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Weekend Garden Update

After a few weeks off, we’re back with an update of what’s going on in the garden!

Our tomato plants are completely loaded, but every time I tried to take a picture of the tomatoes, my camera flipped out, so I have no tomato photos.

many jalapenos 08162014
I do have plenty of jalapenos growing. My spicy peppers seem to be doing much better than my sweet peppers. I am going to have tons of jalapenos, cayennes, and tabascos.

tiny cucumber 08162014
The cucumbers keep producing, but we’re at the time of year when you have to pick them fast, or they go bitter.

amaryllis belladonna perhaps
And we have more surprise flowers.

clump o amaryllis
Now I know absolutely nothing about flowers. The wild sunflower is the state flower of Kansas, after that, I’m out. So I had no idea what these were even though they are popping up in just about every yard in my neighborhood right now.

amaryllis in my yard
According to a google search, they appear to be Amaryllis belladonna, but I wouldn’t count on me to pick out edible plants in the wilderness, if you know what I mean. They’re very pretty, though they kind of smell like baby poop (or at least something in their vicinity smells very strongly of baby poop.) Anybody know if I’m right?

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Weekend Garden Update


The garden continues to grow, in both the size and number of plants. Last Sunday we worked in the garden all afternoon, and I have the sunburn on the back of my neck to prove it.

Aside from weeding, we trellised the tomatoes and the cucumbers.

tomato trellis
We haven’t tried to get rid of the clover that’s between the beds, we do mow it and attempt to keep it from creeping into the beds, which it really wants to do, and with all the compost we added to the soil, I don’t blame it. This clover is awash with bees. The buzz along side us as we work, and it’s so much fun to see them. It’s no secret that I want my own hive(s) at some point, but with my small yard and, you know, the fact that we don’t own this house. I don’t fancy asking the landlord about bringing hundreds of bees onto the property when he was very skeptical of our one, very tidy cat.

After finally preparing the good ole Earth Boxes we used at the apartment, I go the pepper seedlings in. We have three sweet and three spicy planted. We grew one pepper plant last year, but because of all the moving, we never harvested any of the peppers. They were spicy edibles, but we mostly ended up using it as an ornamental plant, so these plants will yield our first pepper harvest. It’s hard to make out in the photo, but somehow, one of our seedlings got fertilized while it was sitting in the dining room window, waiting for us to get our act together (this isn’t that much of a shock, we live the door open most of the weekend to allow the cat to come and go, so a bee or two sneaking in isn’t that surprising.) We should have our first ripe cayenne pepper soon!

One of the advantages of continuing to use our Earth Boxes, is that setting them up in line with the current garden rows starts setting up a new row for next year.
The boxes are very effective at killing the grass.

This is a zucchini plant. It’s hard to tell, really, because what I suspect must be a little rabbit friend, keeps eating it down to the barest stems, letting it grow a couple of feeble leaves, and then eating it down again. There is evidence of some other bunny grazing throughout the garden, but this seems to be its favorite plant. It’s still coming back though, hardy little plant.

This is the nibbled zucchini from the top.

Just for comparison, this is the zucchini plant that lives next door.

For now, we aren’t doing much about the rabbit. It seems to prefer the one plant, and really, putting up a second fence (the whole yard is fenced) around the whole garden seems a bit extreme just yet. We’ll see how the season progresses.

Perhaps the most exciting news of all, is that we visited the local garden store today and brought home a blackberry bush!
My grandparents always raised blackberries. We used to go over to their house and pick blackberries in the summer. My grandmother made blackberry jelly for us every year and the most amazing blackberry cobbler…it’s still one of my favorite desserts. Blackberries are part of my fondest childhood memories, and I’ve always wanted to grow my own.

My sketches of possible garden plans last fall when we first signed the lease for this house included blackberry bushes all along the southern fence line. (There is room for five or six bushes.) I knew then that blackberry bushes like I bought today ran about $25-$35 each, so five or six bushes in one year was completely unrealistic unless that’s all I was planting. We came away with one today, but I plan on adding at least one more next year. I look forward to picking blackberries with my sons, and making them jellies and cobblers to remember as they grow older.

This week’s harvest saw the first of our decent-sized carrots and the last of the turnips. I still have a few beets in the ground, but I’m pulling them today so we can mow over the bed and replant it with pumpkins for the fall harvest.

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Summer Balcony Garden 2013

Like most folks around here, we got a late start on our summer garden this year. Because of late cold weather and the impending threat of hail everyday for two weeks in May, we didn’t plant until Memorial Day. (Usually I shoot for Mother’s day at the latest.) So this year’s garden is a little smaller than it usually is by this time.


The other thing that’s different about this year, is that we have Minerva, who has been attempting to escape from our second floor balcony ever since it got warm enough to go outside. Minerva loves to be out on the balcony. It is her own little jungle, and we have done our best to make this year’s garden a safe and friendly place for the cat to be.

First step was to create barriers so she could not actually jump off the railing. Here, we collected glass jugs filled with water so she couldn’t jump up on this side. This also doubles as a way to warm the water we give the plants with sunlight.

Next was to further secure our usual trellis. Instead of tying it to the inside of railing, this year it is tied to the outside so Minerva can sit on the railing securely without the possibility of losing her balance. (She has grown more graceful in the last few months, but she is still a kitten, and sometime pretty clumsy.) You can see the old scrap wood Brock reinforced the trellis with and the scrap yarn used to block the holes at the railing, because she can fit through the trellis there. Of course, we also gave her a high seat for bird and people watching.

All of the world, as far as she can see, is hers.

There is just as much to watch on the balcony.

Until yesterday, we had a clutch of baby birds living in this spider plant. She was very keen to catch them, and catch them she did. Two out of four got away safely, one we got away from her before she was able to do any damage, but she did get one before we realized they were leaving the nest, and the poor thing didn’t make it. She was also very upset when we took it away from her.

Under Minerva’s throne, we planted the cucumbers, which are growing vigorously.

They are wearing little cup braces until the get rooted enough that Minerva can’t overturn them when she stalks through that container. Last year, we only got one cucumber before the heat shriveled up our vine. This year, I planted six plants in the hope that we get at least six cucumbers.

The potatoes, which are next to the shelf, have not been so lucky. The potato bag has been a favorite place to bird watch, and I’m fairly certainly Minerva could care less about trampling potatoes. (I also planted them very late, so I didn’t expect much from them, but thought I might as well give it a shot since I had them.)

Next to the shelf, on the garden table, we have our paste tomato plant on the right and our Japanese eggplant on the left. Last year we had great luck with eggplant, so I put it in exactly the same place this year. (Some spider plant starts are in the pot. We’ve got a ton if anybody wants any.)

While I only have this horrendous picture of it, I am trying my luck with a pepper plant this year. I have never done peppers before. This is a tobasco pepper, and I’m hoping to make my own version of tobasco sauce at the end of the season.

Two more tomato plants. Brandywine on the left and Mortgage Lifters on the right. For awhile, I didn’t think the Mortgage Lifter was going to make it, but in the last few days, it has taken off so quickly I can’t seem to keep up with pruning the bottom branches. You can also see our basil in the little terracotta pot. I harvested a bunch last night for the pasta I made, so it looks a bit wimpy this morning.

We also planted some sage for the first time this year. It’s tasty.

Athrun’s mint is threatening to overrun it’s pot. I need to harvest some and dry it for tea. Mostly, we just munch on the leaves occasionally.

I am excited to see what sort yield we get from these plants. I am so ready for fresh tomatoes, I can’t wait to be up to my eyeballs in them!

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2013 Balcony Garden

The balcony garden is officially started. Not everything is planted yet, nor do we even have all of our seeds or seedlings, but we got the balcony fully de-winterized this weekend and a bunch of stuff planted. It’s only a matter of time before we are resting cool behind our food-bearing wall-o-green ™.

First, the peas I planted a few weeks have finally started to come up. I swear they have grown three inches since Saturday. (You’ll also notice that we are using Hefty bags instead of Earthbox approved mulch covers. As much as I love my Earthboxes, I am not paying $15 a mulch cover for every planting when a garbage bag and duct tape serves the same purpose. We used this method last year as well.)



These are summer seedlings, and will likely live inside another month before they get Earthboxed.




Our herbs so far are basil, mint (for Athrun), and sage. Has anyone ever had luck with oregano? It has never grown enough for me to do much with. What are your favorite herbs to grow?