Gardening

Where to begin? At the beginning.

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So this is where I started. Doesn’t look very appealing. And it was a lot of hard work.

This is the end result of that first year. We planted strawberries (which are going strong), zucchini, crock neck or yellow squash (my personal favorite), tomatoes and bell peppers. Let me share with you what I learned about tomatoes. I bought 4 different varieties of large tomatoes, two different varieties of cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes. HUGE HUGE¬† mistake. At least for our backyard garden. We had SO MANY tomatoes, I couldn’t give them away. Seriously, it was to much. I learned my lesson quickly. Now I only plant what I think we will use in one season. You can make only so much pasta sauce………… I learned so much in that first year. Bell peppers don’t like heat. If it starts to get to warm they will bolt. Watch the variety of veggies that you pick. Read the label carefully before you buy. I bought a large variety of zucchini. You can see from the picture they got huge. Also, don’t plant stuff you personally don’t like. What’s the point? I dislike zucchini, but my family professed to LOVE it……… Again I couldn’t give it away.

Everyone that I talked to and all the books I read all said it was almost impossible to grow grapes here……. Well, that sounded like a challenge. One guy at Star Nursery told me I could do it, but it would take perseverance and dedication…… phft…. Because it got planted against the wall (husband decided that), it gets neglected ALOT. The first picture is what it looked like when I ordered it. It was a year old. It takes grapes 3-4 years to yield a crop. I have been very patient, considering I’m an instant gratification kind of gal. But this year, all that neglect is paying off, as you can see. There are so many grapes on the vines and the plant has literally taken over half the garden wall. I just hope the neighbors like grapes.

Awe the Bougainvillea. It’s so beautiful in bloom. One of the things I love about it is the color. Such a huge burst of color that comes from leaves, not flowers. The bougainvillea is a tropical plant originating from Brazil, way back in the day ( that day was a Wednesday….. Not a Dane Cook fan? Oh well). The climate for the bougainvillea is tropical. If by tropical they mean feeling like your living In an oven, then that’s what we got. I don’t do anything special for it. I don’t protect it from the cold winter, I don’t prune pinch or trim. It just grows like a 60’s flower child.

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Finally for today is my berry vine. Came straight from the pacific northwest. Ha! You can see the grape reaching out for the berry. They are great friends. This is actually an older picture. Year 2 I think. The berry (which the husband has convinced the grandkids its called a poisonberry) grows profusely in Oregon. Along streets, in the woods, in yards. You can tell it’s berry season when you see people on the sides of long country roads with buckets. Just out for the day picking berries. Its the most amazing thing to watch our grandkids literally eat from the backyard. They pick strawberries, tomatoes, and berries. Instead of farm to table at our house its garden to mouth. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My point of all of this is just this; plant what you want. What happens if it fails? Well then it fails. I planted Chinese cabbage this year, also called Napa cabbage. It was the first time trying it, I was pretty excited. I love Napa cabbage for coleslaw and stuff like that. I invested time and energy into it. I had 8 beautiful seedlings in the garden. Our weather was weird this spring. Hot, cold, hot, rainy, cold on and on. My cabbage grew and grew. I watched it everyday waiting to see the heads start to form. Instead, I got flowers…….. It never formed its heads, its bolted and started to flower. Failure…….

Just start planting stuff, even if you live in an apartment or a rental. A lot of things work well In containers. Just start at the beginning. You’ll be surprised how quickly you become addicted to growing things. Loving, nurturing, eating all those wonderful things you grew in your own special place.

Have a great day and follow your own path

Gardening · Uncategorized

Plants vs. Animals

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Ahhh, the agony of choosing plants. In our front yard we chose flowers and ornamentals. And plenty of gnomes to protect the garden. My poor Tony Gnomo has gotten so beat up out there. Broken arm, broken back….. I retired him to the back yard this year. ūüôā

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Don’t let anyone try to convince you, you need a greenhouse. NOT IN A DESERT. I was so excited about gardening I wanted to do everything right. I bought a small inexpensive one before I commissioned the husband to build one. Just to test it out. Alot of my gardening books say you should have a greenhouse to germinate your seeds in colder weather.¬† You can keep your seedlings in the greenhouse until the last frost is passed and stuff like that. I was very successful in cooking my seedlings. Even in the winter months of the desert the sun is still hot. The general idea of a greenhouse is to keep the heat in. The sunlight passes through the transparent walls, heats up the ground which then radiates warmth and heats the air……….. It was so hot and humid…. Never again

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This what I did instead. Soda bottles and paper cups in the garage. No grow lights, no heat lamps. When the humidity seemed a little high inside the cup, I removed the tops and let them get some air. The grew just fine in December and January. Also there is alot of misleading information on what you need to grow seeds. Let me clear something up. Seeds only need water to grow. Your obviously going to want to put them in something. You don’t need a bunch of potting soils or fancy dirt. Until seedlings get their first true leaves they only need water to grow. I really feel like that needs repeating. In warmer months when I don’t need the heat and humidity for the seeds I recycle our k-cups. I just plop the seeds in the coffee grounds and water. Hasn’t failed me yet.

 

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A couple of points on buying plants. I do buy them occasionally. I order them as well as get them at local nurseries. I don’t limit myself to just what they sell In the nurseries. When I order from out of state nurseries I usually get a warning that those plants don’t grow in my area. I insist that they send them anyway. My motto is, if you want to grow it, then grow it. I totally ignore that whole zone system. Some sites say I’m in zone¬† 8, some say zone 11……. Whatever. I have green grapes growing in my backyard, they aren’t supposed to be. I also have a berry vine that grows in the Pacific Northwest, doing quite nicely also in my backyard. Not everything works, its all trial and error. My bougainvillea does well, the jasmine barely hangs on every year. Not quite dying, but not quite thriving either. Trial and Error.

We have dogs……. I almost feel like that’s all I need to say. None of them are diggers, lucky for us. We have unique problems with them. One of them is a food snob (not my fault) and likes to eat the herbs. Especially the basil, which is planted In the front yard now. It’s hard some times to keep him out of the garden. When¬†plants are young and tender he will eat them…… (idk, he’s French) . The other two like to lay in the dirt. Not necessarily an issue for the tiny one, but our medium size dog is a bully. She doesn’t care who or what is In her way when she wants to lay down. Many a day Ive walked out to the garden and plants are smooshed. One of the corn stalks is stunted from her laying on it. All the others are 3 feet tall. The little runty one is barely a foot. I don’t think it’s going to make it. I put up a little 12 inches fence, the kind you see at the dollar store. It helps keep them out. Until they see me in the garden doing stuff. Then the jump right in.¬† So just be prepared if you have pets. They like to get¬†involved, not always in a way you want. Cats……. If you have cats or cats In your neighborhood. Cats see a garden as a giant litter box….. So gross.

Ok time to grab some lettuce from the garden and make dinner. Remember, follow your own path.