered that something was digging in my planters. The tomatoes were most affected; one of my purple cherry tomato plants was uprooted and many of its leaves chewed off, but I replanted it because tomatoes are resilient and it will likely grow back.
One of my Roma tomato plants was completely dug out and gone without a trace. I suspect squirrels; I also observed from my upstairs window a small bird vigorously wallowing in my pots and a chipmunk perusing my garden.

evidence of critter digging, May 15, 18, and 23

The digging critter issue was definitely frustrating because it kept happening. However, we got the trellises installed for the cucumbers to climb and Husband strung up the string fence to theoretically deter deer, stringing it through the trellises to give them more stability. I spotted some lemon cucumber sprouts and marigold sprouts from the direct-sown seeds.

a view of the growing and greening garden, 5/15/2022

I was super excited to see blooms on the Beit Alpha cucumber vine at the end of the month! This plant was given to me (started indoors) by a Buy-Nothing Group neighbor, and it has made me realize that I should be starting my cucumber seeds indoors to maximize the growing season (also, consider starting some more seeds later in the spring to do some succession planting??)

Beit Alpha cucumber plant, 5/28/2022

Another BN neighbor gifted me a jalapeño plant, and I’m delighted! It will be the perfect complement to the tomatoes I’m dreaming of turning into salsa! The neighbor was within walking distance, so I did a vigorous 3.3 mi round-trip workout to pick it up. Perhaps I looked a little silly power-walking with a young jalapeño plant, but I was so happy, I didn’t care, haha!

happy to have a jalapeño to add to my garden! 5/30/2022
comparison of garden plot, May 5 (left) and May 8 (right). I need to do better at taking these photos at regular intervals!

Read Full Post »

seedlings on April 2, 2022

I started the month with a tray full of seedlings– so many tomatoes!– and also by planting parsley seeds and some more romaine seeds. None of my romaine seeds ever sprouted, but I am so glad that the parsley eventually did (two weeks later)!

the garden plot on April 3, 2022. Top to bottom, left to right: Mammoth Melting Sugar Peas, Slow Bolt Arugula, oregano, chives, and mint.

On April 3, I direct-sowed some “slow-bolt” arugula. I am excited about possibly having some cool weather crops this spring (and sowing again for the fall, too!). I have big dreams of enlarging the garden plot, and I plan add mulch between all the containers to mitigate the weed issue. I am dreaming bigger this year, since last year’s garden was a pretty good success! I acquired a plastic trellis from a neighbor to support my future cucumber vines!

arugula sprout on April 8!

I spotted some arugula sprouts on April 8! Despite the critter digging that had started up (and continued!), most of the sprouts survived. It never gets old for me to see those sprouts come up and grow.

pea sprout! April 11, 2022

I finally spotted one pea sprout on April 11. It turned out that this was the only one that grew!

eight days after I first spotted the pea sprout– it’s growing quickly! April 19, 2022

As the weather got warmer and sunnier, I tried to take my seedlings outdoors for good light and hardening-off. I probably was a bit too eager, and I think that possibly a couple of my tomato seedlings got a bit sunburnt. I tried to gently shade them with some netting after I noticed that was happening.

sunbathing. April 11, 2022

On April 13, I decided that most of my tomato seedlings were ready for their first transplant. I took a time-lapse video of the process:

I ended up with so many seedlings, which was exciting, because it meant that the seeds were in good condition. I had been curious how well my seed-saving from last year would work (I saved seeds from the purple cherry and the Brad’s Atomic Grape). I decided to keep two of each variety for myself, and I gave away the rest.

5 Roma
6 purple cherry
7 Brad’s Atomic Grape
9 Marmande
…plus flower seedlings, herb seedlings, and a couple SunGold tomato seedlings that weren’t yet ready for transplanting.

As the month drew to a close, I was ready to transplant a few seedlings… and I ended up doing more than I expected, including some weeding in the garden plot. I decided to use the soil I’d dumped beyond the fence last fall, so I went up there to fill my pots so that I could transplant my snapdragon and aster sprouts, and I also transplanted my dill plant (which I’d started in the winter from seed on my windowsill) and some mint and oregano that I’d been given by a neighbor.

Of course, a few days later, it was cold enough at night that it dipped below freezing. I wrapped up my herbs and flowers under an old sheet to keep them a bit warmer, and they survived!

I covered my recently-transplanted herbs and flowers with a sheet because the forecast warned the temperature might dip below freezing.

At the end of the month, I had a smaller number of seedlings left in the corner of my kitchen near the back door/windows. So excited to plant these out next month!

five varieties of tomatoes, basil, parsley, primrose (I think), a Beit Alpha cucumber seedling (acquired after my first seedling snapped!), marigold, and Costco mystery peppers

Read Full Post »

This is a reference post to list all the vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers that I planted in my 2022 garden. Whenever possible, I have linked to the seed packet information (I have very generous neighbors in my local Buy-Nothing group, so almost all the seeds I planted were given to me through the group at a seed giveaway or plant party in early spring. I took photos of the packets from which the seeds came, since I didn’t take the whole packet)!

Tomatoes:
Marmande (from seed packet given to me by a neighbor)
Roma (seeds given to me by a neighbor)
Brad’s Atomic Grape (saved seed from last year’s garden)
purple cherry (saved seed from last year’s garden)
SunGold (seedlings/seeds given to me by a neighbor)

Peppers:
mystery peppers! (grown from seeds inside red/yellow/orange peppers I got from Costco– definitely an experiment.)
jalapeño (plant given to me by a neighbor)
“Most Beautiful” sweet peppers (two plants given to me by a neighbor)
Red Yolo Bell (seeds given to me by a neighbor) – these didn’t grow in my spring sowing

Cucumbers:
Beit Alpha (seedling given to me by a neighbor)
Lemon (seeds given to me by a neighbor)

Peas:
Mammoth Melting Sugar Peas (seeds given to me by a neighbor); saved seeds from spring planting to try planting in fall, too

Lettuce:
arugula, slow-bolt (seeds given to me by a neighbor); sowed in spring, will also sow for fall
romaine, red (seeds given to me by a neighbor) – these didn’t grow in my spring sowing

Watermelon:
Jubilee (seeds given to me by a neighbor) – these didn’t grow in my spring sowing but a subsequent sowing sprouted!
Sugar Baby (seeds from a packet I purchased for my 2011 garden! — multiple sowings did not grow)

Brassicas:
Waltham 29 Broccoli (seeds given to me by a neighbor) – sowed indoors in late June for fall planting
Snowball Self-Blanching Cauliflower (seeds given to me by a neighbor) – sowed indoors in late June for fall planting

Carrots:
Hybrid Early Carrots (seeds given to me by a neighbor) – have not sown these yet as of end of May.

Herbs:
basil, Genovese (seedling from a neighbor)
basil, sweet (started from seed given to me by a neighbor)
chives (overwintered from last year, plant was a divided portion from a neighbor)
dill (started from seed saved from last year’s garden)
mint (divided portion from a neighbor)
oregano (divided portion from a neighbor)
parsley, flat leaf (started from seed from a neighbor)

Flowers:
aster, Crego Mixed Colors (started from seed packet)
marigold (started from seed saved from last year’s garden; those plants were a gift from a neighbor)
snapdragon, Tetra Mixed Colors (started from seed packet)

Read Full Post »

Winter is my least favorite season, and so I love looking forward to the warmth and new life of spring. During the bleakness of January and February, I’m taking a look back at my garden in 2021 so that I can start making plans for 2022.

In this post, I’ll be reviewing some of the things I learned this year, sharing some harvest data, and starting to think about what I will do for the coming growing season in my little container garden plot.

CONTAINERS – Some of the containers in my garden are from the very first garden I ever grew! Over the years, I have continued to add more (and replace containers that have broken). In 2021, I purchased some inexpensive plastic planters for my tomatoes, and they were…okay. Midsummer, I discovered that one of them had gotten clogged, and Husband was able to pull off the attached saucer, which seemed to solve the problem and allow proper drainage. At the end of the year as I scrubbed all my pots, I pried off all the saucers, so I hope that they will be better for 2022. I would love to be able to grow more varieties of tomatoes and possibly give other things a try (for instance, bell peppers??), so I’m hoping to get my hands on even more containers for this coming garden. Note to self: this will likely mean increasing the footprint of my plot!

SOIL – I was very unimpressed with the Miracle-Gro Organic Potting Soil I used in 2021. I did not care for the texture; it seemed full of large woody chunks. I also did not realize that I would need to add fertilizer so frequently (not necessarily a fault of the soil, but I guess I expected organic soil to be nutrient-rich). I’m not sure what I’ll use in 2022, but I’m on the lookout for options. I dumped all the soil at the end of the growing season, because it didn’t seem like it was worth saving (so many roots from those big plants!), and I was concerned that disease (especially from the cucumber pots) might stick around and/or spread. One of the reasons my garden is in containers is because the soil in-ground is not in good shape. I go back and forth between wondering if I should be dumping my containers “in place” to start layering a fresh start in that plot… However, I like the “fresh start” each year in containers and that I don’t need to worry about rotating my crops or dealing with soil-borne pathogens in such a small space.

Now that I’ve discussed the basics of my garden, let’s get into what I grew. Since I am a nerd at heart, I kept a spreadsheet of my produce data throughout the season. Below is a chart that shows an overall glimpse of everything I grew. It’s not very informative on its own, since the cherry tomatoes dominate the numbers.

TOMATOES – I grew Best Boy, purple cherry heirloom, and Brad’s Atomic Grape tomatoes this past year. My favorite of these varieties was the Atomic Grape, because the flavor was delicious, plus they were so pretty! However, the fruit split so easily on the plant (even before fully ripe!), which also meant that it wasn’t very long lasting after harvest, either. The purple cherry tomatoes (seedlings from a neighbor) were wonderfully prolific from beginning to end of the season, and the flavor was good. Since both of these varieties are heirloom varieties, I saved some seeds so that I can try growing them again this year. The Best Boy tomatoes were definitely a disappointment. They seemed flavorless, and they didn’t produce very well until much later in the season, and even then, I had been hoping for more. Part of this may have been the fertilizer situation (definitely learning a lesson there!), but it’s not the first year I’ve been underwhelmed, so I won’t be growing this variety again. I would love to try some slicing tomato varieties known for their sweet flavor. I’ll be doing some research into this!

Interestingly, as you look at the individual charts below, it seems that late August and September were when the tomatoes were in highest production. I would have guessed it would have been a bit earlier, but I need to remember this in the future to have appropriate expectations for my harvests.

CUCUMBER – As I mentioned in a few of my monthly updates, I was extremely disappointed in the cucumber situation in my 2021 garden. I had intentionally planted more containers with cucumber vines, and I think this was the worst year I’ve ever had in terms of cucumber production. As I mentioned in the August summary, I first had issues because the soil needed more nutrients, and because of my past experience with other potting soils, I didn’t expect to have to add fertilizer! The graph below shows that the most cucumbers I got on any given date was five, and that was an anomaly! I don’t know what sort of disease or blight got to my vines (I tried looking things up, but nothing quite matched what I was seeing(, but it was devastating. I love cucumbers, so I’m hoping that I can do better in 2022.

NASTURTIUM – I loved having nasturtium in my garden. The leaves are such a pleasing shape, and the flowers are absolutely beautiful. I don’t care as much for the taste of them, but their visual beauty is enough for me! Midsummer was quite hot for them, and I probably should have been fertilizing the soil that I used in my containers last year, but the plants were spectacular as the summer came to a close. I collected and saved a number of seeds, and I’m hoping to grow them in addition to the leftovers from the original seed packet.

MARIGOLD – Marigolds were a surprise hit for me this year! I remember growing them when I was little (often for a Mother’s Day gift in Sunday School or something like that), and feeling fairly ambivalent toward them. The marigolds in my garden were a gift from a neighbor, and I just loved the color they brought! And they were huge! I also was delighted to watch all the different insects they attracted to my garden. I have plenty of seed saved up from the 2021 plants, and I will definitely be planting them again. I am considering adding multiple containers and even having some of the containers outside the perimeter of my garden as a wildlife deterrent. If the containers are smaller, they would be easy to move for lawn mowing.

HERBS – Quite possibly, my 2021 garden was the “herbiest” I’ve ever had! I grew basil, parsley, dill, and chives, as well as lavender. It was not a surprise that I LOVED having these fresh herbs available for my use, and I definitely intend to grow these herbs again in my 2022 garden (I even saved dill seeds from the 2021 plant). I’d like to figure out how to make my parsley more prolific, because of all the herbs, I use that in the largest quantities. I never did figure out how to propagate my lavender, and I would really like to know how to do that. I will admit that I just left the chives and lavender in their pots outdoors all winter. I am interested to see what happens, since both could be perennials. It is my hope to have a lavender bed in another part of my back yard. I just love the scent.

I’m already checking out container gardening books from the library and dreaming about the types of vegetables I’ll be growing in 2022. I’ll be checking my local extension office’s documents about seed starting dates and gearing up for the next growing season as soon as I can! Here’s to a prolific 2022!

Read Full Post »

I’m not a winter person. By the time Christmas comes, I have been ready for spring for about a month! 😉 As soon as we dismantled the garden in the fall, I was already dreaming about my 2021 garden, and I just haven’t stopped.

Recently, I saw some neighbors discussing winter sowing, which was a completely new concept to me. I did some research and I was intrigued. Basically, some seeds need to freeze+thaw and/or experience soaking in order to successfully germinate, and winter sowing is an easy way to enact that process with minimal involvement.

Here are some sites for additional reading, since I’m not an expert, but there are lots of more knowledgeable people sharing their expertise on the internet:
https://marylandgrows.umd.edu/2019/01/23/winter-sowing-how-i-get-a-jump-start-on-my-summer-flower-garden/
https://joegardener.com/podcast/130-winter-sowing/
https://thereidhomestead.com/how-to-grow-lavender-from-seed/

I particularly wanted to try this with lavender seeds that I’d received from a neighbor. She mentioned that stratification was necessary, but I don’t have the refrigerator real estate for that process. I contacted my local Extension, and they responded by saying that winter sowing would satisfy the conditions that stratification generates. They also recommended the first link that I shared above.

With this confirmation on February 15, I eagerly jumped in! While reading the comments on the Joe Gardener post, I got the idea to try germinating some (very old–the seed packet says 2011) parsley seeds that I had on hand from a previous garden in addition to my lavender seeds. My daughter took photos of the process for me!

I started by cutting open two empty (clean) plastic milk jugs; I left a small section uncut for a hinge and punched plenty of holes in the bottom for drainage.

Note: I made sure to label each carton with the type of seed I was starting. I not only labeled it on the top, but I also wrote it on the base of the jug so that if weather wore my writing away, it would hopefully still be on the bottom. In addition, I got fancy and used two colors of duct tape to distinguish the containers!

In an empty pot, I mixed about equal parts of seed starting mix with leftover potting soil, then wet it down– it’s what I had on hand! Thankfully from what I read, you don’t have to have all sterile seed starting mix for the winter sowing process.

I filled the bottom of each milk jug with the damp soil mixture…

Once the soil was in the cartons, I added the seeds on top.

these are the lavender seeds!

After sprinkling the seeds into the soil, I used duct tape to re-seal the jugs closed.

I set the jugs in my empty garden plot. The lids are off to allow for some air circulation, and they’ve weathered ice and snow. I’m really excited to see how these seeds will do!

Read Full Post »

Wow, I was so pleased with the garden in 2020!

The 2020 garden–back to containers, testing a “deer fence”– was essentially a trial. If it wasn’t successful, I was prepared to give up gardening for a while.

BUT.

BUT!!

I’d say it was a success!

May 23, 2020
July 3, 2020
August 4, 2020
August 31, 2020

Some quick thoughts:

  • Because the plants were in containers, the garden remained much tidier, with fewer weeds, and therefore I was more easily able to care for it. This meant that I (or my daughter) watered it almost every day (unless it rained), and the produce was good! (no sour cucumbers!)
  • The string deer fence seemed to work! I don’t know how the carrot greens got eaten at the end of the season, but that seemed to be the only thing that wildlife got this year. If all I need to do is plant carrots to divert animals away from my tomatoes and cucumbers, I will do it!
  • The cucumbers and tomatoes were delicious this year. Next year, I want to expand my garden to have even more tomato plants. I think the two pots of cucumber were sufficient for our family’s consumption, unless I want to try to make pickles!
  • The Tiny Tim tomato plant was prolific and tasted better than I remember in previous years, but it’s not my favorite. The tomatoes also seemed to go bad quickly–even while still ripening on the plant (and it was not blossom-end rot). If I have more seeds in the original packet, I might plant this variety again, but I will not buy these seeds again.

I started writing this post back in September, but I got bogged down with homeschooling, and so I didn’t get a chance to chart my produce production like I’d hoped. I’m glad that I recorded the reflections above!

Stay tuned: I’m deep in the preparations for this year’s garden, and I’m so excited!

Read Full Post »

Now we had some seedlings growing, and not much of a plan to do anything with them. But it’s always been a dream of mine to have a successful garden.

If you’ve followed this blog for a long time, you might recall that the garden plot that we have here in our current location (MD) has not been very successful. I think that there are some major problems with the soil, and add in a veritable menagerie of local wildlife (we have deer, rabbits, squirrels, foxes (yes, I know they’re not herbivores, but they’re still around), groundhogs, and who knows what else!) that persists in eating the garden produce just before I harvest it, and the fact that last summer I was dealing with ankle issues, and it has all added up to a disappointing track record for this garden.

So this year, I have a new game plan.

I think.

At least, we’re going to try it.

I have decided that I prefer container gardening, after trying in-ground gardening here and in upstate NY. This year, I’m going back to container gardening, and we’re testing out a few things to protect the garden from deer, especially.

After an extensive discussion with Husband, we have decided to reconfigure the garden plot and change our fencing strategy. The old plot (you can see it here at the beginning of last weekend, with the chickenwire fence removed and weeds mowed down) was 8′ wide by 15′ long.

After mowing around it for years, Husband decided that he would vastly prefer it to go all the way up to the corner of the house (the right side of this photo) to close that gap.

We decided to remove the chickenwire fencing we’d been using and use some black plastic fencing material that we already had on hand to create a low fence that would be easier to maintain (the weed-whacker would get tangled in the chickenwire and so the weeds were unpleasantly bushy at the corners and along the sides of the old garden. Husband cut it lengthwise because we wanted it low enough for us to step over it.

We had thought that we had enough of this black material to completely fence in the “new” 8’x20′ plot, but we didn’t. So we made the garden narrower– the footprint is now 4’x20′.

Since I was only planning to have a small number of containers, this isn’t a problem, and if this configuration turns out to work well, we can adjust in the future. (This is basically becoming a test year– will these measures to prevent wildlife from eating our garden be enough to make it worth having a garden?)

After lying fallow for a year, there were a lot of weeds to clear. I attempted to use our tiller tool, but it was getting so tangled that I just attacked it by hand.

Once the weeds were cleared in the new garden footprint, Husband began installing our little fence. He dug a trench so that we could bury the bottom 5″ or so. There are also taller supports for our deer fence (more information on that coming up below).

We put down Vigoro Weed Control Fabric over the entire plot, tucking it into the trench Husband had dug for the low fence. We are hoping that it is effective, especially since we won’t be cutting holes into it to plant in-ground. I will be putting mulch in, as well, but I haven’t bought it yet! (That’s a project for this weekend!)

My container set up is pretty modest this year. I had three terra-cotta pots that have survived since my original 2007 garden, as well as some other large pots that I’ve acquired over the years. I filled them with potting soil and started planting. The first priority was getting my tomatoes out into the containers, and I also brought our pot of carrots into the garden enclosure. Any extra soil would be used to plant cucumbers from seed. Using potting soil completely circumvents the issues that we seem to have with the in-ground soil in this garden plot. (P.S. I’ll be adding stakes and trellises for the tomatoes and cucumbers after I add the mulch.)

In the end, (after a lot of reconfiguring the order of my containers, haha!) we have six containers. On the left, there are two pots with two different cucumber varieties, planted from leftover seeds I’d stashed away from old gardens (Ferry-Morse Tendergreen and Burpee Pepino/Salad Slicer). Next come three tomato containers: a smaller square pot of Tiny Tim and two large terra cotta pots with the Best Boy seedlings. To the right of them, I placed the pot with our carrots.

Finally, we installed the deer fence. After talking to some neighbors and doing some research online, I found a University of Maryland Extension blog post that confirmed that the idea of fishline or similar cord strung between supports could actually work to protect the plants from nosy deer. Husband found some bright orange twisted mason line that we’re using to test the idea. Husband lashed some of my tall tomato stakes to the shorter metal stakes that support the black fencing so that we would just reuse what we have on hand already. Then, we strung the cord as tightly as we could between them. If you look closely, you might be able to make it out in the photos below:


I like this solution for keeping away the deer (well, if it works!) because it’s visually non-invasive and also inexpensive. We left a gap at the end closest to the inner corner of the house so that I can climb in and out over the black fencing. We’re hoping that this gap is close enough to the house and the basement window well (and also narrow enough) that the deer won’t use it as a private entrance into the garden!

I’m looking forward to the upcoming warm weather to see how my plants grow in their new home– and I’ll be getting some mulch soon, too!

Read Full Post »

It all started because I felt the itch to see something growing. A bit of stress relief for me, and an activity for the kids as pandemic news was starting to skyrocket.

I had recently found a tiny packet of carrot seeds among some papers in my kitchen, and I thought it would be fun to plant them in a pot that we had outside.

And then, about a week later in mid-March, my kids’ school closed.

At that time, we had no idea that school would be closed for the rest of the academic year, and that our school system wouldn’t start any sort of distance learning for a LOT of weeks. But I wanted to do some fun but still “learning” activities in the meantime, so one of the first things we did was dig out some more old seeds and plant them in some seed-starting soil I had on hand.

We planted some lettuce seed that I had leftover from my second garden ever (way back in Illinois, on the balcony), as well as parsley seeds and a few different tomato varieties from packets leftover from various years.

At this point, I had no real plans for these seeds, just some vague ideas that maybe this year, without ankle troubles to hinder me, we might be able to use our garden plot again.

I had warned my kids that the seeds were pretty old (and they hadn’t been stored perfectly and had been through a couple of interstate moves), and so we couldn’t be sure if they would actually sprout. I think that made it even more exciting when they did sprout!

Of the lettuces and the parsley, only the arugula seeds in the mesclun mix sprouted. It took an extra long time for the tomatoes to germinate, and I had given up on them, but in the end, we had two Best Boy tomatoes and a few Tiny Tim tomatoes– what a happy surprise!

I had also given up on the carrot seeds outside (the theme of this whole garden is seeds that are at least 5 years old!), but we were thrilled to see them sprout and watch them start growing.

Now that we actually had some seedlings growing, I needed to actually decide what we were going to do with them! But that’s for my next garden 2020 post!

Read Full Post »

At the end of last year’s garden, I was pretty discouraged and frustrated.  As I considered what to do this year, I realized that I would have to put in a significant amount of work to squirrel- and deer-proof (or even just make an attempt, since those animals are particularly wily and persistent about garden theft) and to “heal” the soil.

And so, I don’t think I’m going to have a real garden this year.  Aside from the years that I was moving right in the middle of the summer, this is the first garden season in ten years that I have deliberately decided not to plant one.  It’s a little sad, but really, I’m kind of glad to have a break this year.

However, you don’t think that someone with a blog named “Vegetablog” could actually go without trying to grow *something,* do you?  I couldn’t resist trying to plant some old seeds in a pot that I’ve had on my kitchen counter (it occasionally held herbs).  I tried some old lettuce seeds (from that first garden in 2007!) and while some of them sprouted, nothing has thrived.  So I added some Tiny Tim tomato seeds (from 2008 and 2009) and I just noticed that they were sprouting at the very end of May.  So perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, I will have a miniature tomato plant growing by my kitchen sink.

2017-05-30 08.22.17-Edit.jpg

It’s not pretty, but it’s functional.  Ish.

I took my kids to a library class in mid-May, and the theme for the series was garden science.  One of the activities was to make something that the teacher called “window greenhouses:” a zip-top plastic bag, into which we dropped some bean seeds and a wet paper towel.  We taped them into the window to watch the seeds sprout.

2017_05_19_windowgreenhouse-Edit.jpg

The kids’  window greenhouses on the day after our library class. 

I was pleasantly surprised how quickly the beans started putting out roots. …I was amazed to see that there were roots on the third day! I think I was just as excited (maybe more?) than the kids.

2017_05_20_windowgreenhouse-Edit.jpg

Day Three: Do you see the little root?

We watched more and more roots appear, and then a couple of them put out their first leaves. At this point, we needed to open the bags so that the trapped moisture wouldn’t rot the leaves.

2017_05_24_windowgreenhouse03-Edit.jpg

Day Seven: roots, and even some leaves starting.

2017_05_25_windowgreenhouse-Edit

Day Eight: Definitely leaves starting!

Look at how big that one sprout is!  We've had these for a week now.

Day Nine: time to start planting these beans

Look at how big that one sprout is!  We've had these for a week now.

Day Nine: It was so amazing to see the whole process.

Since it had been so much fun to watch the beans sprout, I decided we should plant them in a pot outside– so the kids helped (more like watched) me fill one with soil and plant the seeds (with the paper towel, to which they had attached themselves with the roots).  V did drop one of the seeds into the pot, but otherwise, they were surprisingly hands-off!

At this point, the weather turned nice and sunny and warm, and so these beans really showed their speedy growth. On the day they planted them, the beans looked like this:

2017-05-30 11.19.32-Edit.jpg

Beans right after we planted them

The next day, we played outside for a couple of hours. At the beginning of our time outside, the beans on V’s side were just barely starting to lift the soil to poke through, and by the end of the time we were out there, they were absolutely above the soil. It’s amazing and so fun to watch.

2017-05-31 17.21.11-Edit

The beans in the pot, one day later!

2017-05-31 17.21.19-Edit

I really hope the squirrels and other beasties spare our bean pot so that we can watch these plants grow!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »