Thursday, November 29, 2012

Loving this Time of Year

Every year around this time, I again fall in love with gardening and being outside. What a beautiful alive world we live on. 

Our family gained a member about a month ago. We now have a small Russian desert tortoise living in our backyard. We first made a small enclosure for him, but then decided to enclose the garden area and let him roam free so he could eat weeds and hibernate in a place of his choice. He's now half way under the ground near our home foundation and hasn't moved for several days, so maybe that's his location of choice. 

Here's my garden today with its new cinder block surround:

I planted more cilantro and lettuce on Saturday, November 24th as well as some spinach and I will be planting more sweet peas tomorrow after they soak. None grew from my first attempt, so they may be bad seeds.

Lettuce (what's left of it after tortoise and pests) and Brocolli
Big tomato plants are the heirlooms I received from friends. All the small ones I planted.
Tomato plants and Cilantro
I love you cilantro!

And my 3 year-old daughter was so excited to see this gorgeous hibiscus flower yesterday, so we had to snap a photo.

A few weeks ago, she helped me plant some random flower seeds in these pots. I look forward to some flowers.

And oranges, grapefruits and tangerines are on their way! Ripeness is a few weeks away!

I'm grateful for this little space that I can use to enjoy creation.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pruning My Rose Bushes

I have not been a good mother to my 4 rose bushes. These bushes are important to me because they were given to my husband's grandmother, who lived in this home before us for many years. I really want these old bushes to live a lot longer, so I was frightened when I saw that all of them are not looking well.
On Saturday, 10/20/12, I pruned them, cutting off all dead wood and spent flowers. Then, my 3 year-old daughter helped me rake in some rose food into the first 3 inches of soil all around the bushes. While raking, I made wells around each bush so they will allow the water to soak in better instead of draining away. Then, we gave them lots of water and I have been giving them a good drink each day since. I hope to see new life soon. They look pathetic at this point. I am hoping that the bushes can now focus their energies on creating new stems and flowers and getting strong before the winter comes.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Some additions...

Yesterday, I was able to plant the soaked pea seeds along the bottom of my newly acquired wire trellis that goes all the way up our block wall. This should be the stretching room those vines are wishing for, unlike past seasons when I greatly underestimated their potential height. 

My garden is mostly covered with some light-weight netting as part of its defense strategy  I used some stakes for supporting the netting over the areas where I have new seeds growing. The netting is there to prevent birds from pecking at my seeds and neighborhood cats from pooing and digging in my soil. 

Our friends who gave us some manure also gave us some little plants today. 

2 broccoli plants (below)
This is my first time doing broccoli and since I wasn't expecting it, I ended up planting it in the location that I was planning to plant more zucchini seeds. I will just plant a few more zucchini seeds on the single hill and that will be good for this year. I am limited in space for the winter season because of the location of the sun and sunny areas in my garden area.

 And 5 little tomato plants (below). He called them Czechoslovakian tomatoes and he has enjoyed them in his garden in past seasons. He said they will need to be covered when it gets colder in the winter.

And I am excited to see some little tomato plant seedlings in the pods that I experimented with.

Last year's pea trellis is now placed over this wild invasive plant that has provided a beautiful green covering and purple flowers in the springtime without any efforts or watering on my part. Last week I had the idea to put the trellis there and see if it can crawl up and cover some of our ugly wall. If it does crawl up, I will keep it well trimmed so it doesn't go to crazy. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fall Garden Begins

This beautiful morning, I planted:
3 heirloom brandywine tomato
3 cherry tomato
3 yellow tomato
2 rows of my old cilantro seeds and 2 rows of organic cilantro from the free seeds
1 zucchini seed (unfortunately, I didn't realize that was all that I had left, so I'll need to get more.)
1 row of romaine lettuce
1 row of crisp head lettuce

And, I failed to soak my sweet pea seeds yesterday, so I got those soaking to be planted tomorrow.

Yesterday, our neighbors/friends offered some horse manure that they had left over from preparing their garden soil. So, my husband brought over a wheel-barrow full and we spread it over and mixed it into our prepped garden area. I've heard that horse manure can increase weeds in gardening because the horses eat the weeds/grass and poop out the seeds. So we'll see from our experience how horse manure affects our garden. Part of the learning experience!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Freebies & Learning about Soil

I haven't yet had the opportunity to plant seeds in my prepared garden soil, but I did plant 14 tomato seeds (red cherry and heirloom brandywine) in some little starter pellets (Jiffy) last Saturday the 29th of September. I've never seen or used these before. I got the pellets from a Craigslist poster for free along with some seeds, a soil testing kit and some fertilizer spikes. 

My 3 year-old and I had a good time acting like we were scientists today testing my soil with the free kit. 

Neutral pH (7.0) level
Nitrogen (N)- medium
Phosphorous (P) - high
Potash/Potassium (K) - very low

I found some great information about the quality of garden soil to help me learn about these necessary nutrients HERE
In response to these results, I will be adding more nutrients to my soil in the form of fertilizers and I hope to start a compost system soon as well to add more organic matter.
And those seeds will be planted very soon!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Intentions don't Grow

I had full intentions of planting all the seeds of a potential fall garden today. Unfortunately, the intentions only got as far as putting aside the seed packets that are the lucky winners this season. The ground is tilled and nearly ready, so Monday morning watch out.

My planting plans include:
Cilantro (one of my favorites!)
2 types of lettuce
3 types of tomatoes
Sweet peas (another love)

I think that's it for this year. Keeping it simple so I can ensure a little success. :)
Hope you are planting a garden this season too! I'm so excited to see some green!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Lots of great tomatoes from the 4 little ugly tomato plants that I planted WAY back in October. It's about time for some harvesting! Every other day or so, I get a bunch like these...

I have to pick the tomatoes before the little red and black bugs get to them. 
Many of the tomatoes look like this on the plant:

Monday, April 2, 2012

April Green - Garden Journal

The citrus tree blossoms have come and mostly gone. They smelled wonderful and the bees were busy. Last week I took out a few remaining lettuce plants because they were seeding and were no longer crisp leaves. The weather is now warm enough that my 4 tomato plants are beginning to produce and the plants are growing a lot too. They look healthy. The sweet pea plant is still producing though the vines are beginning to look dried and yellowed. The cilantro is producing more flowers than good flavorful leaves now. The spinach plants are great meals and homes for caterpillars looking to gain their wings soon. That has been fun to show my daughter the different stages of caterpillar, cocoon and moth. I love the limited time that I have had outside. Unfortunately cats destroyed my few mounds of zuchinni seeds, so I will have no new plants to watch grow for this season. I look forward to some tomatoes soon.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

It's March!

I love this time of year! It's so beautiful in our backyard. Here's some of what's going on back there.

I have made so many crisp delicious salads with my lettuce this year and I still have a lot of lettuce growing. I love having fresh lettuce in my garden. 
The spinach is doing great too and I've been using it in green smoothies lately.

I trimmed my existing zucchini plants because most of the leaves had withered and turned white but the plant still looked alive. I planted some additional zucchini seeds last week, and I still want to plant some other seeds in the next week, but I haven't decided what.

Even though this sunflower has a hard time standing, it continues getting more beautiful each day.
And orange blossoms are on there way!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Harvesting Spinach

I haven't harvested any of my spinach, mainly because I didn't know if it was ready and I didn't really know the best way to do it. I found some helpful information online tonight:

Spinach can be harvested in the cut and come again method of harvesting lettuce. Cut individual leaves, starting with the older, outer leaves, and letting the young inner leaves remain and continue growing for a later harvest. You can also cut down the whole plant, for a larger harvest. If you cut about an inch above the crown or base of the plant, it is very likely the plant will send out a new flush of leaves. 

About Spinach
Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that grows best in cool weather. Usually thought of as being packed with iron, spinach is even higher in vitamins A and C, thiamin, potassium and folic acid (one of the B complex vitamins). Spinach, like most dark green leafy vegetables, also contains the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Oh, and it tastes great eaten fresh or cooked.
All spinach is grown for its dark green leaves. While there are many different spinach varieties with an assortment of leaf shapes and textures, spinach is usually divided into 2 major categories: Smooth Leaf and Savoy, with darker, thicker, crinkled leaves. Since they’ve been crossbred so much, it’s often hard to categorize them. Small leafed spinach or baby spinach has gained in popularity recently. These are not necessarily immature spinach leaves, but varieties that simply don’t get large. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Beautiful Growth

I love my garden. I haven't had much time with it lately, but it still is providing us with great lettuce, cilantro, sweet peas, a few flowers, zucchini and spinach. Thank you garden. Sorry about all your weeds. :)

Sweet Pea Vines and sad looking tomato plants

Cilantro and zucchini plant with some freeze damage