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Gardening : Veggie Patch Update #3

September 23, 2011 05:32 by ehouston

In between rounds of hole digging for the new trees I also somehow managed to put together the veggie patch and get some food started this past spring.   At this point, I have already pulled the dead and bolting stuff out of the veggie patch twice and just planted another round of lettuces and spinach.

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I tried to give the tomatoes another week, but they just hung there looking more and more unattractive as their leaves curled up and started to die.  Plus, the fruit was staying green and not really getting any larger, so earlier this week I yanked them out of their cozy little beds and sent them packing.  We had an abundance of tomatoes this summer that we enjoyed immensely.  My only regret is not planting more so I could make sauce for the winter.  This is something I plan to remedy next spring with a garden expansion- hopefully! 

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A couple of Best Boys ripening on the vine earlier this summer.

By the way, I planted three Supersonics and a Best Boy this year.  They grew in a very upright pattern and produced a LOT of fruit.  So much so, that one plant got really heavy and slid down the stake, breaking under the weight.  I employed my usual method of staking and pinching off the suckers as they came up, taking only one additional step of actually pruning away branches around the bottom of the plants, to allow for more airflow, and cutting back those that were really blocking the progress of their neighboring plant.  The process seemed to work very well and I believe if we commit an entire raised bed just to tomato plants we will have plenty of sauce for a fully stocked pantry by next September.  I had never grown these varieties before and was pleasantly surprised with the results.  Hopefully Lowe’s will run another 2 for a $1.00 deal on tomatoes next year as well.  Wow, I just realized that we enjoyed cream of the crop slicing tomatoes all summer for $2.00!  cool.

Right now, I am hoping our jalapenos and couple of bell pepper plants hold on long enough to finish what they have started, which is just a little too small to pick yet.

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This shot makes me giggle because the pepper plants look so funny being the only large, upright things in this garden bed right now.  The lettuce is coming in nicely to the left, though!

The herbs I left in the ground are still going crazy and while the strawberries are continuing to grow, they are not doing anything more than staying green. In the cleared areas of the beds I sowed some more lettuces and spinach, which have already started to sprout. 

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If all goes well we should have more leafy green stuff than we can stand to eat in just a couple more weeks.  With this last attempt at outdoor gardening completed I am now shifting my focus to an indoor herb garden and some herb decorating for the fall.

Last week I dug up a couple of basil plants, some clusters of chives and the lone parsley plant to bring indoors. 

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I used a cool oval galvanized tub that I found on sale at Joann’s the week before. Now I am counting on the sunny kitchen windows to help keep these plants going, because I can’t wait to use fresh herbs during the dreary winter months. Also, for some fall decor I transplanted my extremely neglected mum plants from last fall into bigger pots, along with a couple of our overgrown sage plants from the garden.

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Since all I had to use for transplanting were ugly black plastic nursery planters, I squished them into our large galvanized tub to make one big display for our front landing. 

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The soft gray-green of the sage plants contrasts nicely with the darker green of the mum leaves.  I like the color of the sage plants so much that I am considering pulling the last couple from the garden to add to the pumpkin display we will place on the steps next month.  Plus, pulling them out of the garden will free up more room for spinach- yum!  Now, if only the mums out front would give us some blooms we will really be in the fall décor business!

Have any of you started decorating for this time of year?  Do you bring anything in from your garden to keep going during the winter?  Any tips to keeping things alive indoors?

Kitsch Krafts


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Gardening : Veggie Patch Update

August 8, 2011 05:54 by ehouston

Back in the middle of June I posted about the progress we had made with transforming our smallish garden plot into two larger raised beds.  To catch up you can click here.  Not only had I taken our old dilapidated railroad tie bed and turned it into two raised beds, but I also added a wider landing to the backdoor from the garage.

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Shot from the left side of the backdoor, mid-June.

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Shot of the landing, right outside of the backdoor, mid-June.

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Shot of the right side of the backdoor, mid-June.

At the time that I was sharing this project things had just begun to take off in the garden.  I had planned to take some more pictures in mid-July to show off how things had progressed at that point.  Well, that time came and went and I took some pictures.  Unfortunately they were not of a stunning and vibrant garden.  It was more like what I would image Sanford & Son had out back between the piles of junk.  Did I just date myself?  Actually, I think I watched mainly syndicated episodes as a very, very young child.  ;o)

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Here are the same plots in mid-July.  Left side of the backdoor.

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Backdoor landing, mid-July.  I had already pulled down the sugar snap peas and they are part of the weed pile on the ground to the left of the landing.

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The jungle to the right of the backdoor.

Anyway, I snapped these shots right before going on a clean-up rampage, weeding and pulling out spent crops.  The lettuce would not die out, but had gotten to the point of being more wilted than edible.  The spinach never did much of anything and our sugar snap peas literally dried up and died on the vine.  The worst issue was sharing garden space with Mr. Mole’s home. 

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As you can see in the picture above (all the dark spots) he burrowed his way out of the beds each night and had a smorgasbord.  First he striped my bush beans from the bottom of the plants up.  What we got off of those plants was so good and we were very disappointed that he killed those plants before they even hit their prime.  Next Mr. Mole moved on to the carrot patch.  What was strange was that he would come out at night and eat the tops, but then leave the bottoms.  So, despite the damage to the tops, I pulled them up and used them shredded in several meals.  He left many of the larger carrot plants alone for a week or so more and they ended up being a pretty good size when I finally pulled them out.  He ate all the parsley, but left the sage.  I don’t know why, but he has not even touched the other planting bed at all.  Thank GOD!

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You can see one last bush bean plant, way in the back to the right, hanging on the end of the little trellis for dear life.  The lettuce was flowing out of the front and back of the bed and the sunflowers were starting to get a bit too heavy at this point. 

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But, the basil at the far left was ready for the first big harvest!

Just on the other side of the backdoor to the garage, the tomatoes, squash and cucumbers are thriving through the heat. 

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The green peppers and jalapenos are still growing, but not producing like we had hoped.  We did finally get one nice big green pepper just this week and we have been pulling one or two jalapenos off every week.  Which, it turns out, is enough for our palates….at least mine and the Little Guy…The Mister likes things scorching hot!  The problem is that the squash went completely insane and took over the bed, drowning out  the peppers.  I even had to put in a piece of the metal fencing between the squash and the rest of the bed because it wasn’t just shading the peppers, it was growing up and over them.  I have since trained the squash over the metal fence along the front of the bed and out into the yard.  I would have pulled all of the metal fencing from that end of the bed if the cucumber vines had not completely covered it.  They even started growing into the peppers, using them to hold on to as they lurched up and over those plants too.  Cucumbers and squash are like Seymour from “Little Shop of Horrors”.  They just get bigger and bigger and want more and more.  They are a little bit scary to deal with!  Although they have turned into nuisance plants they have been giving us a steady stream of produce, so I am not totally unhappy with them.

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The one planting that did disappoint, aesthetically anyway, were the sunflowers.  If I plant them again, I will definitely do so next to a sturdy fence or trellis.  I thought this variety did not get very tall, but I must have actually grabbed the wrong packet of seeds because pretty much all of them are in the 6-8 foot range and have 1.5-2 inch stalks.  They are HUGE and heavy and they keep falling over into the other plants, breaking things on their way down.  Plus, they have added shade where we really did not need any.  So, this one was a “lesson learned” sort of planting.  Again, next time I won’t count on stakes to help hold them, I will just put them by the fence for support. 

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We are looking forward to all those seeds, though.  Not only did the stalks get big, but several have nearly foot wide heads on them, so we hope to collect the seeds for snacking.  I will let you guys know how that goes.

After cleaning up the garden I was left with a pretty significant empty space in the bed on the left side of the backdoor.  If it had not been for the extreme heat and Mr. Mole, I had planned to attempt some second round plantings.  I even considered transplanting the peppers so they could breath a little.  I was advised against the transplanting and sowing anything else from seed, simply because the heat would not allow for germination.  Since we discovered that our dog was the one eating the strawberries I decided to try placing the pots up on the bed in the empty spots.  And, because Mr. Mole had been so selective in what he ate, I figured it was worth a shot to see if he was even going to be interested in this new addition.  Also, one of the strawberry pots had tons of runners, so I thought they might take root and I could eventually cut them from the main pot and let them do their own thing. 

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So far they are still alive, but languishing in the sun.  We have experienced some cooler nights, but now we don’t have much rain.  If it’s not one thing, it’s another!  So far the mole does not seem interested in the strawberries, and since only one of the pots is producing anything I am not really sure if he just hasn’t noticed them yet.  I just keep watering everything and pulling off the ripe stuff as it comes along.

The basil transplants from the end of June have done very well and we have made four batches of pesto to enjoy at least one night (and several lunches for me!) a week.  Between the pesto and the juicy, ripe tomatoes we have been in backyard veggie patch heaven.  Those are the main things I long for when digging, weeding and planting.  So, I guess I can say that even with the issues we have faced this summer the garden has been pretty successful.  Now, to talk The Mister into adding some more beds!  I think we could use some eggplants and zucchini!  Mmmm…..

So tell me, how does your garden grow?

Kitsch Krafts


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