The State of My Garden

Some of you will remember that this spring, I decided to attempt container gardening rather than planting my usual backyard garden.  I just wanted to follow up on that and let you know how things are going.

I’ve had a lot of losses.  Many of my herbs were lost to our cat…um…making use of the pots while they were in our sun room on chilly nights.  Onions and radishes died after failed transplantation.  And…in a complete oversight on my part, I failed to put drainage holes in our new squash containers when I transplanted them.  After a huge rain…they drowned.  RIP, squash.  You’ll be missed.  Luckily, some of the sibling squash plants survived my silliness and it seems that we’ll still have squash coming out of our ears.

Our jalapeno plants are producing like crazy and I’m really, really looking forward to fresh pico de gallo.  And stuffed peppers on the grill.  Mmmmmmm.

And look at this baby bell pepper.  I love it!

My only surviving herbs are basil and cilantro.  I’ve harvested the cilantro recently, so no photos of that….but the basil sure is purdy….and in need of thinning.

Eggplant plants are growing nicely but are nowhere near producing.

We’ve already enjoyed our first tomato and we are waiting on more, more, more!  Unfortunately, a couple of our tomato pots weren’t draining properly either, so we’ve got lots of yellow leaves.  I’m hoping to nurse them back to health and enjoy tomatoes all summer long!

So, while this container gardening thing doesn’t seem to be my cup of tea, I’m not giving up.  What survivors I have will thoroughly be enjoyed and in the meantime, my kids are enjoying the process as much as I am.  That’s the good stuff, baby.

If you’re gardening this year, will your share with me what you’re growing and what ups and downs you’ve experienced in your gardening efforts?

Container Gardening Part One

I’ve never dabbled in container gardening,  most likely because I have plenty of room to have an in-ground garden.  This season, though, I decided to try this gardening method that’s been around for many years but is new for me.  I’m going to share my progress and my methods along the way.  Not because I know what I’m doing, but so that you can learn from my mistakes and successes.

Our family dedicated yesterday to dirt.  We gathered supplies at the store and headed home to begin.  Shayne worked on cleaning out and mulching flower beds while the kids and I got started on our garden.

Getting started:

Containers.  Now, we’re starting with classic pots and planters, but you can use anything, really.  I’ve seen old cowboy boots, reusable shopping bags, potato bags, old wheelbarrows and bathtubs…you get the idea.  I intend to keep an eye out for fun planters later, but for now…the basics.

Potting soil.  I grabbed these bags of organic soil intended for veggies.

I didn’t realize until I’d already begun that they were intended for in-ground use.  Oopsy.  I’m going with it anyway.

Plants and seeds…

Drain holes.  Some pots already have holes, some have perforated areas to be punched out as necessary, and old boots and bags will need holes punched in them.  I used a screwdriver and punched out some holes.

I lined the bottom of the pots with newspaper.  This will keep the soil in and let excess water drain out.

Next up:  time to fill the pots with potting soil.

Then we planted.  Follow the directions on the package.  Most seed packages won’t have directions for container gardening, so be flexible.  I planted extra seeds in each of my containers and then I’ll thin out the plants at they begin to grow.

And here is our container garden in its infancy:

The pots line either side of the walk just outside our back door.  That’s one big plus of container gardening:  easy access!  It’s right outside of our office window so that I can keep a close eye on the plants and it will discourage small animals from invading.

What did we plant, you ask?

Tomatoes (Celebrity and Patio.  Patio tomatoes are cherry-type tomatoes that are supposed to thrive in containers.)

Eggplant (black beauty)

Yellow Squash

Radishes

Jalapenos

Green onions

And….I’m trying herbs for the first time.  They may move into our sunroom.  We’ll see.

Cilantro

Rosemary

Basil

Oregano

We may add more in the coming weeks, but for now I think we’re off to a good start!

Do you garden?  Is it in-ground or container gardening?  Feel free to share success stories!

P.S.– I have a couple of gardening gurus in the family who cannot be stumped!  Hey Aunt Cathy, what have I done wrong so far? ;)

My garden is planted!

Thanks to my gnomes, I was finally able to get my seeds in the ground today. It’s really a late start for a garden here in North Texas, but I chose the veggies that were more likely to survive my tardiness. Before too long, we’ll have squash, green beans, black-eyed peas, cucumbers, okra and peppers. Oh yeah…tomatoes, too. Small tomatoes–grape ones and yellow pear ones.

I’m looking sooo forward to my ooey gooey cheesey squash, fried okra, stuffed peppers and fresh, crisp beans. Oh, MAN, am I ready! There is just nothing quite like fresh garden veggies! Let’s just hope I’m able to keep them all alive and producing in this heat!

Oh…quick gnome update. I asked my neighbor if maybe the gnomes would like dinner as a thank you for tilling my garden. He said that they happen to LOVE my buffalo chicken strips, so it looks like I’ll be making lots of those tomorrow night!

On another note, I’m excited another auction that Diane from Pampered Bunz and I are doing this week. It’s a Mickey Mouse outfit this time and I’m going to have a really hard time parting with it! Here’s a little preview of my contribution to the set (Elliott thoroughly enjoyed modeling it for me!)…

Another random thought…my town is having a cajun festival this weekend and I’m kind of excited about that! That in itself is funny, because Shayne and I have really become pretty reclusive lately and the chances of us actually going and facing the crowd are pretty slim. Maybe I’ll just buy a box of Zatarain’s and call it a day.

***Pampered Bunz is now Doodle Bunz!

Gnomes!!!

Yep. Gnomes.

Our next door neighbors are a very sweet and wonderful couple. They are kind, fascinating, hard working people that I have tons of respect for. It’s a great thing to have good neighbors, you know it? We have lots of them. Mainly retired widows and retired lesbian couples.

But this particular non-lesbian couple have a love for gnomes. They collect them. There are gnomes of all shapes, sizes and expressions both in their home and in their yard. Ceramic ones, plastic ones, you name it. They’re cute little dudes that bring a smile to my face.

But, you see….the neighbors tell us there are other gnomes. Real, live gnomes. And they live in our two back yards. They tell us that they mainly protect us from bad spirits, sometimes they take off with toys and small items….and sometimes they leave surprises and do random kind acts.

This brings us to my garden. I had marked off the perimeter of my garden with the hoe. It isn’t enormous, but when you plan to turn the soil manually, the job can be very overwhelming. One evening, Shayne and I had begun shoveling and turning the soil and finished one small section before it was time to call it a night.

The next day, I went out to water the dirt and soften it up…..and what do I discover?

The area we had worked with the shovel was turned better. Deeper. And a larger area was done.

I convinced myself that I’m just crazy and that we either did more than we thought we did, or that Shayne had come back out and done more while I was busy with the kids.

Neither of these were the case.

Our neighbor saw me out there and said with a wink that he had seen gnomes in our garden and they were acting awfully suspicious! I told him what they had apparently been up to back there and he said that he really suspected that while we weren’t looking, the gnomes would be making another visit to finish off the job.

All the while, there’s a new, shiny tiller sitting about 10 feet behind him.

Hmmm….

I’ll just say….I really like having gnomes! They do good work! Just look…

While I was out taking pics of the gnomes’ handiwork, I thought I’d show you my baby zinnias, too. They are coming up beautifully. Zinnias are tough, tough flowers. They can survive the mean Texas heat and don’t need just a whole lot of water. These will be about 18 inches tall and just full of big gorgeous blooms…

And…my most producing little strawberry plant had a pretty little bloom on it this morning…blinding, really.

I’ve never been much of a green thumb, but I’m really giving it my best shot this time around. Wish me lots of luck, flowers, fruits and veggies!

A day in the country

Today the kids and I went out to my Mom’s house in the country. She bought some cattle yesterday and the kids love seeing the baby calves, so we headed out to check out the newbies. The babies were precious. There was one little white one who, while he was nursing, stuck his tail straight up in the air and hooked the very tip of it over in the shape of a candy cane. When he would get really excited, he’d flick it back and forth really fast. I love how exciting babies of all kinds get about mommy’s milk. Once he was done, he took off running, bucking and playing. Life is good when you’re a calf.

Alex helped Grandma plant some black-eyed peas in her enormous garden. It’s so fun to put those seeds in and know that before long, we’ll all be eating fresh, yummy veggies. Her squash and green beans are already sprouting and promising to be a great crop! Alex looked like a natural out there.

Actually, he looked like a city boy stuck in the country and wanted his MP3 player while he worked. Mean ol’ Mommy did not allow it.

Then I remembered that I needed some hay to put around my strawberry plants here at home. Alex, in full swing of farmerhood at this point, got out of the truck, grabbed a pitchfork and went to town. He and Grandma successfully bagged up some hay for me. Elliott and I waited in the truck and I swelled with pride at seeing my little man use a pitchfork like a real pro. Something so wholesome about it. Something so…real.

Just when he thought his work was done and we were driving away from the hay, I glanced out the truck window and spotted a fine specimen of dried cow manure. I thought to myself, “What better way to organically fertilize our strawberries!!!”

I quickly stopped the truck and Alex got back out with a bucket and a pitchfork. He worked hard and fast (with Grandma’s supervision) and collected us a heap of cow patties.

Oh, the berries we will have!

After finishing up our visit over cookies and milk back at the house, we headed home. For 45 long highway minutes, we traveled. With cow poop in tow. Oh, the smell. Oh….the smell. Because, you see, I don’t drive a long-bed farm truck. I drive an SUV. Shewwwweeeeee!

Now…

Two things:

1) I am furious with myself for leaving my camera in Grandma’s house during our adventure. You can imagine the fantastic photo opps that were missed. I’m really very upset about it.

2) It sounds like I was being terribly lazy and making my 6-year-old son do all the work. I had 2 very important jobs, though. I was driving the farm truck and that’s a serious job. The other was keeping Elliott in the truck out of the wind. It was gusting terribly and brought a yucky chill with it. I worked hard to keep her protected. Worked hard in that warm, safe, windless truck.