Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July 15, 2014

Well, summer is here in full swing. Though it was hot today, this summer has been mild compared to the summers I remember in the 90s.
Thought I'd take today and tell you about my garden. My garden this year is a bit different from last years. I combined some of what I already knew, some of my failures and successes from last year, and a lot of internet research into this years crops.
For starters, I have grown watermelon, and they're doing pretty good! (If anyone remembers, last year I THOUGHT I had a watermelon plant, but it turned out it was a mis-labeled Roma Tomato.) Off of 3 watermelon plants, I have 5 watermelons plumping up nicely. This is my first time growing watermelons, so I'm excited about them.
I am also growing spaghetti squash this year. I didn't know they are growers and grapplers, and they (along with the pumpkins) are trying to take over my garden, with multiple vines growing over a foot a day, and grabbing onto and pulling all my other plants. I have counted 10 spaghetti squashes floating around, but I'm sure there's more I can't see hiding under the leaves.
Growing some patty-pan squash, and got my first one off today. I needed something to take up some space from some plants that didn't make it, and I had seen patty-pans elsewhere, so I wanted to give them a go. I usually start all my plants from seed, but the patty-pans I did buy as plants. They got off to a slow start, but now they're booming, and full of blooms.
Tried some heirloom tomatoes this year. I have been interested in them for a couple years, but I could only ever find them as plants, and they were nearly $5 each. But I finally took the plunge this year, trying Black Krim and Pineapple tomatoes. None have ripened yet, but the Black Krim does have some mater's on it, I can taste the tomato sandwich now!
Last year, I had I think 5 or 6 roma tomato plants, and had Romas coming out of my ears. This year, after all was said and done (a couple died) I have 2. With the amount of Romas that went to waste last year, 2 is probably a good number, with I'm sure still plenty enough to give away. Also, my deep freezer met an untimely death early this past spring, so I don't have the room to freeze any.
Pumpkins: oh lord! I planted 3 pumpkin plants, and those are the wrangliest, gnarliest, fast-growing plant I have ever had! Last year, squash bugs and Squash Vine Borers (SVB's) destroyed all my squash. Everything. Including my pumpkins, which disappointed me. So I did some research, and learned that even with SVBs attacking pumpkins, you can bury the runners, and they will continue to grow. So with doing that, and not caging them (which I did last year) they are growing wonderfully, maybe too wonderfully. I have pumpkins everywhere, and have actually started clipping the ends to keep them under control, and plump up the pumpkins that are already growing.
Bell Peppers: Blah. Nothing to report there, I think they are going to be a total loss this year. This was the other plant I bought already growing, 3 red bell peppers and 3 green bell peppers. 2 of the red pepper plants died shortly after transplanting, and the remaining 4 have not grown much, not sure what I did or didn't do, but the few golf-ball size peppers they have produced have rotted. So much for those this year.
Green beans have done well, planted much more this year than I did last year, and I made sure to get a stringless variety. When processing those, you pull the strings out. No matter how hard I tried, they always tasted "stringy" when I ate them. The green beans have blooms, just waiting for some fresh green beans! We did have a storm that blew a lot of my plants over, so even though they're turned on their side, they're still doing just fine.
Corn, planted much more corn this year. I had planned to do 3 separate plantings of corn, in 3 week intervals, to have constant flow of corn, instead of one big burst. But, my first planting of corn did squat, I don't think I planted the seeds deep enough, and only a few came up. So after a month, I replanted, and that one took. However, my garden got off to a late start anyhow, and by the time I was ready to do my second planting, it was July. I did plant a large block of corn instead of a couple of rows, which I learned helps with pollination.
My staple green and yellow squash is doing great, with plants much bigger this year than last. I credit that to a generous application of epsom salts when the plants were younger. They are putting off squash at a steady clip, and now I'm at the point to start passing out squash to complete strangers. I have to remember to pick them, and can't be lazy. If I miss a couple of days, I have squash as big as my forearm, and that's speaking from experience.
I have 3 cucumber plants, since I lost one. They are growing great, and I can't keep up with cucumbers. We have given tons away already, and I still have a counter full.
My asparagus "bush" has really grown this year, some of it nearly 4 foot tall. I've been good, and haven't tried to eat any of it. I know it takes 3 years for it root well enough to start eating it, so I'm leaving it alone this 2nd year. Next year asparagus, it's on, just so you know.
I saw where you could re-plant a head of Romaine lettuce that you buy from the store, so I tried it. I didn't think it would work, but it really did. I chopped all the leaves off, re-planted what would have just become compost,  and lo and behold, I have an almost full, new head of Romaine sitting in my garden. I've heard you can also do this with green onions and a few other vegetables.
I really do give a lot of credit to epsom salts in the soil, this is the first year I've used it, and this is the best garden I've ever had. Full, lush, and dark-green colored leaves. It's very rewarding to see your sweat labor pay off in this way, and next year, the soil will be full of epsom salts, you can believe that.
Last year, weeding (or lack of) was a major chore. So in doing internet research, several people mulched their gardens with hay, using it as a top-cover to keep weeds down. I figured "what the heck" and gave it a try. I have spent 1/10th of the time weeding this year compared to last year, and that was just when I felt like being in the garden, it didn't even really need it. If you have a generous layer of hay as a top-cover, the weeds can't get through. It also helps as a nice soft bed for my watermelons, pumpkins, and spaghetti squash. And, at the end of the growing season, it decomposes, and fertilizes the soil. It's a win-win! I will be doing that again next year, also.
As of right now (fingers crossed) I haven't lost any squash to SVBs or squash beetles. I've only seen a few squash beetles, including one copulating couple, but I killed those pretty quick, and haven't seen any further signs of them. The SVBs however, are still attacking. I cut open several plants the other day to pull them out, and will check again tomorrow for any further signs.
I do wish I had planted my rows farther apart, it's hard to walk between them. If I had known how full some of the plants would be, I would have. That's something to tuck away for next year.
Well, until next time, be well!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Hi Again!

April 25, 2014

Long time since I have posted. The weather here has finally gotten warmer. After a long, cold, hard winter, I'm happy to be able to get back outdoors in the fresh air. Can't wait to get my hands into the dirt, and get my garden going. I'm planning on basically the same plants as last year, but I think I'll forget the eggplant, I didn't really care for it. Just had a heck of storm come through, but luckily, all my family is ok.

Friday, June 21, 2013


June 22, 2013
Well, got my barrel. $18, not a bad investment. I have since been reading more on composting, and have found I need to drill a few holes in the barrel to allow in oxygen. That's on the agenda for next week.
Since this blog is new, Let me tell you a little about myself. I have a job that I enjoy, and I'm married, with 2 children. My daughter, who is 2, lives with me. My son, who just turned 11, lives with his mom. I get him when I can, which is usually every other weekend. I will however, have him all next week, since I'm taking a week off of work.
This year, I have a nice garden. The biggest one I've ever had. I have Roma Tomatoes (the only kind I grew this year, hoping to freeze alot of them) and they're doing good. Clusters and clusters of green tomatoes, I estimate they will be ripe and ready to start coming off next week sometime. Green and yellow squash, both of which are doing awesome. I have picked approx 50 or so squash so far, and they are really just getting going good now. I did find 2 squash bugs, which I quickly disposed of. I haven't seen any others or any eggs, keeping my fingers crossed and eyes open. Squash bugs decimated my squash plants a few years ago. I have eggplants, which have finally started to show significant growth in the past couple of weeks, with even a few small buds forming. Green beans (a second planting with some different seeds, I believe the first seeds I had were just no good) some of them are growing, some not. On the larger plants, which are from the first planting of seeds that did make it, I have small beans hanging. I have cucumbers, which once they start really producing, I'll have more than I can handle. I have even used some of those already. I have pumpkins, which some are already first-sized. First time growing those, and also my first time gowing potatoes. They are interesting, with large, healthy growth on top of the mound. I have green, red, and orange bell peppers, all of which are doing nicely.
At the start of the season, I bought some asparagus roots. I love asparagus, but from everything I've read, they are incredibly hard to grow. I thought "what the heck" and bought them. After planting my garden, and not wanting to give up any valuable real-estate for something I wasn't sure would even make it, I dug a few holes on the edge of the garden and threw them in. I knew what would happen if I DIDN'T plant them. . . nothing. So I threw the roots in the holes and forgot about them. I even tilled over them after planting them, because I knew they weren't going to do anything. A few days ago, while pulling weeds, I saw a small long, narrow weed that I didn't recognize. After closer inspection, it was asparagus! I then I noticed the identation of the hole I had dug to put them in. And in the hole next to it, more asparagus! I know I can't do anything with it for a couple of years, but still exciting.
Until next time. . .

Monday, June 17, 2013

Compost 101

June 17, 2013
Thanks for reading my blog!
I have recently been on the hunt for a plastic barrel to use for composting. I've been saving veggie scraps and eggshells for about a year now, and basically just been dumping them in a pile in the backyard. However, instead of having a compost pile, it's become a big pile of super-charged weeds, and it grows crazy and out of control, then I have to run the mower over it to chop the weeds down, and there goes my compost, strewn all over the yard. So after a fruitless internet post looking for a barrel, I've located a local shop that sells old plastic barrels. I'll get one within the next week, and see what I can do in the way of composting. I'll keep you updated!