Tuesday, May 29

How My Garden Grows: Weeks 3 & 4

We have corn! The corn is on its way to knee high by the 4th of July...and the weeds are growing at the same rate, if not faster.  I spent a good 3 hours the other night weeding and it barely made a dent.  So, I've decided to just maintain the areas around the plants and worry about the other spots when I can.  I'm pretty excited for the corn, but Jeremy likes to remind me that we need to see actual ears first.  

The beans have taken a bit of a hit the last 2 weeks.  Here is a shot of the rented plot's beans.  Something is obviously snacking on them so I made sure to get the Seven out and have been able to control the damage.  Where are pictures from my home garden? Oh, there are NONE.  Because something (rabbit, vole, bird?) ate the seeds/leaves.  So I had to replant those and they have yet to sprout.  Very frustrating!

 Onions are looking great! You can see my neighbors cabbage in the background.  You can also see the weeds that separate our gardens.  Maybe one day I'll have time to pull those.  If not, oh well!

 The onions I planted from seeds have started to come up....

The tomato plants are looking healthy.  One even has a little tomato starting! Can't wait to enjoy BLTs, salsa, and sauce!

The cayenne pepper plant growth is minimal.  Going to get some fertilizer out to give it a hand.

On the home front, the cherry tomato plant has started to flower.  The difference is soil quality and the affect it has on plants is simply amazing.  Every time I go out back, it seems like the plants have grown 1-2 inches.

The sunflowers are getting tall but don't look too healthy.  It's probably due to our crappy soil in the backyard.  I have miracle grow on the list for the grocery this week, so hopefully that will help.  I would love it if I could get one or two sunflower heads to dry and make seeds!

The green peppers were being eaten as well, so I put a barrier around the bottom to ward off hungry little pains in the ass.

The peas are coming along nicely.  Still haven't made a trellis, but maybe now I'll get it done since school is out??  I filled in some of the open spots with more seeds, so we should have a nice crop of peas- yum!

 The cukes- this is kind of a bad picture.  The plant is doing well and with a good rain or two, I imagine I'll start to see some flowers.

Still no sign of the lettuce.  The chives were coming up, but I think a certain boy and girl picked all the sprouts to eat...because the pot is now mysteriously empty after a brief taste test.  The green onions continue to grow well, and I put in some bulb onions in the home garden too, in hope of keeping out the pesky rabbits.

And that's how the garden has been growing!!

Saturday, May 12

How My Garden Grows: Week 2

Week two into the double gardening experience.  I spent a lot of time at the rented plot, just trying to clear through all the weeds.  I went over and spent my lunch hour a few times and it's coming along.  Seems that the weeds are getting under control a bit, so that is good.  The kids and I went out today and picked several bucket fulls again.  

Here is a picture of the garden plot.  You can kind of see where my square is.  I've got the onions and beans off to the right in an L shape so I can wave plant north and west as the summer goes on.  You can see the three tomato plants...the cayenne pepper plant is off to the right.  The corn is in the top left.

Here the bulb onions are starting to sprout! So excited to have lots of onions!  The seeds have not come up yet, but I'm guessing we'll have some sprouts by next week.

The beans are also coming up. One more week and I'll start another 2 rows of seeds.  I can't wait until our first beans of the summer!!

Here the herb plant we inherited.  I am pretty sure it's fennel, but I guess time will tell.  It's kind of in an awkward spot so I might try and transplant it this week.

CORN! A few corn seeds have started to sprout.  This is a good thing since I have no idea what I'm doing with it : )  I've made a few friends with my neighbors so I'm hoping they can give me tips on how to make sure it pollinates and what not.

Peas in our home garden- I think I have a way to construct a trellis but now I have to find the materials for cheap.  I'm hoping to hit up some garage sales next weekend and see what I can find.

Beans at home- both rows are in.  Now to keep the rabbits out until the get past their first leaf stage! We have some rabbit repellent that may or may not work.  I've tried spreading dog hair, but all that did was get the hair all caught up in the bean pods when it grew, which was a giant pain in the ass to get off before we cooked them.

Green onions- these are VERY VERY tiny, but have sprouted! They are about as tall as my pinky fingernail.

One of the green pepper plants....

Our cherry tomato plant.  So far no spiders!

And the cucumbers...I can tell they are ready to sprawl out and get to growing!

Sunflowers- going to have to thin these out soon, but I'm going to wait another week to make sure I pick the strongest plants.

The lettuce and chives haven't sprouted yet.  I probably should have gotten them in sooner, but we'll see how it goes.  I also just realized I never planted the carrot seeds! Going to get on that as soon as I can decide where to put them.

And that, my friends, is how my garden grows, week 2!

Saturday, May 5

How My Garden Grows: Week 1

Well, I took the plunge and rented a 25 x 25 plot at our local community college to grow a second garden this summer.  For the last 5 years I have been practicing my garden skills at home in the 8 x 10 raised plot that Jeremy built for me back in 2007.  I have been devouring all types of gardening books and trying out new tricks to get the best crops.  While I am still a novice, I felt confident enough this year to fork over the cash ($30...what an incredible steal!!) and rent my very own plot in the community garden.  I am beyond excited to see how it turns out!

In an attempt to chronicle what works and what doesn't, I hoping to blog about it on a weekly basis.  Judging from the fact that I have posted once since 8/2011, the "how my garden grows" series may or may not come to fruition.  I wanted to take weekly pictures too, but my camera was dead.  Nothing really exciting to see yet anyway!

Home Garden
I am liking the fact that I don't have to cram everything I want to grow into this tiny space.  With 5 people in this family, what once seemed like a lot of space is not enough.  Here is what we've got in the ground:

Onions: I sowed a row of green onions from seed.  I like  being able to run out and pick a few for the texas cavier that we love to eat.  I planted these on the south side, and I swear it helps keep the rabbits out!

Carrots:  Last year was the first time I had success with carrots.  Turns out you have to have patience to enjoy these.  I've read up on some methods to winter them, so I am hoping to have fresh carrots year round. We'll see how that pans out.

Cucumbers:  Even though these take over like a forest fire on a windy day, I had to plant these at home.  Every year we get SO many cukes, which literally multiply overnight and so it just makes sense to have them in the yard where we can pick them daily.  I learned you also have to pinch the male flowers early and often or risk getting bitter cukes (which was sometimes the case last year), so another reason why they need to be at home.  Noelle and Ty eat these like candy bars, and I'm sure Alexis will be no exception this year.

Cherry Tomatoes: I'm going to try this for the 3rd year now.  Each year it seems that the hairy, nasty, black spiders take over my tomatoes and I've read up on some remedies for that.  They area fun for the kids to pick and great for dinner salads!

Green Peppers: Another favorite of the kids.  I have 5 plants in and think I have the hang of growing some great green peppers!  I like to freeze the extra to use throughout the winter in chili, stirfry, fajitas, etc.

Beans:  I think I've finally mastered the art of planting beans in waves to ensure fresh crop all summer.  I still remember the first year when I planted a ton of seeds at the same time and we were eating beans for a few weeks straight and then had nothing for the rest of the summer :-)  Easy to grow and delicious!!

Strawberries!  This is a new crop this year.  I haven't tried growing any fruits, so we'll see how it goes! I'm going to plant these on the hill out back.  Building another raised bed is too expensive right now, so I'm going to see if I can actually grow these before I invest in a structure to contain them.

Chives and Lettuce:  Both are growing in pots.  I haven't had success with either before, mainly due to the dang rabbits.  I'm hoping that they will grow well since I have them off the ground.

Sunflowers:  These are by the side of the house.  Our topsoil, or lack there of, is such poor quality that I'm not sure they will even grow.  One of the downfalls of building your home...I prepped the soil a bit with fertilizer and topsoil, so time will tell if it helps, I guess.

Community Plot
Noelle and I went out today and spent 4 hours weeding, prepping the soil, and planting the seeds of our crops (Jeremy accidentally left with our plants, so we'll have to get those in the ground tomorrow!)  We found a fennel plant among the weeds, so we decided to keep it :-)  All the crops here are ones that don't require frequent monitoring.  I planted a TON of them (25 x25 is an incredibly large space).  My hope is that I can blanch the beans, corn, and tomatoes and freeze for use throughout the winter.

I made sure to really prep the soil because I have no idea what was planted in previous years.  I raked in some of my favorite fertilizer, started a little compost pile in one corner of the lot, and broke the soil up as well as I could.  While weeding, I saw zero pesky bugs under the top layer, which is a huge bonus.  No grub worms, beetles, etc. that like to eat up the plants.  I also didn't notice any worms, which I was sad about.  This indicates low organic matter in the soil, so basically crappy soil!  I am hoping to remedy that as the summer goes on.

Onions: sowed a few rows of seed and a few starter onions.  I have learned how to store these over the winter, so we planted a lot of them with the hopes of not having buy any from the store.  I am going to plant these in waves, as well as the beans.

Beans: sowed 2 rows of beans, with wave planting every 2 weeks until mid-July.

Corn: planted 4 rows of corn.  This is my first try at it, so I didn't want to take up too much space in case it was an epic fail.  I'm curious to see how my spacing will wind up...not sure how the pollination of the plants will go, but I followed the directions on the package, so hopefully well.

Tomatoes: planted 3 big boy tomato starters.  I am hoping the spider fest (see above) takes its party elsewhere.  I've love to freeze the extras for chili and sauces throughout the winter.

Cayenne Pepper:  Jeremy loves these and grow them every other year.  One plant produces about 200 peppers, so we dry them and keep them for the next year too.  These things are HOT and I am glad that they are in this plot and not the one at home.  One touch from the kids would be a nightmare.

And that, my friends, is how my garden grows!