Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Building New Boxes & Lettuce

So I've been complaining recently that I don't have enough space in my square foot garden for all the wonderful veggies that I'm growing this year . . . So Cam, being the amazing person that he is, has built me two new boxes that are twice the size of the old ones.

The original boxes were 4' x 4' (if my memory is correct), and the two new ones are 6' x 6'. I was very happy to see Cam working so hard building these boxes.

I'd like to say that I helped, but that would be a lie. LoL. I am useless when it comes to building things. I just sit on the sidelines and look pretty. =)

Below: Cam bought some nice cedar planks at Home Depot for the new boxes.

The finished product looks amazing. We used untreated wood last year, so the old boxes look really crummy compared to the new boxes. But that's OK. I am not going for architectural look of the boxes, but more of the usability.

As you can see above, we're attempting to gather together the mix for the new beds. We are using Mel's Mix, but having a very hard time finding Vermiculite. Garden centers and the big box stores just don't sell it anymore. And if they do, they sell it in tiny little packages.


Anyway, the boxes are pretty huge compared to the old ones, so now the challenge is going to be how do I reach in and harvest veggies that are in the middle of the box? That is the dilemma!

In between all our boxes, we're going to put in a stone walkway. I think it'll look very pretty when it's all said and done, and we won't have to mow in between the boxes. That will save us a lot of time!

I'd like some more boxes, so we may be building more later this season. Since it feels like spring weather outside, I think it's not too late to start planting lettuce and other leafy greens!

We bought these lettuce heads at Whole Foods in Franklin, TN the other day. We're going to make a delicious salad with it, and also plant it in our new beds. Doesn't it look yummy?

I wonder what type of lettuce it is. It's definitely not head lettuce, which we grew last year in the garden.

We also bought this greenhouse-type thing:

It was on sale for $25, and the shelves are removable.

I can't wait until the weekend to do major work in the garden!

** Update 2015 **

I no longer veggie garden, and now currently running a baby boutique called Preggie Baby Boutique. Thanks for visiting this blog! It's wonderful to see that I'm still getting visitors regularly. 

Sunday, May 17, 2009


This is my first year attempting to grow broccoli. So far, the broccoli isn't doing so well. But I think this is because it's in such close proximity to the boysenberry and strawberry plants. It probably does need more room to grow, but space is tight until Cam and I built more boxes or raised beds.

The broccoli leaves are getting eaten by something... I'm not sure what. We've been spraying organic insecticide but the bugs continue to come. I've read that aphids and caterpillers love to eat broccoli leaves, and that a good way to get rid of them is sprinkling cayenne pepper powder on top. I may try that, if I see more holes in the plant.

I am wondering if my moisture problem in the beds are not good for the broccoli. They do like well-drained soil. The soil mixture in the beds retains moisture very, very well. Hmm...

It might be too warm for broccoli... I guess we'll see how it does.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Strawberries Everywhere!

What started as one Strawberry plant has spread to about three or four plants in box # 2. I only picked one strawberry last year... and this year, I'm going to have many, many. (If the birds don't get to them first!)

The strawberry plant that I had in the pot last year died and is no more. But the one in the box--I am just so surprised at how it came back with a kick!

(Yup, there is indeed netting over it!)

I am so excited about all the fruit that I'll be getting! It is just wonderful! The fruit is very small, but they'll be edible and yummy!

The strawberry flowers are very pretty to look at. White petals with a touch of yellow inside.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Boysenberry, Year # 2

My boysenberry bush came back this year! Last year, it fruited like crazy, but sadly, all the birds got to them before I had even a chance to harvest any. I did get to eat one, but it was rather sour. :-/

Maybe this year, if I leave it on the bush long enough and if I can keep the birds away, I'll have a wonderful harvest and abundance to munch on. Hopefully, they will be sweeter too!

I've put up bird netting around the bush. Can you see it in the picture below?

Can you see how beautiful and abundant that bush is? I think it's the best purchase I've ever made! They grow so well and so full. Sadly, it's only for the month of May that it'll be so green and fruiting. But I'm glad it comes back again next year.

The flowers of the boysenberry are a lovely white color with the fruit in the middle. The plant itself is full of little thorns, so when it's time to pick the fruit, I'll have to be extra careful.

The plant is getting very tall. But we've got that wire fencing behind it, so that it can climb up rather than out.

Some up-close photos of the fruit. These were taken right after a good rain.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Going Heirloom

This year, Cam and I are trying to grow more heirloom varieties of plants, so that we can save the seeds for next season. Almost all of our tomato varieties are heirlooms.

Last year, we planted the majority of our tomatoes in box # 1, but this year, they are growing in box # 3. I think they can succumb to certain diseases if in the same spot year after year. We'll see how this box does.

We are growing about ten Tula tomatoes and five cherry/grape tomatoes in one box. They're planted on opposite side of the box with herbs and mints in between.

So far, they seem to be weathering OK, considering the chilly weather and many, many rainy days we've had.

You can see the old owl in the background. He did little to ward off the birds last year... but I think he's a cute decoration so he'll get to stay in the garden. I'm probably overusing bird netting this year, but I guess it's better to be safe than sorry.

As you can see, the tomatoes are still very little. We planted the seeds in one of those seed-starter kits you buy at Lowe's or Home Depot. When the seedlings were ready, we planted them in the box. We lost several to cutworms, and the straw method seems to work... We haven't seen any cutworms since.

For those interested, Black from Tula Tomatoes are a dark reddish black tomato with a rich flavor from Russia. Apparently, they are very delicious. Heirloom and organic. Cam is very excited about them. I'm more excited about the cherry/grape tomatoes, since those tend to produce faster and I don't have to wait as long to harvest them. (I am very impatient person!)

I bought our seeds from Seed Savers Exchange: http://www.seedsavers.org/Details.aspx?itemNo=251

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Concord Grapes Came Back

I was very pleasantly surprised that my concord grapes came back this year. However, I think they are only producing leaves and no fruit. Lots and lots of leaves!

Cam and I were reading that grapes need well-drained soil to thrive. I'm afraid those boxes really hold moisture well. The soil seems to very damp inside, so the square foot boxes were probably not the best place to plant those grapes . . . Oops, it's a bit too late. I guess that's a mistake I'll have to live with.

I do wonder how much the grapes have rooted since last year. Is it too late to transplant them somewhere else? Would that kill them?

I think the soil may be contributing to why they are not fruiting but instead growing lots of new leaves. Opinions anyone?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

First Attempt at Blueberries

Another first in the garden this year are the blueberries. I bought two blueberry plants at Lowe's recently and planted them next to each other. Both looked very healthy; one was already flowering. And now I have the very beginnings of blueberries!

Sadly, all the blueberries are on the same plant (plant #2) . I am hoping plant #1 catches up soon--so far, it seems to be growing leaves instead of flowers.

Blueberry plant # 2 is very plentiful. And I am so excited.

As you can see in the second picture, this plant has many, many bunches of blueberries. I have read online that birds absolutely love blueberries. So I am going to have to put netting over plant # 2 very soon.

I would love to share the blueberries with the birds, but sadly, I don't have a huge blueberry garden... so the birds will have to stay away! I can't wait until this ripens!

Does anyone watch Jeff Poppen, the Barefoot Farmer, on PBS on Volunteer Garden? (http://www.barefootfarmer.com/) Recently, there was an episode and he talked a little bit about growing blueberries. He said that they can take 6-8 years before they are plentiful and give lots of fruit. I don't doubt that. My little plants are very low to the ground right now, but I am looking forward to watching them grow in the upcoming years.

The Barefoot Farmer also mentioned that blueberries grow much better if you put different varieties next to each other. It's better for cross-pollination.

Plant # 1 and Plant # 2 are the same variety, so I am now in the hunt to find a different variety of blueberry. Blueberries are one of my favorite fruits.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Something new: Topsy Turvy

I'm trying something new this year: The Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter. It's one of those "As Seen on TV" things, but Cam and I thought it was very cool, so we decided to give it a try.

For Easter, we set one up for my 94 year old American Grandmother. She used to love to garden, but now because of her age, it's not something she can safely do. We put the topsy turvy on her porch, planted two cherry tomato plants in it, and hung it low enough so that she can water it without any discomfort. So far, her tomato plants seems to be growing fine in it.

At Cam's house, we "planted" two Mr. Stripey tomatoes in the Topsy Turvy. We hung it on one of the satellite dishes in the backyard.

It was very easy to set up. All you do is slip your plants through the hole at the bottom and fill it with potting soil (with time-release vegetable fertilizer). It did become very heavy, though, once the soil was added. It's a two-person job!

I am very interested in seeing how this works. If it works.

According to the company's Website (http://www.topsygardening.com), you can use the topsy turvy to grow fresh herbs, zucchini, eggplant, and even peppers. It apparently also minimizes pests and diseases because your plant is above ground. Hmmm.... We''ll see.

We paid about $10 for this at Wal-Mart, so it won't be a total loss if this fails.

At least I won't have any problems with cutworms with the topsy turvy! I'm excited about the Mr. Stripey tomatoes too! But more about that once it begins to fruit! I can't wait!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Spring Garden Update

Hi Everyone,

I have officially started to garden again in the garden. I'm getting a late start, mostly because I was unsure of when to start. We've had several cold spells in the Nashville area, lots of rain, and a tornado that came through Murfreesboro (a small town an hour away from Nashville).

It's almost May, so summer is practically here, but I started to plant seeds and transplant seedlings into the garden. I'm still using the square foot boxes, but I'm letting them "go wild" this year--no wooden bars to separate smaller boxes.

We have some herbs and fruit that came back this year, and I'll be blogging about those later this week. I am going to try to blog at least once a week, but depending on my work schedule, I may not be able to blog as much as I did last year. Blogging does take a lot of time, so I'll do my best.

This spring/summer season, I've growing the following in my garden:

* Broccoli
* Black from Tula tomatoes (Heirloom)
* Cherry/Roma tomatoes
* Mr. Stripey (Heirloom)
* Peas
* Red cabbage
* Crookneck Squash
* Onions
* Garlic
* Oregano
* Sage
* Sweet Basil
* Stevia

If Cam and I have more time this summer, we're going to build either raise beds or more square foot boxes to grow even more vegetables.

I know it's getting a little late, but I haven't started any lettuce or spring mixes yet. I hope to be able to do that soon. (Hopefully before the heat comes).

I am extremely excited about all the different varieties of vegetables and mints I've started.

Cutworms are the biggest pests that we've faced in the garden this year. They've cut all of the bush beans seedlings that we planted in the garden, three heirloom tomato plants, and three of the peas that we're attempting to grow.

We didn't have any luck growing peas last year because we planted them so late in the season; it was already June when we tried. But with these cutworms, I am worried they're not going to survive this year either. *sigh*

These are the only pea plants that are remaining:

I think we'll try bush beans again later this summer. To combat these evil villains, we've cut plastic straws into 2-3" sections and wrapped them around the stems. Hopefully, this will work and we can save our remaining plants.

We got the idea of plastic straws after reading this gardening forum:

If you are interested, there are photos of the process on the forum.

Info on cutworms can be found here: http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/M1225.html

I've found the U of Minnesota's Website extremely helpful.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Happy Winter from Luka and DP

Hi All!

I wanted to take a few minutes to wish everyone a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope the new year will be wonderful for everyone... and for all the flowers, plants, and veggies!

It's been pretty nice in TN. I think if I had done more research into growing winter vegetables, I would have been able to pull it off this year. We've only some extremely cold days, but recently, it's been pretty warm outside!


P.S. Some pictures of Luka from Christmas. She's about 9 months old now (maybe 10).