Monday, June 14, 2010

Garden State

Happy Monday all!
I had an awesome weekend - starting on Thursday with a trip to Houston. I had two photo sessions on Friday and got to spend the day with my bff and her family. It was wonderful! My backyard mom colored and highlighted my hair and I love it! I wish I could have spent more time with them. Grammy and Happy were kind enough to watch the boys for me all day long and I didn't want to make them resent their generosity, so Friday was my only day away. I am so blessed with inlaws that are relatively close by and so willing to take the boys for me when I am visiting friends and working in Houston. The boys love spending time with them too. Of course, when we left on Saturday, Kiddo cried for a good hour off and on while Port slept. Then Port woke up right about the time Kiddo fell asleep, and when we pulled into our neighborhood, Port started whining and crying for his BeeMee (Grammy). Good grief I just about turned around and shipped them back to their grandparent's house!

Regardless, we made it home safe and sound. Saturday was Hubby's and my 11th anniversary (I know that was probably not the proper way to say that. help! I suck at grammar). Since we hadn't planned anything too special, we picked up a pizza for the kids (Little Caesar's $5 large pepperoni ROCKS) and grilled some steaks for ourselves. While the kids enjoyed pepperoni, we dined on steak, baked potato and a very yummy cucumber salad I concocted at the last minute. While I was gone to Houston, my garden produced 3 very large cucumbers! I don't usually like cucumbers that much, but something made me chop them up with some diced red onion, jalapeno, black olives, tomatoes, salt, pepper and feta cheese. I mixed it all up with some Greek vinaigrette dressing and it was sooooo yummy! It was even better the next day.

We got the kiddos to bed on time and Hubby and I watched a movie (shock! I know!). It was a lovely quiet evening with us together instead of in front of our computers. We really should do that more often.

Anyway, I haven't talked about my garden in a while so I thought it might be time for an update. Things in the garden are, well, um, it's hard to say. Good and bad I guess. It has been both frustrating and rewarding at the same time. First the frustrating: the lima beans never even sprouted. Carrots didn't sprout at all either. The green beans kept getting chomped by a squirrel and so now only one plant survived. I had so much hope for it, but then I discovered one morning that some sort of beast had completely covered it in a fine, sticky netting; over the top and bottoms of every leaf, all over the stems and also the small beans that were growing. It is the most bizarre thing I have ever seen. And you can't wash it off! ugh.

The corn is growing and producing some small ears, but it looks like the shallow depth of dirt and solid limestone bed underneath has stunted it's growth. It is only about 3-4 feet tall. So much for the theory of corn being able to grow in 8 inches of soil. Anyway...

In one bed I planted the lima beans and carrots (that didn't even sprout) along with some cucumber, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, garlic from last fall and onions. The onions were from last fall too - I thought they weren't going to grow and then suddenly they went bonkers. I have pulled a couple and they are very good - sweet and mild, but still small. The broccoli was doing pretty well and starting to sprout some little baby broccoli heads. I was having a bit of a problem with some sort of worm eating through a few leaves, but I thought I was staying on top of it. Then one day after a rain I walked out to check and over half of the plants were gone and the remaining plants and leaves were absolutely covered in these little worms!! I was so upset - they were everywhere! I had to pull all the plants; there was no saving them. :( The spinach and the lettuce produced a ton of edibles until the heat got to be too much for them. The garlic seemed to be doing great, then just last week it seemed to go from "almost ready" to "past ready" so today I pulled them. They bulbs were starting to sprout their own plants and separate. I am still pretty proud of them since they started from 3 little cloves I haphazardly poked into the ground last fall.

The cucumbers are going bonkers out there and taking over the bed. I will soon have more cucumbers than I can deal with. Thank goodness Kiddo loves cucumber. Maybe, I will have enough ready at the same time and can make some pickles!

In the other bed I planted okra, snow peas, black beans, tomatoes, basil, peppers (bell, jalapeno and banana) and dill. The okra are growing great! I get 2-3 beautiful, perfect okra every day. The peas were doing really well at first (better than anything else in the bed actually) but when it started staying really hot during the day they just couldn't handle it. I will try to plant them earlier next year. The black beans absolutely thrived and I am now getting a ton ready to harvest every couple of days. The tomatoes were slow to start but are coming in nicely and the basil is absolutely beautiful.

After a couple of months of absolutely no growth, I finally started treating the peppers with some coffee grounds. They finally took off and I now have several bells, jalapeno and yellow banana peppers that will be ready in a couple of days. I am very excited about it because I have never had success with peppers before.

When everything but the beans seemed to be struggling at first, I tested the soil to see where on the scale everything was. It seems the soil is pretty Alkaline (above 8.0) which is just amazing to me considering how much compost I added to it before I planted. It is also pretty much void of the essential nutrients like Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. Seriously, I have no idea why. Though I have to say that after giving the nitrogen loving plants some coffee, they perked right up. Also, the recent rains have helped a ton - I think a lot of the nutrients were "locked" in the soil because it would get so incredibly dry between waterings. Hopefully I can remedy that some.

We have 3 little blueberries about to turn blue and the blackberry plant is finally blooming. I didn't expect much from the blueberries - one of the pair or plants is less than a year old and they aren't supposed to produce the first year. I hope next spring will be a great one for them.

The zucchini; my word those weird zucchini plants. Last year I had more zucchini than I knew what to do with. This year the plants are super small and so bizarre. One day they look great and the next they look almost dead. Then half the plant will wither and the other half will thrive, and then a day later the opposite will happen. I have no idea what to do for them. I am going to try to build up the soil some and see if it helps. I have seen some squash borers so they probably don't have much longer to survive, but I will try to keep them going for a little longer. I have harvested a couple of small zucchini from them, but I am not expecting many more.

So, I guess that is the long version. Gardening is such an amazing, frustrating, rewarding, confusing adventure. Maybe some day I will actually get good at it. lol!

D :)

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