Archive for the ‘herbs’ Category

As I went through my photo catalog to put together this August 2021 garden recap, I noticed that I can compare photos from each section of my garden throughout the month, so let’s get started with my cucumbers!

Recall that at the end of July, I added fertilizer to my tomato and cucumber pots. I could see a difference within days! I had such high hopes for these pots of cucumbers. I had nine vines (three in each pot) because I wanted enough to enjoy on salads, etc. but also extra to try some pickling. In the photo below, you can see that at the beginning of August, the cucumbers seemed to get healthier once I’d fertilized them. However, at the end of the month, the vines (mostly the Burpee vines) were diseased and dying. We had just returned from vacation on the 21st, and when I went out on the 22nd to inspect my garden, I had to aggressively prune away all the dead and dying leaves and vines. I was hoping that clearing away the bad stuff would give the new growth room to flourish.

comparison of the cucumbers on August 3 (top left), August 8 (top right), and August 22 (before and after pruning, left and right on the bottom)

I’d say the other big disappointment of August was that my lavender started failing. I don’t exactly know what happened; I think it must have gotten some sort of disease or fungus because it’s so humid here. I was trying to make sure not to overwater. At some point in August, I actually moved this container to another location behind my house, because I’d dreamed of having a bed of lavender in that spot. I tried to trim some of the healthy stems and root them, but all my attempts failed.

Let’s move on to something with positive growth! First up: the nasturtiums. For most of the summer, after a couple (and I actually mean literally two or three total) blooms in June, the nasturtium plants looked to be on death’s door. I wondered if perhaps I’d planted them in containers that are too shallow. During the month of August, they did start perking up a bit and growing new and bigger leaves. I had a brief exchange with a gardener I follow on Instagram, and she suggested that it was perhaps too hot for the plants. I noticed that when the weather was slightly cooler during parts of August, the nasturtium looked happier. I think it was a combination of heat and lack of nutrients. I can’t believe that I didn’t think to add fertilizer to these containers when I fertilized the cucumbers and tomatoes in July! I added some at the end of August, so you’ll see how much improved they became in September.

comparison of the two containers of nasturtium on
August 3 (top photos) and August 22 (bottom photos)

My herbs also kept on flourishing during August.

basil and chives : August 3, 2021 (top) and August 22, 2021 (bottom)

In the background you can see the “miracle” tomato plant. The fertilizer worked wonders for all my tomatoes in August. I think that this was the biggest mistake I made this year: assuming that my potting soil had enough nutrients. I really wish that I had fertilized earlier.

comparison of the cherry tomatoes (orange pots) and the Brad’s Atomic Grape tomatoes (light colored pot) on August 3, 8, and 22 (top to bottom)

You can see in the comparison of the small tomato varieties above and the Best Boy (larger) tomatoes below that once the fertilizer kicked in, the plants grew into a jungle! The difference was especially dramatic for the Best Boys, since those plants were looking so pathetically spindly!

comparison of the Best Boy tomatoes on August 3, 8, and 22 (top to bottom)

In fact, the growth was almost too much! By the end of the month, I decided that a big prune was necessary.

August 30, 2021: before (above) and after (below) a BIG pruning job on my tomatoes

The prune was very necessary. After all that pruning, this was my harvest.

Almost everything I chopped away was leafy growth, and I think the streamlined plants produced better and had better airflow to keep them healthy.

The surprise hit of the garden for me this summer was the marigold container! I had always been sort of ambivalent toward marigolds, but I hadn’t grown them for years (probably since Sunday school Mother’s Day gifts when I was in elementary school!). I was so thankful for their gorgeous color and the way they attracted butterflies and other pollinators to the garden.

I will definitely plant marigolds again next year– hopefully several containers! (Yes, I’ve been harvesting seeds. ;-))

Speaking of harvesting seeds, I am giving tomato seed saving a try. I went very simple with this first attempt, rinsing and drying seeds from the two heirloom varieties I had in my garden this year.

Overall, August was a good month in my garden! Below is a comparison collage throughout the month.

Comparison of the garden through the month of August (top to bottom): August 8, 13, 22, 30-before pruning, 30-after pruning.

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Continuing my retrospective garden updates…

At the beginning of July, I discovered that the rightmost (back row) Best Boy was drowning– somehow the drainage of the pot got blocked. I carefully untied the (still spindly) plant from its stake and Husband helped me tip the pot to drain the excess water and pull off the attached saucer. You can see in the photo below that the foliage was yellow and drooping. Thankfully, simply removing the saucer seemed to be enough to fix whatever blockage was happening, and the plant eventually perked up again. (At the end of this year’s growing season, I will remove the rest of the saucers and possibly drill more drainage holes in these pots to prevent future issues like this.)

Best Boy tomatoes on July 4, 2021

July was when I first really started seeing fruits start forming and growing on my tomato and cucumber plants. Mouthwatering potential!! It’s always such a wonder to me, especially when starting a plant from seed: this tiny, tiny thing has grown up and is producing these beautiful fruits.

young fruit in my garden, July 12, 2021
Best Boy tomato, July 21, 2021
heirloom purple cherry tomatoes, July 21, 2021
Brad’s Atomic Grape tomatoes, July 21, 2021
Brad’s Atomic Grape tomato ripening on July 22, 2021

I made some of my first harvests in July! I started keeping a spreadsheet of each variety’s harvest (number and weight) so that I can compile some data at the end of the season.

First, the herbs: We cut small bunches of chives and clipped parsely leaves to put on our suppers. I LOVE having fresh herbs as a finishing touch! Some of my lavender started drying on the plant, so I began cutting those stems off to put into a sachet. The basil grew like crazy, and I cut a whole bouquet for my Husband to make into pesto.

Spicy Globe basil bouquet, destined for pesto. July 13, 2021

I harvested my first couple of cucumbers (these are from the Ferry-Morse vine).

first cucumbers: July 21, 2021

We also started getting small bowlfuls of purple cherry tomatoes:

I LOVED watching the Brad’s Atomic Grape tomatoes ripen and change color. Since it’s an unusual-looking tomato, I had to really learn when to harvest them. They split very easily (sometimes long before they are fully ripe), so I eventually learned to harvest them a little early so that they could finish ripening on the counter, where if they were split, they wouldn’t rot or attract pests.

first Brad’s Atomic Grape tomato, July 25, 2021

I did have some more hornworm challenges: there was (at least) one plaguing my purple cherry tomato plants, and it wreaked quite a bit of havoc before I managed to find it.

hornworm damage woes, July 24, 2021

I mentioned in the June post my 10th tomato (unknown variety) that had fallen over and gotten quite damaged. I was not sure that it was going to make it, but it turned into a wonderful comeback story. I was so glad to to see it putting out new shoots– and even flowering again!!

July 22, 2021: comeback tomato (unknown variety)

Ending on an artisitc note: mid-month, I participated in a photography challenge within the Simple Scrapper membership to play with macro photography. At first, I didn’t know what I would photograph, but as I was watering my garden one day, I realized that there was such a variety of pollinators visiting my garden! I decided to get out my camera to try and capture some macro photos of them. I used both my kit lens and my zoom lens (some of the insects were too shy to be photographed up close!). These are my favorite shots from that little session:

comparison of the garden on July 12 (left) and July 31 (right)

Throughout the month, although I was beginning to harvest cucumbers and tomatoes, I started noticing that the plants got spindly and increasingly sad looking. I didn’t really figure out what was going on until the very end of the month. I’d been listening to a gardening podcast, and they were discussing garden maintenance, and I realized that my garden might need to be fertilized! My plants needed nutrients!

comparison of the garden on July 12 (top) and July 31 (bottom)

In my previous years’ gardens, I’d used “regular” not-organic potting soil that had added fertilizer, so I’d not come across this obvious lack of nourishment before. This year, I’ve been using Miracle Gro Organic potting soil and I have to say, I haven’t been impressed. I don’t like the texture of it (it seems too dense) and I didn’t expect to have to add fertilizer. (Admittedly, that is probably from inexperience using organic potting soil.) Thankfully I had some fertilizer on hand from several years ago, and I added some to all of my large pots on July 30 (I choose to err on the side of too little, since I was afraid of burning the roots). I definitely saw an improvement quickly at the beginning of August. I’ll write about that in my next update post!

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June started off with a new tomato plant in my garden plot! This brought the total number to ten, so I was dreaming of all the tomato recipes I’d be able to make later in the summer! A friend gave it to me, and I couldn’t find the variety name anywhere on the tag.

June 1: new tomato plant added to the garden!

Unfortunately, later that week we were out of town overnight. When I got home, the plant had tipped over and had broken in a few places. I should have known better than to leave it in its original pot (much too small, and a wimpy cage). I did some damage control– transplanting it into a bigger pot, trimming off all the broken pieces, and removing many of the green tomatoes (too heavy for the poor thing to support). I staked it and tied it up as best I could.

June 8 – a few days after the rescue attempt. This little plant might make it… but it needs a lot of gentle care!

In June, it became necessary to start pruning and tying up my tomatoes. If you look closely at the photo below, you can see the “t-shirt yarn” (just old t-shirts torn into strips) that I use to tie the tomatoes to their stakes. The containers I bought this year didn’t have a central hole, so the stakes are outside the pot. I’m not sure how much I like that… It makes the plants look sort of strangled right now. I think/hope they will do okay after a few days to reorient themselves. In hindsight, I should have planted them toward the side of the container next to the stake! I’ll have to remember that for next year.

June 4, 2021 – I started pruning and tying up my tomatoes today.

I made a conscious decision this summer to do minimal pruning, after reading and listening to some podcasts that discussed the pros and cons of pruning. With ten tomato plants, I was really hoping for a bountiful harvest, so I wanted my plants to grow as much as possible (without them getting too crowded). I also learned that the trimmed suckers can be rooted in water, so I tried it out!

I was able to share some of these rooted cuttings with friends, and I hope that they grew well in their gardens!

It was so exciting to start seeing blossoms on my tomatoes, specifically the smaller-fruit varieties.

purple cherry tomato blossoms on June 8, 2021
Brad’s Atomic Grape tomato blossoms on June 8, 2021

Even more exciting: to see the fruit forming!

baby purple cherry tomato on June 14, 2021
baby Brad’s Atomic Grape tomatoes, June 20, 2021

On the subject of blooms, I had my first marigold bloom…

marigold flower, June 4, 2021

…and I was delighted to observe nasturtium buds forming– and the first bloom. It was raggedy, but still beautiful!

nasturtium bud on June 14, 2021
first (raggedy) nasturium bloom on June 16, 2021

I was excitedly watching the cucumber plants grow. The warm weather helped!

cucumbers (and nasturtium plants) on June 14, 2021

The lavender grew in leaps and bounds this month, and I was delighted to see the pollinators visiting it, including this white butterfly:

a butterfly visiting my lavender on June 23, 2021

I started trimming some tiny bouquets of lavender (I’d read that it was best to cut it when the buds were not quite open) so that I can dry it for sachets. I tied it up with some crochet thread and hung it to dry in my craft room.

June 23 bouquet of lavender

Speaking of herbs, the spicy globe basil has taken off!!

Spicy Globe basil, June 23, 2021

The month was not without some problems in the garden. First, I started noticing blossom-end rot on some of my Brad’s Atomic Grape tomatoes. I cut those fruits off the vine and tried to keep my watering more regular. After this time, I thankfully only saw a couple other fruit in the garden that were affected by this particular malady.

blossom-end rot on my Brad’s Atomic Grape tomatoes. June 23, 2021

The grossest issue for me was when I spotted this devastation to one of my Best Boy plants. They’d already been fairly spindly looking, but this was adding insult to injury! Especially since this plant was the smallest of them all! The cuprit: Tobacco Hornworms.

hornworm damage to one of my Best Boy tomato plants, June 28, 2021

I found five more that day, and many more in subsequent days. I hadn’t really ever had an issue with hornworms in previous years, so I was pretty horrified. The best way to deal with them is to pull them off the plant (yes, with your fingers) and squash them. They are BIG. They are SQUISHY. And they often have surprisingly good grips on the plants! UGH!!

tobacco hornworm–note the red “horn”. June 28, 2021

Despite the few issues that came up, June saw a LOT of growth in my garden, and it was so exciting! Here’s a side-by-side collage of the garden throughout the first half of the month (June 1, 4, 8, and 14). I guess I forgot to take whole-garden photos for the rest of the month!

The garden from the right-hand end: June 1, 4, 8, and 14.

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I dropped the ball on updating throughout the summer about my garden here on the blog. I’ve been doing little updates on my Instagram stories all along, but considering this blog started as a gardening record, I do want to gather all those details (and maybe a few more) here. It’s a daunting task to cover the whole season in one post, so I’ve decided to go month by month to catch up.

Last we left off, I’d just planted out the garden! I’d done the final transplant of my tomatoes into their large pots and direct-sowed cucumber and nasturtium seeds.

About a week later, I spotted nasturtium sprouts!

May 12 – nasturtium sprouts!

However, just over two weeks after I’d sown the seeds, I wasn’t seeing anything in the cucumber pots. Like an impatient little kid, I decided to dibble around in the pots to see if anything was actually sprouting. Out of the 12 seeds I’d put in, only one of them was germinating. I was really disappointed, because I’d deliberately planted extra this year so that I’d have enough to pickle! Therefore, I decided to plant more seeds, this time from the Burpee packet I had leftover from 2015.

May 19- the lone Ferry-Morse cucumber sprout.

I adore lavender, so I decided to buy this little seedling to add to my garden. It’s my dream to have a big patch of it somewhere on my property (or at least several containers’-worth!)

May 19 – new addition to my garden plot: lavender!!

I was delighted to start seeing cucumber sprouts within 5 days of planting the “new” (but really actually old) seeds. By a week later, almost all of them had sprouted!

May 26 – baby nasturtium plants and cucumber sprouts! Hooray!

Throughout May, I was so happy to add some more types of herbs to my garden, thanks to my local Buy-Nothing group. In addition to the spicy globe basil I’d gotten at the end of April, I also was gifted dill, chives, and three marigold plants.

It was so amazing to watch my garden grow (both individual plants and by adding even more containers of plants!) this month. Here’s a little collage showing its progress:

My garden in May 2021– left to right: May 4, May 19, and May 26

Stay tuned for the June update!

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I was very excited to try and start my garden with winter sowing, but that didn’t work out this year. I’m not sure what happened, but nothing sprouted. I’d like to try again; we’ll see… Thankfully, my garden wasn’t centered around those seeds growing. The main crops I want to grow in my garden are tomatoes and cucumbers.

Tomatoes and cucumbers aren’t winter-sowing appropriate, so in mid-March, I started some tomato seeds indoors: A neighbor gave me a couple Brad’s Atomic Tomato seeds, and I still had some of my Best Boy seeds from a packet I bought back in 2013. I didn’t have high expectations for the Best Boy seeds to germinate, but 5 out of the 6 I planted sprouted! That same neighbor also shared some cherry tomato seedlings with me (some are labeled just “cherry,” and some “heirloom cherry”– I’m not sure if there is a difference! She mentioned that they were “maybe purple cherry”– I’m excited to see what they look like! Three out of the four seedlings I received survived… so I ended up with a total of nine (NINE!) tomato plants this year. I’m pretty excited.

March 15, 2021: I moved my tray of seeds/seedlings along the mat in front of our porch door so that they got as much sunlight as possible during the day!
3/31/2021: I thought I’d killed this Brad’s Atomic Grape tomato seedling (the only one that germinated) when I stupidly thought I would “help it along.” I was so desperate eager to have one of these plants in my garden this year that when the seed coat seemed stuck on the seed leaves, I pulled it off– and I think I damaged the seed leaves. But I think there is hope!! There is a tiny, tiny true leaf starting to grow!!

But before we get to the tomatoes……

Toward the end of March I was getting excited to prepare my garden plot. I took advantage of the gorgeous weather one afternoon to clean out the hand-me-down planters I was given by another neighbor (the rectangular ones)… and I couldn’t resist direct-sowing some cool-weather crop seeds at the same time!

3/21/2021: I scrubbed down and drilled additional drainage holes into the long, rectangular containers given to me by a neighbor. I couldn’t resist sowing some cool-weather crop seeds: peas (foreground) and lettuce (background).

I had no idea if any of them would sprout (spoiler alert: nothing did!) The peas and lettuces were leftover from my 2008 garden. We’d tried starting some for last year’s garden experiment, and last year only the arugula (in the mesclun mix) sprouted. This year, nothing did! I did find evidence that a critter was digging in the rectangular containers, so that probably didn’t help anything!

In April, I began hardening-off my seedlings. I think that this year’s sprouts are the best I’ve ever had!

4/5/2021: hardening off on the back porch

This spring, I started listening to the Joe Gardener podcast, and I learned a lot about separating seedlings and transplanting them. I wonder if that is why they did better for me this year than in the past? When the seedlings were establishing their true leaves, I upgraded them to separate plastic takeout containers with drainage holes as an intermediate stage before they went outside.

4/29/2021: The tomatoes are basically ready to be transplanted into their final 15″ planter homes.

In the above photo, you can see the rooted basil sprig that my generous neighbor gave to me (the same one who gave me the Brad’s Atomic Grape seeds and the cherry seedlings!). I am so thankful for her generosity– she has definitely been a significant benefactor to this year’s garden!

On May 2, I decided it was time to get these plants outdoors. This year I’m using Miracle-Gro organic potting mix that I found at Costco. I started with three bags but didn’t have enough to fill all my containers, so I went back for two more to finish out the planting! I have some extra soil now, but I’m hoping to add parsley and lavender (and possibly other herbs) to my garden as the summer goes on.

5/2/2021: seeds for direct-sowing now that the danger of frost is past.

First up, I direct-sowed some seeds: Ferry-Morse Tendergreen cucumber and Burpee Nasturtium. The cucumber seeds are from WAAAAAAAY back in 2011. I used some from this packet last year and they grew well, so I’m hoping they come up this year. However, I think that I’ve started early enough that if they don’t come up, I can still try again. I bought the nasturtium seeds this year, and I scarified them (using a nail file) as the packet suggested. Hope I did it correctly!

I planted out everything but three tomato seedlings… I got more potting soil yesterday, and this morning, I finished transplanting. Here’s the lineup for this year:

Last summer, my little garden plot was such a happy place for me. I’m hoping that this year’s garden grows just as well!

P.S. I frequently post about my garden progress in my Instagram stories– you can see them in my saved highlight called “Garden 2021”

5/4/2021 : all the tomatoes are transplanted into their big pots, and I’ve direct-sowed the cucumbers and nasturtiums!

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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:

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!

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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!



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 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.



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.



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.



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!



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.







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.


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)


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!


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