Garden 2012 – Update

June 26, 2012

Garden June 2012

June 19, 2012

So it’s been about three weeks since our last update. (Vacation and work are both very good things!)  As you can see, everything is coming up beautifully.  The nasturtiums have their first blooms.  Not only are they deterrents for pests, but can be eaten in salads (flowers, too) and have been used medicinally as a treatment for flu.  The green beans are doing wonderfully though they are a popular ground for slugs.  Keeping slug traps does help, however, slug hunting can be a relaxing and satisfying meditation….just sayin’.

With all the rain we had over the last few weeks, the okra has been a little water-logged.  Still growing, just not as quickly.  I added an organic fertilizer this past weekend.  Holding off on watering for the time being.  Ground squirrels are afoot and so a product called “Repels-All” seems to have had a positive effect.  It’s the most foul-smelling albeit natural, organic product I have ever used.  It is supposed to deter all kinds of critters like rabbits, dear, etc.  So far so good  (and so stinky!)

Our experimental pepper/tomato bed is doing great as well.  We have romas, mountain pride, and box car willies.  The romas and mountain pride are the most prolific. So much so that I have taken several suckers from them and stuck them in the ground and fertilized.   They are quite happy.  I’ll let you know if they bloom. The tomatoes and peppers we started from seed have also begun to show more signs of life.  I added organic fertilizer to them and even though they aren’t as big as the purchased plants, I believe we may see some blooms before long.

Peppers and tomatoes

The cucumbers on both rows have caught up to one another and are blooming as well.  The limas have taken to the poles we put out, and we officially have peas.  Probably another week and we will have our first harvest.  The nasturtiums in these beds have not bloomed yet, but they don’t get as much sun as the others in the green bean bed.  The peas and bean bed has required the least attention in terms of fertilizer and have not shown signs of too much water.

Cucumbers in bloom

Oh, I also took some cuttings from an oregano plant I have on the screen porch, set them in a small bud vase until they sprouted roots and stuck them in the ground with the cucumbers and beans. Very happy so far!  Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Oregano from clippings

Our squash barrels are doing great.  I had to put some slug traps in them  and that has worked well.  Moving them to a sunnier location was what the doctor ordered.

The most exciting thing to me so far has been the survival and growth of the herbs planted from seed.  We truly thought they were goners, but the lavender, holy basil, sweet basil, purple basil, yarrow, cilantro, feverfew (this year’s) have definitely turned a corner and show more growth every day.  Wahoo!  I did add some of the organic fertilizer and they ate it up!

All the eggplants are happy and have pretty lavender blooms on them.  Looking forward to some roasted veggie dip with those!

Eggplants in bloom

The main tomato bed is not getting as much sun as needed.  It seems the pear tree is shading it part of the day.  We’ll probably prune it this weekend and see what happens.

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So the tomatoes and peppers we started from seed have come to a screeching halt in their development.  They aren’t dead, just stopped growing, so we decided to purchase some plants and put them in the ground, because as much as we wanted this to work and say we did it from seeds, we want peppers and tomatoes more….not giving up on the seeds, though. We’ll keep you posted.

We were able to find heirloom varieties of romas, rutgers tomatoes and bell peppers.  The plants make the garden look complete as you can see all the other veggies from seed are growing like crazy!

Limas, peas, cukes

This bed has lima beans, in the center, cukes on the right and left borders and peas up front.  I also planted the seeds starters of some of the herbs just to see how it goes.  You will never know unless you try right?  The fevervew and the yarrow went in this morning and even if they don’t produce this year, we know what happened to the feverfew last year!

Okra and marigolds

Okra and marigolds are doing well also but might have gotten a bit too much water with the rain we’ve had.  Some of the leaves are turning yellow, but overall they look great.  The marigolds are holding their own in spite of a serious slug infestation.  After picking at least 20 slugs off the marigolds last week, I have not seen any more and even the yellow marigolds are starting to bloom again on one of the other beds.  I guess that’s their sacrifice for the rest of the veggies.

Green beans

Here are the green beans (see below), also planted form seed.  After yesterday’s breakfast of scrambled eggs, etc., I put the eggshells in the beds, just smashed up.  They help with the slug situation as well.

There isn’t a picture but I also got ambitious and bought a couple of blueberry bushes.  They are in a large pot as we need to keep them mobile for now.  Also on the lookout for some elderberry bushes as well.  I would love to make some elderberry syrup this fall!  The new moon is a great time for planting your above ground crops, so don’t think it’s too late!  After the full moon, we’ll plant the rest of the carrots, too.

Garden 2012

So all I will say is HOLY SPROUT! the pictures included are all of things we planted either one week ago Sunday (8 days ago) or Tuesday (6 days ago).  As most of you know, we’ve had a significant amount of rain and the seeds LOVED IT!

Greens beans 6 days old

The green beans were planted on Sunday in the mid to late afternoon.  They grew so ferociously they even turned over one of the glass slug traps we had.

Nasturtiums 2 weeks

The Nasturtiums, which we planted to deter squash bugs and other pests, shot up immediately (planted about two weeks ago) and are very happy in their cinder block homes.  The ones we planted in barrels with the squash have not come up yet but were planted just one week ago.

Peas after 6 days

We planted peas on Tuesday evening.  This is Monday morning and this is what they’re up to.

Cucumbers and lima beans

The peas are in the same bed as the cucumbers (long row starting at top left corner of this pic) and the lima beans (center).

Missing yellow marigolds

This morning, I noticed many of the marigolds had been eaten by something, flower, leaves and all.  Notice a pattern?  They only ate the yellow ones which were planted in every other hole…  Sticking with orange next year and I suppose tomorrow I will plant orange ones where the yellows once stood.

On Friday, (5/11) I reseeded box car willies and some Brandywine tomatoes where there are none in the original seed pots.  Also added a fwe seeds to the pots growing bell peppers.

The carrots I planted in the pepper bed have gone wild and I think every seed has produced a sprout.  I figured I would cover the soil with them and thin them out later.  Happy Monday everyone!

Garden 2010

This first entry will be more lengthy than most as we are  recapping what we’ve done since the first of Spring.

Tomato sprouts

We started seeds for tomatoes (Box Car Willies, Romas and Brandywine), bell peppers and several herbs (chamomile, lobelia, passionflower, holy basil, purple basil, sweet basil, cilantro (coriander), thyme, echinacea, chasteberry, feverfew, lavender, and astragalus) on the first day of Spring.  I used an organic seed starter in peat pots and organic heirloom seeds whenever possible.  Since this is the first year starting tomatoes and peppers from seed, we’re extra cautious and very excited.  We saw seedlings appear within days. As long as the pots were kept warm and moist (we had them on the kitchen table by the windows), they did great. A few chamomile seedlings vanished suddenly, (at least Kitty is conscious about her liver health) and needed to be replanted.  We did add a few more seedlings and they came up with the rest without incident.  Don’t let them get cold or dry, and try not to drown them either, they’ll do just fine.

Slug traps catch more than just slugs…

Since we already had the first four beds and built the larger beds last year all we needed to do was replenish the soil.  We added one or two bags of organic garden soil depending on the size of the bed, a bag of peat and a bag of manure to each one, mixed it in well and let it settle since last weekend.  We also used small jars filled halfway with beer to trap slugs.  There were quite a few.  I am amazed how well this worked.  We’ll continue the traps throughout the growing season.

okra, eggplants, marigolds

The seedlings were moved to the screen porch for a few weeks to get used to the warmer weather but also to stay somewhat protected.  With the last frost toward the end of April we’ve had to wait patiently for the ground to warm. The last week or so has provided the heat we needed.  We also purchased okra and eggplants and set them in the garden where they would eventually live.  We put them in the ground Sunday (5/6).  They have been acclimatizing to their new positions nicely.

The planning of the garden was much more extensive as we also expanded the space around the bed to accommodate pots, and we are utilizing companion gardening extensively.  Last year we were first introduced to this concept where specific plants and herbs, etc. like or dislike other plants.  We had planted tomatoes and peppers together two years earlier and had virtually no peppers and scanty tomatoes.  I read where these two plants may not actually like each other (later to find several inconsistencies with this, however…) so last year we separated tomatoes from peppers and had both growing like crazy.  Both were planted with other companion plants (tomatoes and basil, for example), so that could have been the cause of their success as well.  After cross-referencing multiple websites and books on companion planting ( this can drive a person mad…you’ve been warned), we decided to try an experimental bed to see what happens. Below is a list of items in each bed:

Bed 1 (5×5) Green beans, eggplant, nasturtiums (edible flowers which will deter many pests).  A potted sage nearby.

Bed 2 (5×5) Okra, eggplants, french marigolds (also repel pests and critters)

Bed 3 (5×5) Experimental bed – tomatoes, bell peppers, bee balm, nasturtiums, carrots

Bed 4 (5×5) Peppers, eggplant, carrots, onions, chives, chamomile, french marigolds. A pot of three different kinds of mint nearby.

Bed 5 (4×8) Tomatoes, parsley, all three basil varieties listed above, carrots, nasturtiums, pot marigolds

Bed 6 (4×8) Lima beans, peas, cucumbers, thyme, other herbs, nasturtiums

We will attempt growing summer squash in barrels up trellises this year.  So far when growing squash they put out one harvest then go to rot.  The nasturtiums are supposed to assist keeping squash bugs away.

Empty pallet

Another experiment we are looking forward to is pallet gardening.  We will wait until late summer to plant lettuce, kale, and Brussel sprouts, maybe spinach as well.  We simply took a wooden pallet, removed two slats from one side, attached them to create walls where there were none, flipped it upside down to utilize the largest number of rows.

Carrot sprouts

The first four beds are made from cinderblocks and this year we will maximize utilization of this space by using the holes.  Earlier this week I planted marigolds, nasturtiums and even a row or two of carrots (should have waited, but couldn’t resist!) As of the posting of this blog the carrots have already sprouted.

For those of you who follow lunar phases for your activities and herbal preparations, you’ll be excited to know that we also use the lunar cycles for our garden as well.  The full moon time is right for planting all above ground crops, which pretty much means everything but the onions and carrots.  We’ll plant those this week.

Feverfew planted from seed last year

The last step will be mulching the garden paths probably next weekend.

So that’s the update.   Please feel free to share your stories!

Hydrangea