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Ch-ch-changes

After putting it off for a while I finally cleared out my tomatoes to get the other bed ready for fall. I had been putting it off for a while because I was still getting some tomatoes.

They looked like this

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All cracked from the good amount of rain we had.

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This is what that bed looked like when I started.

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This is after the tomatoes were gone, and I was debating what got to stay. There was a good size oregano, and parsley that had split into 2 bunches. I also discovered my jalapeño and Greek pepper plants were in fact still alive. The tomatoes smothered them. I decided to harvest the herbs, I have some in pots on the porch. I left the chard, and peppers. The zucchini is still giving me enough squash to stay.

Here it is all cleared out…

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Lots of room for new plants! I’m going to make a PVC grid for this bed as well as start to put in drip irrigation while it’s all open.

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Garden clearance

On a store stop on the way home today my local grocery store HEB, in a smaller store had garden things on clearance. Namely peat pots, and *gasp* miracle grow on serious discount. The peat pots were $0.24-$0.35 per package.

While many of you are not thinking of spring gardens right now be on the lookout for garden supplies on the cheap. This time of year many big box retailers put garden stuff on clearance. Which can be a huge money saver.

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4 packs less than a dollar. Score!

Garden update

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I have been completely slacking on updating what is been going on with my garden boxes. As you can see from the picture above they look a lot different than last time I updated.

The bed that is now empty I am working on figuring out some form of irrigation for it in preparation for my fall garden.

My husband helped me build a PVC grid that he drilled small holes into in an attempt to form an irrigation system and also a marking system for the different sections. It works awesome for just being a grid. Sadly it sucks as irrigation because my boxes are not level. I think that grid is going to become a trellis.

Those are my tomato bushes that I was about to give in and rip out before I noticed that the entire top third of them are once again covered in fruit. There for a while the heat was so bad that they were flowering they weren’t setting properly. Now it’s back to me vs. the birds for tomatoes.

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Also along the lines of being lazy that is a baby cantaloupe. I picked up the cantaloupe plant on a whim one day at the nursery and forgot to plant it for about a week and ended up sticking in a large pot and setting it off to the side of the garden and forgetting about it. Apparently it was getting enough water to give me one baby cantaloupe.

Right now I am in the process of getting ready to start planting the empty box for my fall garden. November 20 is the average first frost date for where I live. That gives me about 90 days to start for plants that are frost tolerant, or about a month of plants that have about a 60 day plant to harvest time. If I cover when it gets cold, I might have tomatoes for a good while longer!

Garden downtime

I realize it’s been a while since I’ve updated my garden. Quite honestly it’s because it’s been around 100° for the past several weeks and everything has just sort of gone into stationary mode.

The cherry and plum tomato bushes have been producing decently well even with the heat and my lack of constant watering. However the larger variety tomato bush that I had has completely failed. By that I mean while the bush would flower almost continuously the entire time it has produced four tomatoes. It was removed today officially.

Right now I’m waiting for ‘fall’ transplants, and cooler weather.

In the meantime this is what happens when you assume that your cucumber plant is not producing fruit

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Birds vs. tomatoes

I can overlook a lot of minor pest issues in my garden. In fact I’ve been dealing with a prominent fire ant situation that I can’t seem to do anything about.

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But I about had a conniption fit when I walked out to check on my garden on Monday evening and noticed the carnage caused by the mockingbirds. What you see there is the remnants of my tomatoes that I picked off the ground in the garden beds. Apparently the mockingbirds had decided that my tomatoes would be a nice treat in addition to their regular diet of birdseed.

They actually entirely ate some of the cherry tomatoes, but what broke my heart was the random poking and destruction of my large salad tomato that was destined to become a BLT. So I put netting over all of my tomato plants.

It’s not very fine netting, they can still poke through it. It does however severely limit the number and location of the tomatoes that they have access to.

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If you look off to the right of that pictures you can sort of see some of it; I would say that that open spaces are probably quarter inch by quarter inch it’s still pretty open netting.

But you know what? It works!

Garden update 6-4

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First the bad news my sugar snaps did not make it. We had some storms a little while ago that had high winds. The sugar snap trellis that I made had become so top-heavy with the sugar snaps growing up it that it was knocked over enough times to pull their roots up enough to destroy the plants. It’s early enough in that year that I am going to replant them, but first I’m going to figure out a better trellis.

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My tomato plants are doing wonderful the plum and cherry tomatoes are so abundant right now that I can’t eat them all. My coworkers love them.

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In front is my regular tomato bush which is slower than the others but it’s still producing fruit. The incredibly large thing behind it is my dill plant which I’m allowing to go to seed. I am doing this so that next year I will have dill seeds to plant, and I will also have fresh dill seed to continue making pickles over the summer.

Other than that I’ve just been watering my garden on a regular basis because of the heat, I’ve also been adding compost tea and fertilizer. This weekend I’m going to go and add more mulch because a lot of what I had originally put down has broken down enough that it’s no longer serving the purpose of mulch.

My cucumber and squash plants are moving kind of slow right now. I think I planted them late, and the lack of mulch is slowing them down.

Admitting failures

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When I talk about admitting failures in gardening I’m not saying that I don’t have plants that are doing wonderfully and are exceeding my expectations. I’m saying that there comes a point when you need to realize that something that you’ve planted is not working and it’s okay to just pull it up and start over. It’s also okay to admit that you planted something that you don’t like, or don’t care to eat.

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The collard greens are a good example of something I planted that failed despite my efforts. With them I don’t know if it was I planted them too early, in the wrong place, or if it was just a bad batch of seeds. So I just picked a different square of something else that didn’t work out and replanted them to see what happens in a different area, and actually in the other bed.

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Another thing that did not work out for me very well where the onion transplants. For these it could’ve been that I bought them late, did not plant them immediately, or who knows what happened. Either way they completely failed to grow after the first month or so. After a couple of weeks of pulling one or two dead onion stocks out I finally just pulled them all. I decided to plant bunching onions in this one of the squares that they had been. I planted collard greens in the other square in an effort to help give my lettuce square some additional shade as it gets hotter.

I don’t have a picture of my other failed plant. And it was kind of a different situation, I hated the plants growth habit, it was Malabar spinach. It was growing it was doing well, the failure in that plant is that it sends up runners. I didn’t realize when I bought the plant that this is what it was going to do which in this case is my lack of research. After several weeks of going through the garden bed and pulling up spinach sprouts everywhere, I sort of had a little temper tantrum and just ripped them all out.

Another thing that I did today was to go through and work on my succession planting of beets and carrots. While I have not harvested either of these plants there something I am determined to grow successfully.

Garden update 5-14

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Those were my tomatoes last Thursday

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This is what they look like today as you can see once they start to turn yellow and then red it’s a pretty accelerated process. Of everything in my garden my tomatoes seem to be doing the best which I’m really excited about because the way that they taste fresh, still warm from the garden with a little bit of salt on them is like nothing you’re ever going to find in any supermarket. If you can find them please don’t tell. It’ll just make me insanely jealous of you.

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I don’t think that there is anything cuter than a petite baby cucumber. I’m kind of surprised how small the entire plant is in relation to the number of flowers it has on it.

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We had some pretty bad storms here last week. High winds lots of rain, which while the rain was greatly appreciated I’m kind of worried about my sugar snaps. You see the issue with the trellis that I constructed is that as the plants grew up it’s extremely top-heavy. I came outside probably 4 to 5 times and found it just flopped over. I tried putting little stakes in the bottom of it to kind of help anchor it down but the problem with my soil in my garden boxes is that it’s so loose and airy that the stakes don’t really hold on to anything. Lesson learned.

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Just a reminder that is a before and after picture of my cabbage. When I first planted it in the dead center of the square it took up maybe a quarter of the square-foot.

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And finally another failure to report. Those are supposed to be collared greens. I think that they’re doing poorly because they are getting too much shade from the tomato plants during the best sunlight of the day.

I guess the point in all this is that sometimes just trying something will work out in your favor you will be extremely pleased and happy that you did it, and sometimes you look back and realize that that wasn’t very smart.

Color shocks

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With me going out of town last weekend things of been kind of disjointed in me checking on the garden. I’ve known that I have tomatoes coming in for a couple weeks now and then at some point they’re going to start to ripen. I just didn’t expect for it to be this week. Imagine my shock when I go out to look at the garden without my glasses on to just kind of check and I noticed orange blobs in my Tomato bush!

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I noticed that some of the onion tops were no longer green and when I pulled them they came straight off the onion so you see are four tiny pearl onions. I loosely replanted them to see if they will grow again.

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I also noticed I have my first beans coming in. In a week or so we will be feasting on them!

And, because it’s been a long time since I’ve posted to full bed shots here’s what my beds look like now

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I need to go back through my pictures to post sort of a serial progression of things like the cabbage and just the beds in general because it’s hard for me to believe that this time three months ago we were building the boxes

First harvest …. Kind of

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When learning how to attend a garden one of the basic questions other than how and when to water, is when is it ready?! Some plants are very obvious like the tomato turning brilliant red when it’s ready. Some other plants aren’t so obvious. Anything that classifies as a “root vegetable” falls into this category. Beets, turnips, or radishes. What you see above is one of my radishes telling me that it is in fact ready to be plucked. The little white crown started to poke out of the garden bed on Friday evening before I was getting ready go out of town. I figured it would be okay two days from now.

When I got home on Sunday I decided to go ahead and pick that lone radish and the lone banana pepper and taste test them to know what I was getting myself into. The radish was very intense in its spiciness which I guess is what most people expect from a radish. I honestly was very surprised at this flavor from this radish because it’s a variety that they don’t sell in the grocery store. It was a spicy, almost peppery bite to it. I have another radish that I will be able to pick next weekend that I plan on grating with carrots for coleslaw. Don’t worry I’ll take pictures and post a guide; there’s not really going to be a recipe for something like that.

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Above is the radish but I just got done talking about, and my first banana pepper. Honestly, I was more worried about the banana pepper because we usually eat a pickled Greek pepper on sandwiches. While adding flavor those pickled peppers are almost too much for me to eat, and it’s not really that heat is almost like a flavor punch. I was so shocked that this banana pepper had such a mild flavor, it almost didn’t even resemble a pepper it was more like a bell pepper. So, I’m hoping that this banana pepper plant keeps putting out those nice mild sweet peppers. I plan on canning a couple of jars of the sandwich rings, and also doing a banana peppers sort of relish.

Also something that I want to point out to people as their plants are growing. Take the time to look at the plant and if it is something like an herb, or a mint plant or something that is going to thrive as a bushy plant. Locate what is called the terminal bud, it’s the last two set of leaves that are growing out of a branch. If you want your plants to become bushier, or if they getting very leggy and out of control. Take the time especially on certain cooking herbs(thyme, oregano) to go through each stem of the plant and pluck that terminal bud. For me, it is the secret to having very bushy mint plant as well as a catnip plant that is very dense. For a total nerd explanation of why this works, when you pinch off that terminal but it causes the plant to release a hormone that starts to thicken the rest of the plant. It’s natures way of telling the plant stop growing up and start growing out.

Also I promise to take full garden pics. It’s been a while since I did.