Thursday, April 29, 2010

Exhausted...

...and nothing to show for it! My husband and I went to the Jimmy Buffett concert on Tuesday - I don't think I have to explain the reason for my exhaustion in any more detail!

It's been a whirlwind of activity around here lately with school, and work, and some minor home repairs. The weekend before last I planted my veggie bed with various squashes and melons. They are finally sprouting, so I'll post some pictures soon.
There was also a tiny little harvest I need to tell you about. You are well overdue for a proper update!

In the mean time, I am contemplating petitioning our HOA board for approval for a bigger garden next year. It will have to be aesthetically pleasing and budget friendly and made of raised beds. Do you know where I can find good design ideas?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Around The Garden

Here's a quick tour of my pathetic "garden".. Hopefully things will start looking better soon!!

My romaine is regrowing after the vicious bunny attack:




And so is the buttercrunch:


My tomato and pepper seedlings have been repotted. They still need to grow a bit before I plant them in their 5 gallon containers, but I'm gradually hardening them off now:




And now for a glance at the sad, sad sterilite garden. All of these veggies were either transplanted or planted from seed SIX weeks ago. Slow growth - such agony..

Here are the herbs that remain after the bunny attack.. just some parsley.


The onions and radishes are looking okay:




Lettuce:


I swear there are carrots growing in here, although I'm concerned that if they actually become real carrots, they won't have much room to grow. It seems that my "soil" has compacted a bit, and perhaps some has eroded through the holes in the bottom, because there are now about 3 inches of headspace where there used to be only one. Next year - if I do this again next year - I'll fill the containers and water a few times before planting.


The buttercrunch transplants (that I started myself) are finally doing something:


And look! Basil seedlings! Although, again, it has taken 6 weeks for them to get this big:


Some pak choi and lettuce seedlings (direct sown):


The pak choi tranplants are growing a bit, but they don't look very healthy to me:


The cucumber plant I purchased two weeks ago is doing pretty well. There are currently 8 cukes-in-progress and it looks like I may have more soon, however it looks like something is enjoying nibbling on the leaves:




The cherry tomato plant I purchased at the same time is doing well also. Currently, there are about 20 little green orbs that just can't ripen fast enough!!


And lastly, my most recent garden purchase. My husband and I had to run to home depot to pick up a new faucet for the kitchen sink. I couldn't leave there with out this new addition - a jalopeno plant. I rationalized it because previously I only had sweet pepper plants. My poor husband is certainly beginning to realize I have an addiction. I wonder how long it will take him to ship me off to rehab.

Caterpillars

Yesterday, they were the bane of my existence...



Today, they're family pets....




Allow me to introduce you to Speedy, who is shy and hiding in the jar:


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Today in the Garden

I had intended to till the soil in the garden bed and plant all my squash seeds. Half way through, I was so freaked out by the number of bugs in the dirt that I had to stop and take a shower. I still feel itchy. I know I should be grateful for beneficial insects and all they do for my garden, but truth be told - I really hate bugs. At first it was the paper wasps, buzzing around me while looking for materials to build their nest. I was tempted to locate that nest and erradicate them, however I'm holding out hope that they'll use the hornworms (that are no doubt only a few weeks away) to feed their young. Then it was the white grubs, which I naively mistook for beneficial worms - a quick google images search nipped that in the bud. I only saw two, however I'm sure there are more.. I saw lots and lots of ants and pill bugs - very typical for Georgia. And then. And then.. Every time I turned over another shovel full of soil, I found dozens of little white bugs desperately searching to find a way back underground. I wasn't certain what these were at first, but after some research, I'm pretty sure they're termites. Joy of joys. Are all of these bugs the result of more organic matter in my soil? Part of me is wondering if I should introduce some nematodes to the mix to help keep all the creepy crawlies in check. Has anyone had any experience with this?

In other news, I was pretty certain I had killed my beloved meyer lemon tree. A few months ago temperatures were in the 60s and they were predicting snow the next afternoon. The weather was too beautiful and I wasn't buying this threat of snow, so I left the tree outside. Of course, it snowed, and this is what my lovely lemon tree looked like after the snow melted:












What a sad sight - I was certain I'd killed it. But guess what??? We have new leaves!!










Turns out it didn't die after all. Who knows if I'll get a crop this year, but I can be patient - and more careful next year.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Impending Doom

..or the beginnings of a little garden victory?






I'll be honest.. I'm not looking forward to finding out...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Feeling Disappointed

“Our desires always disappoint us; for though we meet with something that gives us satisfaction, yet it never thoroughly answers our expectation.” - Elbert Hubbard


On the heels of yesterday's harvest photos, I'm feeling a little blue this morning. You see, that harvest was from the transplants I purchased from the local hardware store. It does look like I'll get one or two more salads out of them, but that will probably be it. I planted dozens and dozens of greens seeds - buttercrunch, a looseleaf mix, even pak choi - and even though they've germinated, they aren't growing. I've tried giving them full sun, partial sun, more water, less water, fish emulsion. Nothing seems to be working - and I think they're doomed to spend eternity as tiny little sprouts. The same thing seems to be happening with my carrots. They've sprouted, but just won't grow. Our high temperatures have been in the low 80's. Perhaps that's the reason?

I was really looking forward to more crisp, fresh salads straight from the garden, and I was hoping to offset some of this year's garden costs with lettuce harvests, as we eat salads at least once a week. Is there anything else I can try? Is there any hope?

Monday, April 12, 2010

My First Harvest Monday - April 12, 2010

It's my first official harvest of the season!!


A whopping 4 ounces of buttercrunch:





And 1 ounce of chives:





The buttercrunch made for the best salad in recent memory. I can't wait for another one!! And the good news - At this rate, I'll break even on my garden expenses by 2072!!



This post is part of Daphne's Harvest Monday. Join in the fun here!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Instant Gratification - For Shame!

Today's mission was simple: Run to the hardware store to pick up some small pots for my tomatoes and peppers. Just pots. Maybe some soil. That's it.

But you know me better than that....


I made it in and out of Home Depot successfully. They didn't have what I needed, and so I was able to ignore the rows and rows and rows of beautiful vegetable plants begging for a place in my yard.

It was Pike's Nursery that did me in. I tried my best to utilize every ounce of tunnel vision I could muster, but when the clerk had to get what I needed out of storage, the bounty surrounding me won over. All at once, I was consumed by dozens of herbs - full grown basil and rosemary and lemon grass and lavender... Then there were aisles full of tomatoes and peppers in quite surprising varieties (they had heirlooms!!). They even had an enormous display full of Meyer Lemon Trees and Navel Orange Trees - I could have brought home a whole orchard. Somehow I mustered the strength to push my cart past all these temptations, and the blueberry, blackberry, and strawberry plants just screaming to bear luscious fruit in my backyard.

And then I saw these, dripping with fruit and blossoms, and I was a gonner:




Just an ordinary cucumber plant and an ordinary cherry tomato plant. But the promise of fresh cukes and tomatoes on my plate in just a few weeks was all it took to get me to hand over my credit card - at fourteen bucks a pop.















It was instant gratification, and now I'm slightly ashamed by my lack of patience and will power...


Monday, April 5, 2010

The Damage

Here are some photos of the damage I found yesterday evening. I apologize for the terrible pictures - I thought I had taken some in the daylight, but apparently use of a memory card slipped my mind (pesky little detail).

Fortunately, one beautiful pot of buttercrunch remains. This is what it looks like (and what the others used to look like):



And now:





A Week Ago:



And Now:



A Week Ago:



Now:





I didn't venture out to take photos of the rest of the lettuce, cilantro, and peas (these were the plants on my porch) but you can take my word for it - it's not a pretty sight!

I haven't decided on a plan of attack yet, although I'll probably go with chicken wire first. Mark my words, cute little bunny cheeks - You've nibble your last CM lettuce!

Devastation by Easter Bunny

My spirits are down but rage is taking over. Pictures will follow tonight. Lettuces are 90% gone. Cilantro severely damaged. Pea sprouts - 100% gone (I heard they were delicious, apparently the Easter Bunny agrees). The offender is big, fat, and fluffy. Presumably last year's Peter Cottontail.

I am currently plotting my revenge and debating the purchase of a BB Gun this afternoon. I heard that will do the trick. More finite (and less expensive) than yards and yards of chicken wire..

Perhaps it's barbaric, but it's more important for my family to eat those fresh, healthy, organic greens... Thoughts?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Panic Sets In

This morning I was examining my tomato seedlings and all but 4 of the 60 germinated! (I'll post a comprehensive list of varieties and germination rate soon.) They are starting to get their first set of true leaves and are looking a bit leggy (wish it was me looking leggy instead) so I'll need to repot them this weekend. I only have one grow light, so I hope that the grow light plus some window light will be enough to keep them happy while they're indoors. I'm not quite sure when to start hardening them off - maybe next weekend? Of course, this means that they are growing (which is a good thing), so not only will they need temporary pots, but permanent containers, soil, and tomato cages as well and that means I'll be shelling out a bit more dough. I need to calculate everything I've spent so far, but I'm really hoping the veggies pay for themselves this year!

Also on my mind is the sole raised bed that will be used for squash and melons. I checked planting dates for my zip code this morning, and the recommended dates for summer squash, cucumbers, and pumpkins (the cukes and pumpkins will need containers also) is April 5-12, which means I'll be planting those next weekend. Unfortunately it looks like the mystery seedlings won't have time to grow into much before the squash takes over. The recommended dates for melons are April 12-19, but I'll probably go ahead and plant them on the 11th along with everything else. And while looking at the dates, I realize that I MISSED the optimal planting date for my beans - it was March 29th! I was entirely unaware, but I think they'll be okay for planting next weekend as well. Next year I'll be more intentional about my planting dates.

There is so much to do and it always seems like spring is the busiest time of year (until fall rolls around and then I'll claim that there is absolutely no busier time known to man). Once everything is in its home, gardening will only take a few minutes of my time each day. Unless I get those bumper harvests I'm crossing my fingers for.. Then I'll get to spend more time in the kitchen preserving (which I absolutely love).

Which brings me to another point. I'm looking for a comprehensive day planner. Something to keep track of gardening dates along with all of my other commitments. Month-at-a-glance with a full page per day for tasks that can be replaced every year. Permanent address book and birthday pages. Bonus points if it includes space for menu planning and grocery lists. Plus - it needs to be cute AND fit in my purse. Do you have any suggestions?