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Veggie Garden Lessons

29 Aug

This is our second year making an attempt at a veggie garden.

veggie garden path

We were quite a bit more successful this year than last, but it’s still been a learning experience.  I do think it’s still kind of remarkable considering where the veggie garden started.

And now:

This year we learned…

morning glories

Morning glories would stage a coup of the whole yard if we let them.

I can’t take credit for these, the previous owners had them and they keep coming back with vengeance.  I seriously have to go out and trim it down every other day to keep it from going too far into the path.  But I’ve figured out how to control them!  In addition to trimming them frequently, mulching on our side of the fence made a huge difference.  I still have to weed the little stragglers that keep trying to pop up, but it’s finally manageable.  In the summer, they’re 100% more attractive than the naked chain link fence.  No chain link fence is sexy.  Not even naked ones.

green pepper

If you leave green peppers on the plant long enough, they’ll turn into red peppers or even yellow peppers.  Who knew??  Ok, I know this isn’t revolutionary, but I didn’t know!

Our strawberries have been producing fruit ALL summer!  We didn’t get to eat any until a month ago though.  Why?  Chipmunks decided they looked tasty too and kept beating us to them.  Thankfully, a neighbor recommended the perfect remedy.  Boil hot pepper seeds in water and then spritz the plants with the pepper water.  Works like a charm, and since we’re also growing jalapenos in the garden, it was a free fix!  No, the strawberries don’t end up tasting like peppers.

Tomatoes get diseased, but generally still produce tons of fruit.  Cucumber plans catch tomato’s sickness and most of the plants wither away.  We’ve gotten several cucumbers, but we would have had dozens if the plants stayed health.  This obviously needs to change next year.  Since we don’t have enough room to rotate our crops as recommended, I’m going to hunt for an organic treatment for the soil that will protect the plants next year.

Good thing eggplants don’t catch the same sickness- I can’t wait to try these!  Only thing I’d change about these next year is the location we planted them.  They get huge and are encroaching on my carefully planned path.  I’ll forgive them though, since they’re going to end up giving us several awesome looking eggplants.

One thing’s for certain though- we certainly can grow tomatoes.  More than we can ever eat.

Time to make some pasta sauce!

Another Weekend in the Garden

2 Jul

I love the results of gardening.  The process of getting there, however is long and EXHAUSTING.

I spent most of my weekend working in the garden.  Some areas are looking much better, others are still in progress (read: looking worse, but will look better soon).  I made significant progress on some of the “To Do” items I mentioned in my last garden post, and crossing things off a to do list is always fun.

The big accomplishment this weekend was the garden between the house and driveway.  This is the longest planting area we have and has the tendency to look very overgrown no matter how much I try to weed.  Last year, we planted some flowers here, but its an odd space.  We really only see it when we pull in the driveway (there isn’t much of a view from the front or back yards), so spending a lot of money to fill it with flowers just didn’t seem to make sense.  We decided that ground cover was in order.

I always get a little eager to get started on projects and sometimes I forget to take a full “before” …… so imagine this garden with a LOT more weeds.

(Isn’t my helper cute?)

Since it will take the ground cover a year or two to really fill in (and I need instant gratification), I decided to put Hubby’s herbs that usually sit on the back steps to good use.

We replanted them in uniform pots, then ‘planted’ the pots down in the garden.  That way, the ground cover won’t take over the herbs, and the herbs still remain contained.

Much better view when we drive into the driveway now!

This weekend, I also:

got started with landscape fabric and stepping stones in the veggie garden,

and dug up more rocks from the front yard in preparation for eventual new grass.

Not the most exciting shots, I know, so I’ll leave you with a few yard glamour shots.

Did you spend some time outside this weekend?

Punch of Pink

3 Aug

This week there was a new development in my “Name that Plant” game.

For months I had seen 3 stalks growing in my garden on the side of the driveway and had zero idea what they were.  The only thing I knew was that they looked purposeful, so I let them live when I did massive weeding of that area (formerly known as the jungle).  I am emphatically glad I did.

As I was watering the new plantings in the front yard, I was startled by a pop of color.  I mean literally startled.  I stopped in my tracks and said aloud something to the effect of “whoa nelly!”  I’m cool like that.  If my neighbors heard me they probably think I’m nuts.  That may be so, but you would be shocked to if your normally green side garden (I didn’t plant there this year so I could see what popped up) suddenly had 2 (soon to be 3) gigantic pink flowers!

The pictures don’t even do justice, I swear they are at least 6 inches in diameter and bright!  My pictures were taken at dusk, so the colors were a bit muted (yes, that is muted!).  I have learned they are some type of Oriental Lily, but if you have any idea what variety, please share.

Any surprises in your gardens lately?

Veggie Garden- Phase 2

27 Jun

And then there were 2!

See Phase 1 here.

The second planter was a much larger task than I was expecting it to be.  Not the actual installation or planting, but the getting of the planter box.  The original was from Home Depot and less than 2 weeks later not only did they have no more of the same kind, they had never heard of that brand!  Commence frustration.  Do we go for a mis-matching planter of the same size?  I begrudgingly bought the other planter, but attempted to hunt down the right one (I spent more time calling area Home Depots than I’d care to admit to).  Luckily an e-mail direct to the manufacturer of our preferred planter was fruitful and I was able to order one direct from them for the same price.  Yay! I was also assured that next year when we intend to add 1 or 2 more planters they will still be available through direct order if we can’t find them at Home Depot again.  Double Yay!

Planter 1 is now the home of  2 thriving cucumber plants, a struggling green bean, 3 strawberry plants, one mystery plant from my sister, 2 cauliflower, cilantro, oregano, dill, sage, rosemary, and basil.

Planter 2 is a little zestier, housing 2 habanero peppers, 6 cherry bomb hot peppers, 2 red bell peppers, 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 green bell pepper and 4 cauliflower.  One of these things is not like the other.  I insisted on buying the cauliflower, whereas the rest are of Hubby’s choosing- could you tell?

In other exciting garden news (what, you don’t find garden news exciting?!) our brandy dandy new composter is on the truck for delivery as we speak.  The counter-top bin is still en route.

If you couldn’t guess- this whole gardening thing is new to us.  Its uncharted territory and we’re doing a lot of experimenting this year.  By next year, we’ll be experts!  more or less…

Little Wins

17 Jun

Today, I’m celebrating silly triumphs.

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Do you remember when I posted an image of this mystery flower?

Well, it’s a mystery no more!  It’s Allium Nectaroscordum or Mediterranean Bells.

You have no idea how excited this little discovery made me.  Yes I am a dork.

I had this epiphany (thanks in part to Google of course) last evening.  I was trying to clean up the garden a little and decided that the dead stalks that used to be the beautiful flower above needed to go.  Most stalks pulled out of the ground with much less effort than I expected.  One stalk, however resisted and came up with the bulb- it looked like an onion!  That clicked in my head.  Alliums like this one in my garden are part of the onion family.  Lo and behold, after a search online, I found that the once mystery flower was in fact a type of allium!  I heart alliums!

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The next triumph involves a lamp I plan to take home with me this weekend.

Last weekend, while feeding my addiction at HomeGoods I fell in love as usual.  Since I’m trying to be good and not buy too much house stuff (operative word here is trying), I took a picture and walked away from it.  (Not of course before making sure that it wasn’t the only one, so that it would probably still be there when if I came back to adopt it).

Since my cell phone doesn’t take the clearest pictures, let me tell you that the price tag reads $49.99.

Swoon.

I’d been obsessing thinking about the lamp all week when, yesterday, I came across an image on one of my other addictions Pinterest.

The Weston Table Lamp from ZGallerie for a mere $199.

Coincidence?  I think not.  This is the universe telling me that I need to go back to HomeGoods and take home my lamp, don’t you think?

My Peonies need Prozac

13 Jun

I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I don’t understand peonies.  I have zero experience with them prior to this spring and I had no idea what these weird things growing in my garden were until my mother-in-law clued me in.

I think I’m still missing something.

OK, I get that the flowers are beautiful…. but seemingly only when cut.  As you can see from the picture below- the flowers right now are pavement dusters thanks to the crazy/crappy weather of the past week or so.  I have been able to rescue a few bunches and bestowed them on my friends.  Even prior to the weather, though, the plants themselves just looked like angsty teenagers- slouching and a little depressed.

The largest of the more than half-dozen in my yard (most are pretty skinny, small and barren of flowers) has a proper cage/stake with 2 rings holding it up.  I swear it started drooping more the second I gave it supports, though.  It was just pulling the supports over with it!  The next step was to attach the supports to a trellis that I stuck in the ground behind the plant. That’s almost been pulled over too.

I just don’t get it!  How can I make my peony plants themselves look as lovely as the flowers look cut??  If I can’t figure it out, I may start giving away some of my peony plants for next year.  I don’t want to rid the yard of them completely, however for a yard this size, so many drooping peonies aren’t giving off the best vibe! (Do you see the pathetic scrawny one to its side?)

If you have experience with peonies, PLEASE leave me comments telling me what I’m doing wrong and how I can make my garden happy next year!

Full Frontal

3 Jun

Get your mind out of the gutter!  I’m talking about the yard!

I figured- since I unintentionally started a theme this week, talking about the side yard, then the back yard, why not finish up the week with the front yard.

When we moved in, you got a picture tour of the inside of the house, but since everything outside was covered in feet of white coldness we neglected to show you the outside (aside from a picture from when we looked at the house).

Not too much has changed in the front yard, but like everything else to do with this house, I HAVE PLANS!  So here’s a tour of our expansive (hehe) front yard.

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Prior to allllll the snow, the front of the house looked like this (although after closing, we were left with a dangerous hole where the signpost once stood):

Don’t like mowing the lawn?  Well, I have the perfect yard for you!

That little patch is all the grass we have.  The previous owners left us a manual push mower with the house, although we could probably get away with just scissors (or I think Handy Dad suggested a goat).  Between mowing, trimming and raking, it only takes about 10 min to take care of the lawn.  Considering I’m apparently making the back and side yard more high-maintenance with all the gardens, a break in the front is nice.

The BIG PLAN with the grass is as follows:  I want to rip out the bush on the right.  Nothing’s wrong with the bush itself- it looks decent, it’s healthy, it’s a good size, but I’m not fond of its placement.  I’d like it to go away.  Then we could extend the grass straight across from the corner of the house to the fence.  When that happens, we’ll plant some arbor vitae, or maybe lilac bushes, or something along that line to block view from the front yard to the side yard veggie patch.

The absolute next project in the front yard is the bushes on either side of the stairs.  These are the enemy!


Their mere presence offends me.  They sit there taunting and mocking me on a daily basis.  I’m sure they were lovely and proportionate once upon a time.  Now, they’re so oversized that I can’t see backing out of the driveway.  Hubby was convinced they could be saved and trimmed or shaped, until he attempted to.  Then he jumped on my bandwagon.  They are so beyond help I can’t even describe it to you.  In their place, we’re hoping for a few textural bushes much more suiting the scale of the house and yard (read: much smaller).

Do you see a theme in these yard posts?  I’m just noticing the trend as I type.  Apparently I’m anti-bush, since I’m talking about ripping out virtually every existing bush in the yard.  They’ve all past their prime and need to be put out of their misery.

One of the few front yard modifications is new house numbers.  Plastic generic numbers are gone in favor of these brushed nickel ones.  Very reminiscent of these  Mid-Century ones available at DWR for a mere $48 each.  We paid only $5.99 each!  I would also like to paint the front door a brighter red at some point.  Hubby’s not yet convinced, but I’ll bring him over to the dark side my side eventually!  The lighting will also be upgraded in the future.

The last stop in our front yard tour is the flower box.  Although the box was here when we moved in, it was the home of dead plant remnants after the forgiving winter.  So it received a pop of color.  The porch got a colorful hanging plant to compliment.

Now you’ve seen all but the driveway side of the house.  Maybe that’s a post for next week.

 

*Please forgive me for the crappy pictures.  I rushed to take them as I was running out of daylight last night after going wedding dress shopping with a friend (she found THE dress though!)