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I think that this blog is overdue for an update post on the garden; after all, it is Vegetablog  😉

 ~ ~ ~

Let me just start by saying that Husband is awesome.  Since I am pretty much unable to do anything in the garden, he spent some time in the hot sun on the day before Father’s Day, weeding (and pulling out a ridiculous number of tomato volunteers) and tying up the tomatoes to the stakes.  He is so great 🙂

I couldn’t bear to even take photos of the garden before the weeding, but I did take a bunch afterward!

 

The garden today, after a big weeding session by my wonderful husband.

 

First, the left side of the garden:

cucumbers in background, peppers in middle, zucchini in front

cucumbers in background, peppers in middle, zucchini in front

 

I was glad to see that there are finally cucumbers coming up.  They seem to be off to a slow start, though.  I’m impatient to eat what is probably my favorite of my garden produce!

cucumbers: getting a slow start, it seems

cucumbers: getting a slow start, it seems

 

I think it’s interesting to see the disparity in the two zucchini plants.  The plant from the Burpee seed is in the corner, and the plant from the Lake Valley seed is in the foreground.  Planted at the same time, and sprouted at almost the same time, too!

2014_06_14_zucchini01-Edit

 

The Lake Valley zucchini has some buds on it.  Hooray!

zucchini-- blossoms coming!!

In the photo two above, you can also see the Carmen pepper plant.  There’s a little pepper growing on it!

pepper: Carmen

 

 

The pepper plant we started from seed is barely there (no photo this time).  But somehow it still seems to be alive.  We’re leaving it for now, but I don’t think we’ll be getting much off of that plant this year!

The right side of the garden is the “tomato side.”

tomatoes.

tomatoes that we started from seed: 4th of July in foreground, Best Boy in background

tomatoes that we started from seed: 4th of July in foreground, Best Boy in background

 

tomatoes: Bonnie Grape

tomatoes we purchased: Bonnie Grape

tomatoes: Indigo Rose

tomatoes we purchased: Indigo Rose

 

I’m happy to see that at least the tomato plants we purchased are starting to form tomatoes.

Bonnie Grape

Bonnie Grape

 

Indigo Rose

Indigo Rose — can you see the purple tinge?

 

On the back porch, the herb box is filling out.  It looks like just basil and dill have come up (the savory and marjoram didn’t appear), but that is totally fine with me, since those are the herbs I would have chosen anyway.

2014_06_14_herbs01-Edit

2014_06_14_herbs02-Edit

And my daughter’s cherry tomato plant is full of tomatoes!  I’m so excited for them to turn red so that she can pick them 🙂

V's tomato plant

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Yesterday, I posted about the planting of our 2014 garden, and today I wanted to share a bit of an update, as of Thursday of last week.

First, the not-so great news:

It looks like only 3 tomato plants have survived so far… 2 Best Boy, and 1 Fourth of July.  You might be able to barely pick them out in the photo below (they are on the left two stakes in the back row and the far left stake in the front row).  I fully admit that this is mostly my own fault– I didn’t “harden off” my seedlings, and they weren’t looking so hot to begin with.  After all the work Husband put in to prepare the garden, we just might be adding some store-bought seedlings to the empty spaces.

2014_05_12_survivingtomatoes-Edit

 

The peppers aren’t faring so well, either.  The right-hand pepper (of the three sprouts planted) died pretty quickly.  The remaining two are looking a bit worse for wear.  It kind of looks like something is getting into the garden (despite the fencing) and nibbling on the leaves.

left pepper.  barely surviving.

left pepper

right pepper.  barely surviving

right pepper (formerly middle pepper)

 

But there is a bright side!

My herb seeds are sprouting!

look at those herb sprouts!

look at those herb sprouts!

look at those herb sprouts!

I’m not sure what dill, marjoram, and savory sprouts look like, but I’m pretty sure the shorter sprouts with the rounded leaves are basil.  My (wild) guess is that the spikier ones are dill.

And there are zucchini sprouts!

Lake Valley zucchini sprout

Burpee zucchini sprout

And one lone cucumber sprout under the left trellis.  Can you spot it?  (I hope that in all of the in-ground garden photos you are graciously ignoring the fact that weeding needs to be done!)

one cucumber sprout under the left trellis

 

Finally, my daughter’s cherry tomato plant is growing happily.  She makes sure to look out at it each morning when she wakes up, and we have been faithfully watering it with her tiny “watering bucket” (as she calls it) on the days that it hasn’t rained!

Vivian's tomato plant-- seems to be growing happily!

 

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On the first weekend in May, Husband worked super-hard and got our yard into great shape!  One of his projects was to prepare the garden (isn’t he a great guy?).

garden before tilling/planting

This is what it looked like “before.”  We’d dumped all the leaves that we’d raked from the yard into the garden to cover it for the winter.  Husband has decided that he will not do that again!  It made tilling it (by hand) extremely difficult, and there are big chunks of partially decomposed leaves throughout the soil now.

compost from last year

This is an oh-so-glamorous shot of our compost bin.  We ended up “cold-composting.”  All last growing season, we added material to the compost bin.  When the growing season ended and we deconstructed the garden, we stopped adding to the bin and just let it sit.  We didn’t turn the contents at all.  So when Husband opened the bin, we found a layer of nice compost at the bottom, but there was still material above it that hadn’t transformed.  Not a bad result for basically no work!  Husband mixed the layer of compost soil into the garden, and left the other material to start this year’s cold compost.

After the back-breaking work of tilling the garden and working in the compost soil, Husband let me plant my (rather pathetic) seedlings, at my request.  (Side note: it was way harder than I expected to be kneeling on the ground and working around my big ol’ belly, haha!)

seedlings before planting

 

And here are those sprouts, above.  The leftmost column are the peppers, next are the Best Boy, the three in the middle-right column are what is left of the Jelly Bean sprouts (sad), and the Fourth of July sprouts are in the far right column.

I direct-sowed cucumber and zucchini seeds, as well!

 

Now for some not-very-illuminating photos of the planted garden:

Garden planted and mulched!

Garden planted and mulched!

 

By the way, you can see our rain barrel all set up again to the left of the garden.  Thanks to some absolutely crazy rain storms recently, it is nice and full already, and we used it for all of our garden watering as we planted!   When Husband set it up a couple weeks ago, he added a second layer of cinderblock to give it additional height, which hopefully will result in more water pressure when we hook up the soaker hose later.

 

cucumber seeds planted at base of trellises, pepper plants in the three middle spots, and zucchini seeds planted in the two foreground spots.

cucumber seeds planted at base of trellises, pepper plants in the three middle spots, and zucchini seeds planted in the two foreground spots.

 

2014_05_04_gardenafter03-Edit

Best Boy seedlings in the back row, Fourth of July seedlings in the front row.

 

I also direct-sowed a packet of mixed herb seeds (basil, dill, marjoram, and savory) that I got as a freebie last summer at the county fair.  We’re using the box on the porch railing for this, and I”m going to try to be much more reliable about watering it this year! 😉

planted a mixed packet of herb seeds in the box on the porch

Finally, my little girl has been SUPER excited about the garden.  All spring long, she has been talking about helping in the garden.  So Husband and I decided that she should have a container “garden” of her own; the rabbit-proof fencing makes it difficult for her to get into the main garden!

2014_05_04_vgarden02-Edit

 

We picked out a compact cherry tomato plant at our local Home Depot, and she helped us to plant it in one of our large terra cotta pots.

2014_05_04_vgarden08-Edit

2014_05_04_vgarden21-Edit

2014_05_04_vgarden25-Edit

 

 

 

I’m so excited for her to help take care of it and watch it grow!!

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So here’s the plan!

This year’s garden is not going to be much different from last year’s.  For two reasons: 1) It’s going to be a busy summer!  2) I didn’t feel like spending any money on new seeds, so I’m using what I already have.

garden2014diagram-Edit

I’ll have 2 cucumber trellises, two zucchini plants, and two plants of each of three tomato varieties.  I’m going to try and squish in two red bell pepper plants, too!  I’ve had mixed success with peppers in the past, so we’ll see how they do here in this garden plot.

I planted the pepper and tomato seeds on Saturday, 08 February 2014.

I planted seeds for our garden today!!

Just for my own record, there are:

  • Four seeds in each pepper cup
  • Three seeds in each Best Boy cup
  • Two seeds in each Jelly Bean cup (the last of that seed packet)
  • Three seeds in each Fourth of July cup

The cups are living on a tray balanced on a luggage rack in my craft room, where I can leave the blinds completely opened all day long for them to capture as much sunshine from the southern-exposure window as possible.

On the 15th, I was delighted to see cute, fuzzy, little Best Boy sprouts poking up in two of the cups!  Can you spot one in the photo below?

Spotted my first sprouts today!  Two tiny, furry little Best Boy tomato sprouts

On the 18th, I noted sprouts in the Jelly Bean cups, as well.  (From left to right, in this photo, the cups are bell peppers, Jelly Bean, Best Boy, Fourth of July)

2014_02_18_sprouts2-Edit

And one last photo from the 18th, because the sprouts look so cheerful in the sunlight, in spite of the snow on the ground outside!

2014_02_18_sprouts1-Edit

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Garden today

garden: 30 May

The garden is coming along nicely!  (pssst: you can see a sneak peek of our rain barrel in the photo above!)

 

herbs on the porch railing

herbs: 30 May

My herbs are relatively happy on the porch railing.  I am a bit worried about my basil… It doesn’t seem to be growing much, which is sad, since I have a lot of recipes that would be awesome with fresh basil.  I have discovered that chicken salad made with fresh parsley and dill is amazing.  We have yet to use the thyme, but I’m sure we’ll use it soon, since a lot of the ATK recipes call for it!

The tomatoes are coming back nicely.  Yes, I said “coming back.”  There was a while there where I was sure they were dying.  I probably put them in the ground too soon, but my rationale was that they didn’t have enough soil and nutrients in the cups where I started the seeds.  Since it was pretty warm here, I decided to just put the seedlings in the ground and see how they did.  At first, they seemed to just sit there.  They weren’t keeling over, but they weren’t very green, either.  Then around May 22, I noticed they were getting green again!  Hurray!  Husband speculated that maybe they were “concentrating” on putting down roots…  who knows.  All I know is that I am happy that my tomatoes are healthier looking and seem to be growing.  Something I’ve noticed is that my back row plants are bigger than my front row plants.  I don’t have a theory to explain that!

I have a series of before-and-after shots (comparing May 22 and May 30).  They’re small, and the tomato plants are tiny, but maybe just maybe (if you squint), you can see how much the tomatoes grew, even in a week!

Jelly Bean variety:

the Jelly Bean tomato plants today.  They are coming back to life!  Hurray!

Jelly Bean: 22 May

Jelly Bean tomato plants

Jelly Bean: 30 May

Fourth of July variety:

the Fourth of July tomato plants today.  They are coming back to life!  Hurray!

Fourth of July: 22 May

Fourth of July: 30 May

Fourth of July: 30 May

Best Boy variety:

Best Boy: 22 May

Best Boy: 22 May

Best Boy: 30 May

Best Boy: 30 May

Far more dramatic is the change in size of the cucumber and zucchini plants. (Cucumbers are in the back row, by the trellises, and the zucchinis are in the front row.)

cucumbers and zucchinis: 22 May

cucumbers and zucchinis: 22 May

cucumbers and zucchinis: 30 May

cucumbers and zucchinis: 30 May

 

I definitely need to thin the zucchini and cucumber seedlings.  There are two or three zucchini plants growing in each “spot” in the photos above (it should be one plant per spot), and I need to reduce the number of cucumber seedlings beneath each trellis to about three.  Thinning seedlings always makes me sad, though!  Haha, it’s silly, so maybe I’ll head outside right now and get the job done.

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The 2013 garden is officially planted.  Hurray!

Note: This is a long post with lots of “repetitive” photos.  I will post an “official” diagram and list of seed varieties separately. 

On April 21, I raked the soil in the garden plot ’til it was smooth(er).  We measured carefully and added the trellises for the cucumbers and the stakes for the tomatoes in the proper spacing (3 feet on the long axis and 2 feet on the short axis).   You can also see the stakes for the fencing in this photo:

planting spots marked, trellises and stakes in place

After that was accomplished, Husband installed some (hopefully) rabbit-proof fencing.  This wire fencing (which comes on a roll) has increasingly small spacing from top to bottom to prevent the smaller “rodents” from getting through.  We’ll see how it works.  There are bunnies all over the yard in the evenings, and I’m hoping that my garden won’t become a smorgasbord for them.  It’s not as pretty as a non-fenced garden, but I think it’s a necessity.  It is hard to see in this photo, but you can see its shimmer at the closest corner:

rabbit-proof fencing installed

We bought some mulch, which I’ve found to be pretty important for keeping the soil from drying out quickly… and it also dramatically keeps the weeds at bay.  I spread it out that evening and took some photos the next morning:

garden mulched

Right after I’d put down the mulch, I direct-sowed my cucumber and zucchini seeds.  The cucumbers will grow (hopefully) up the trellises, and the zucchini plants will be in front of them.

 

cucumber and zucchini seeds planted

As of the writing of this post (April 30), I haven’t seen any sign of sprouts.  I did plant some extras this weekend (April 28) and mixed in a bit of random potting soil I had on hand because I was concerned that the soil may have dried out.

P.S. The big white tube thing is a downspout diverter.  We are trying to come up with a solution so that it’s not as ugly… maybe a rain barrel?  Not sure if that would be better…

Oooh oooh oooh!  I have herbs!  While we were picking up the mulch, we saw that they were on sale at our local Home Depot.  In addition to the basil I already had, I planted thyme, dill, and curly parsley (R to L) in a wooden box planter that we secured to our back  porch railing:

herb box

You may recall that I originally intended to have my herb garden on my kitchen counter, but after trying to keep some plants alive there earlier this spring, I discovered that it isn’t as sunny there as I’d thought.  This box of herbs is right outside the door to the porch from our kitchen, so I will have easy (no-shoes-necessary) access.  Plus, it’s nice and high and out of critters’ reach.

This Sunday morning (April 28), before church (which ended up being a good plan, because by the time we got home, the sun had gone away and it was raining!), I planted my tomatoes.  I decided to risk planting them out a bit early, since they were looking sort of anemic in their cups:

2013_04_28_sproutsbeforeplanting-Edit

I have two of each variety in the ground now:

2013_04_28_gardentomatoesplanted2-Edit

2013_04_28_gardentomatoesplanted4-Edit

What, you can’t see them?  Haha, I know.  But they are there!  I promise.  I’m hoping that they have been doing okay this week.  We’ve had some nice, gentle (as far as I can tell), soaking rain, but it’s been a bit chilly.  I think the sunshine is coming back soon, though!  Hurray!  I’m excited to see my plants grow.

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A few notes for myself for this year’s garden…

2013_01_30_gardenspot-Edit

  • We’re planning to plant our garden behind our garage.  It has southern exposure, so that means lots of sunlight!
  • This year, we’ll keep it simple to see how the soil is.  The grass has looked different in that area of our lawn, but hopefully it’s just because it’s winter.
  • I will plant tomatoes (jelly bean variety + a larger tomato variety), cucumbers (please, please, please, no groundhogs!!), and zucchini (or deer!!)
  • I definitely want to put herbs on my counter in the corner under my kitchen window.  Basil and parsley, for sure, and maybe chives.  A pot for green onions, because you can regrow the grocery store ones once they’re cut.  Dill, too, if I’m feeling crazy and have the space…With all the new recipes we’re trying, fresh herbs are important to have on hand!
  • According to almanac.com, the last-frost date for my general area is April 11.  (and the first-frost date is Oct 29!!  Woooooo hoooooooo for a longer growing season!!).  I’ll need to get myself some seed packet information to start planning when I should plant seeds!

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