Sunday, May 23, 2010

Summer is almost here

The garden is growing and summer has just about come upon us. (Though this time I don't have any photos, I'm enjoying my lazy weekend too much.)

Zoe's enjoyed patrolling the yard as well. A neighbor's feral cat that she takes care of has a litter of kittens. Sometimes they explore around our back porch, though they run and hide as soon as they see or hear us. Zoe's been mystified by their meows but hasn't yet seen them. As soon as she does I know she'll run after them trying to play.
"I love kitty cats, they're my favorite!" Zoë
 The "rows" are doing well. Today I discovered that the pumpkins somehow grew through one of the holes in the mini fence surrounding the compost. There's several feet of pumpkin vine and leaves hanging out on the compost. How we didn't notice this until now I'm not sure.

Sadly I'm 96% sure that the Silver Fir Tree tomato plant succumbed to end rot. Every tomato but one that I've picked off of it is either rotten in random spots and/or has funky mold looking white splotches inside the fruit. (Either way we've been unable to eat any of them except for one lone tomato.) As far as the rotting bits, I'm pretty sure it's because the planter we put it in is having problems draining. So not for lack of trying, we're going to scrap the Silver Fir Tree for this year, maybe we'll try again next year. Which speaking of, the Black Seaman isn't doing so well either. There is one large tomato and one baby tomato on it. The large tomato went from varying shades of green to rotten, there was no "just right" phase. I've left it for the bugs, let's see how the baby tomato turns out. I don't have high hopes for it either, as those are the only two tomatoes we've observed on that plant. Things seemed to be doing so well for a while and then both plants seem to have gone downhill rather quickly. The Ciudad Victoria currant tomato plant on the other hand is doing well, no edible tomatoes from it yet though.

On a much happier note we've now been able to eat TWO zucchinis from our garden (one today and one last weekend). I'd like to say they taste amazing and better than anything else I've ever had, but really they taste like regular zucchinis. Though they don't taste any different it's wonderful to eat something and know it came from your yard and all of your hard work! I can't wait for everything else to start bearing edible fruit, we'll be brimming with wonderful vegetable goodness! I can't wait to try crazy recipes using my harvests!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

May Updates

The garden is growing and there is so much new every day in our little backyard garden. The squash/zucchini have gone from seedlings to plants with blooms and now growing plants with baby veggies growing on them! The eggplant has bloomed its very first beautiful purple flower. The sunflower has sprouted to over 6 feet tall with a flower over a foot in diameter (though sadly it's pointed in the opposite direction from view). Most amazingly the tomato plants have grown and their yellow blooms have now turned in to baby tomatoes. Today something amazing happened, we picked our very first tomato! This baby is so beautiful and red it may have actually over ripened on the vine. All the same we're going to enjoy eating it tonight! And last but not least (well maybe) the funky red bugs have turned from their ant like pupae form to adult (looking) Assassin bugs, and have now moved from the Silver Fir Tree to the Black Seaman.

Take a gander at some of the photos below and see how much our garden has grown!

Starting off strong, isn't she beautiful!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Yay for (good) bugs

Remember those bugs I was talking about? Well according to Native Nurseries, via my descriptions and then photos, those bugs are Assassin bug pupae. So any holes in the Silver Fir Tree's leaves aren't actually from those nasty looking bugs but are in fact from other bugs that the Assassin bugs are eating. They've reassured me twice now that these are good bugs, so I'm going to take their word for it. But I can't deny that I'm still a tiny bit nervous that somehow they'll turn out to be bad bugs and I'll regret having left them along so long because they'll have killed that plant. Sometimes you just can't help being a bit paranoid, even when you know your fears probably won't come true...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Gardening FAIL (and accidental success)

Epic Gardening Fail
Yesterday while getting a new dishwasher installed (yay! Thank goodness we have amazing landlords) I wanted to show off my growing garden. My landlord is a bit of a gardener himself and I knew he'd appreciate seeing how well things were doing. Sadly, he told me more or less what I knew myself: everything is crazy overcrowded. We'd replaced the dead seeds with seedlings in more or less the same spaces/spacing. So while we followed the instructions on planting the seeds correctly it's implied that once your seeds take off to seedlings you thin out and transplant to other places. Well that memo was basically lost on me. I had seen that the plants were growing rather large and I could only imagine how big they'd eventually get. So that afternoon while Zoë's Dad slept (and then so did Zoë) I took it upon myself to "fix" our rows or what I thought was "thinning them out".  There's a space perpendicular from the veggie garden/rows that I'd observed in full sun one morning. At the time I'd thought to myself "that's where we could put tomato plants in the ground next year if we wanted to try that." Well I decided it'd be a great area to transplant the extra plants. So I tore out weeds/grass, chopped the roots of the poisonous looking weed growing against the fence where the garden wold be, softened the dirt, enriched the soil with compost (that I had to manhandle to get out of the composter), dig holes in the new area, dig up the plants from their previous homes, and transplant them to their new spaces. Two hours later, I was sweaty and exhausted, but my new garden area was almost done. I worked so hard on this space/project. I don't know the last time I sweat so much or so hard. (And I didn't complain! I just took a mini break, got some water, and braced myself for more work.) It was a sight to be seen: old sports shorts, a tank top, sports bra, AND my new rain boots. I'll tell you what, I didn't worry at all about bugs getting on my feet! Now dirt everywhere else ... that I wasn't able to control or stop.
When Zoë's Dad woke up I proudly showed off the new area (that he'd previously said wasn't needed and didn't want to create). It was about 2 and the fence shaded the ENTIRE area. That's right, my new veggie garden was in complete shade at 2pm and there was nothing I could do about it! I realized instantaneously that all of that work was for nothing. Apparently that space gets sun in the morning and shade (from the fence) in the afternoon. I can't test this theory just yet because I can't even see the sun today. *sigh*

Tomato Updates
While outside taking photos of my epic fail of a secondary veggie garden I figured I'd take photos to have updates for the rest of the garden. Every day (unless the forecast includes rain) I water the plants and I've started fertilizing them with organic fertilizer. Okay I've fertilized the tomatoes twice and the veggies once, but I plan on continuing to fertilize them once or twice a month, as the package instructs). Well the Ciudad Victoria currant tomatoes are growing like gangbusters!  

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I have no idea what this is and how it came to be there, but look what I discovered while pulling out of the garage on Sunday:

There's a space between the concrete of our house/driveway and the concrete/driveway of the house next door. It looks like it's supposed to be a garden but the gutter also happens to run straight in to it. When we first moved in our landlord put in some latana flowers that I diligently came and watered every few days, during the weeks between when we'd signed the lease but wouldn't move in yet. I had dreams of lush flowers and beauty next to my house. Um yeah they barely flowered, they stayed close to the ground, and they basically looked like woody weeds. Thankfully Zoë's Dad, while doing yard work one weekend recently, pulled up most of the "dead and woody looking weed that's actually a flower" plant. There was some green growth at the front of the "planter" and we just kept it for the time being so there'd be something green and alive there. I really didn't like the bland green shoots/leaves but I figured alive and green was better than "dead weed". In fact I'd even been doing research on what plants might be able to live in that kind of environment and possibly investing in a few down the line. Well now I'm certainly not going to take this baby out. I'm curious as to what it is, how I can promote it's growth/flowering, and if I can grow more of it in that area....

P.S. The reason for the delay between when I "discovered this" and when I posted about it is actually only due to "technical difficulties" that I experienced when trying to upload and share the picture I took on my iPhone. Yeah it was no where near as easy as I thought it'd be. 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

At least there's purple

When I was a little girl and we had to repair the house from a major hurricane (Andrew) my parents let me pick my furniture AND carpet. One of those was the wrong decision, namely the carpet choice. I wound up with totally rad 90's pearl plastic furniture with gold plate trim. That was the good decision (if you compare the two). The bad decision: 5 year old me chose PINK carpet. Yeah, and even worse my parents actually purchased and had that pink carpet installed. To this day that pink carpet is in my room at my parents house. 

Moving on from the pink, when I went away to college my Mom reminded me that I could choose whatever colors I wanted for my new dorm room decor, that I could finally get away from the dreaded pink. Thinking I was coming up with a somewhat original idea, I chose purple. I've continued to carry on my (new found?) love for purple to this day. I still have much of my dorm room decor, though I'm proud to say it's also accompanied by a lot of CraigsList finds. So while I enjoy purple, new and old, my house does not scream dorm room or 5 year old little girl. (I think Zoë's Dad would not let me make our home "5 year old little girl" even if I wanted to, thankfully I don't.)

So this love of purple has continued in to my gardening. Ha, there was a reason for that story! Amazingly enough most of my flower favorites are not purple (what!?! I know, that's crazy) I do tend to gravitate to pops of purple color when looking around the store at flowers. With a $10 off $50 purchase coupon at Lowe's today, we tried coming up with a few extra items (read: flowers) to fill up the $25 we needed to spend to use the coupon. While I didn't want to spend that much at the store we both knew the chances of spending $50 in one trip at Lowe's might not happen again until Christmas (and we get our Christmas tree there). We left with a bag of human/pet friendly fire ant killer goodness, a can of spray paint for the last tire planter, a big ole bag of potting soil (for the last tire planter), and 2 plants. Zoë's Dad insisted on getting a Kimberly Fern that he's going to try to split and plant around the front of our house where the big trees block almost all sunlight from coming through. 

We still needed a tiny bit more to spend, and as is always the case when that happens, we over spent. That's right I chose to purchased a $14 flat of Angelonia angustifolia to finish off the purchase. I tried to pull up more info on these beauties on my new iPhone to reason getting them. I found that they're perennials in zones 10-11, only problem being that I'm in zone 8b/9. We'll keep our fingers crossed and maybe if we're really lucky they'll survive the winter. If not I'm hoping $14 for 8-10 plants was a good enough deal for annuals. Getting past the money I'd just spent I went to work on planting said purple flowers. Remember those free containers from CraigsList? Well I was happy to finally put most of them to use. Of course the flat I bought was actually 2 rows and not individual plants. So off I went to vent off some anger through my spade and "splitting" the rows in to individual plants. I'll tell you what, those roots had built up good and strong and all along the bottom of the plastic temporary containers. It wasn't as easy to split them as I thought it'd be. But I did split them and now they have homes in individual pots instead of all together in a row. Even if they only last for this summer or part of this summer they'll give a splash of purple to the tire planter garden. 
Oh, speaking of my tire planter garden look at the growth of my wildflower seeds. I was especially worried when I hadn't seen any baby sprouts. But thankfully some time this past week they finally started sprouting. They're all teeny tiny but they're there. And if I'm really lucky they'll actually go from baby sprouts to seedlings and then flowers. 

Zoë insisted on being out in the garden with me as I was gardening. Of course like the little princess she is, as soon as she saw what I was doing she was done being outside. So she spent her time outside under the overhang on the deck. That wasn't the only thing she did while outside. No, of course she had to do her most favorite thing to do outside (newly discovered favorite, about 3 weeks ago): eating sunflower seeds/sunflower shells from the bird feeder that have been discarded and thrown to the ground from the bird feeder! That's right, if you let Zoë outside and she lingers even a minute more than usual you just know what she's doing. As far as we can tell it hasn't made her sick, but little 5 pound Yorkies are not meant to eat (large quantities of) sunflower seeds.

"Eating sunflower seeds and sunflower shells is my favorite!" - Zoë 

All done with that and still feeling like I had more I had to do while it was still the weekend I worked on the last tire planter that needed to be painted. We tried something different since the last attempt with regular spray paint was ... well it was less than stellar. We tried applying a made for plastic spray paint primer and then the spray paint. I can't quite tell if it worked real well or not but since I wasn't the one that painted it (thank you FAMU School of Architecture for teaching my boyfriend, through his many projects, how to spray paint well) I'll call it a success. See our newest addition:

Hello 2010 Garden, you're really starting to shape up to be beautiful!

P.S. Thanks to my amazing co-workers I've got a gift card to Native Nurseries burning a hole in my pocket. Unfortunately since Zoë's Dad is in crunch time for finishing off all his work (since it's due Wednesday) I realized I have to wait to use it for next  weekend. Which of course made me feel bad about spending money at Lowe's when I have a gift card at Native Nurseries. But some things are still cheaper and better to get elsewhere (Lowe's). Next weekend though I will be purchasing a pretty flower hanging basket, maybe a few more small flowering plants and whatever else looks good and I might actually use.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

New, Re-used, and Updates

Veggie Garden Makeover
Considering I wasn't expecting to be able to accomplish much this weekend (I worked Saturday morning and then went to a friend's wedding Saturday afternoon/evening) we did in fact accomplish a LOT! Not a whole lot happened Saturday, beyond the aforementioned plans. But today, Sunday, we made up for lost time. While Zoë complained bitterly every 5 seconds (I don't know what she wanted, I don't think she knew what she wanted) and Zoë's Dad (Branden) was asleep I weeded the veggie garden, laid down some extra compost on top of all the rows, and then laid down newspaper. I felt extremely satisfied, I'd finally accomplished my long standing goal of setting down a weed barrier/newspaper. No more weeding, yay! Sadly, when Branden woke up and I showed off my handy work I came to realize most of my morning work was for naught. Yeah, newspaper dries and when it does it goes back to being lightweight and flying away with the wind. Instead of rows with newspaper looking amazing (to me at least) I showed off rows with newspaper randomly strewn around. 
 In 24 hours there were some dramatic changes:

On the left the garden on 4/10 
On the right the garden on 4/11

I quickly fixed this, with Branden's assistance. While I fixed the newspaper Branden racked the leaves in the front of the house: hello free/natural easily degradable mulch! 
"Leaves are my favorite!" -Zoë (The puppy that frequently finds a leaf, carries it around like it's the most awesome toy ever, and tries to hide said leaf from Mommy and Daddy.)
It looks rather messy and I'll have to monitor it closely over the next few days, but we may have made huge progress in creating a bountiful/healthy veggie garden!