It’s about that time…

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Winter has been a bit underwhelming this year in our region. All the things my family loves about this season have been sorely lacking. Namely, snow. The kids actually resorted to trying to sled on sleet a few weeks back. Instead of lots of fun, fluffy white stuff (remember, we homeschool and hubberman works from home so getting snowed in is fun for us) we have instead been getting an abundance of grey skies and wind. Lots and lots of wind.

Add to that the Seasonal Affective Disorder that seems to be scooping up people by the armful, and then sending them all out twitchy and grumpy on the roads to honk their dissatisfaction at anything that moves.

I think we all need a little sunshine about now!

While keeping the plates of homeschool spinning over the past two months, I’ve been staring longingly at my seed and garden catalogs. I’ve decided, it’s time. Tomorrow I sit down with my seed catalog and plan out and order this spring’s garden.

Last year, I made a point of journaling my lessons learned my first year of gardening. Now that I have two years under my belt, I’m adding to my list of lessons and goals. Here’s what I have so far:

  1. This year, no cabbages. They were yummy and all, but they just take up too much square foot garden real estate. There is so much more I can be doing with that space.
  2. No squash either. Same reason.
  3. Last year’s amount of green beans was perfect! Just enough to keep a steady flow coming in the kitchen without being overwhelming. Plant the same this year.
  4. Try a leaning trellis for cucumbers. I don’t want to give up on cucumbers just yet, and I think that a trellis might be the answer. I’ll give them one more chance to not be annoying in my garden, and then sadly they will have to go the way of the squash.
  5. Try a few new things I have not tried yet. As I browse the seed catalog, I’m going to challenge myself to order something a little unusual, just to give it a whirl. You never know until you try!

What are your garden plans this year?

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Winding Down?

The grow camp and deck garden are starting to send the message that the growing season is coming to a close. After an impressive second wind, the bush beans are spent. I don’t think I’ll be getting much more from them. The tomatoes have also slowed down to a crawl, with only cherry tomatoes still in active production. The eggplant are still producing, even though they were being choked by the cucumber vines (I decided to pull the cucumber plants out today as they were not producing much besides foliage. I did find the cucumber pictured above hiding out under all the vines, though!)

One plant that hasn’t slowed down is my jalapeno! “Spicy,” as the kids have named him, is producing like crazy! I never expected to get this many peppers off of one plant, and this isn’t even all of them!

Fluffers the Cat checks out the harvest.

I have some more recipes to share this week, including an easy green bean side dish and a tomato soup that I created by accident while trying to make tomato sauce! I’ve also been trying my hand at heirloom seed saving. Stay tuned!

P.S. If you want to know more about the furry critter pictured above, you can read his story here.

 

 

 

Purples and Greens

This past Tuesday, I raked in my best harvest yet – a basketful of pretty purples and greens!

The bush beans had dwindled over the past few weeks, but it seems they have gotten a second wind! This is the most I have been able to harvest in one day.

The jalapenos are going to wait for a few more of their friends to join them and then they are destined to become poppers.

The purple pepper is the very first from my carnival pepper seeds. These plants are not big producers (they weren’t last year, either) but they sure are pretty when they do produce!

Last but not least, the eggplant! I’m still thinking about what to do with these beauties. We have already done eggplant parmesan, and I’m already planning on breading and frying the poppers, so I’d rather not bread and fry the eggplant, too. Any ideas, fellow gardeners and veggie lovers? Tell me how you like your eggplant! 

So Long, Squashies

Remember the squash that were suffering from blossom end rot in the Grow Camp? Well, I ended up pulling out the squash a few weeks ago. It pained me to do it, but it had to be done. They were taking up way to much space to just sit and rot on the vine.

Here they are after I pulled them out of the enclosure. A sad sight to be sure, but it did provide some much needed breathing room for my peppers.

I could almost hear my pepper plants thanking me for the much needed sunlight.

The squash at the bottom of the basket were all I was able to salvage from all those plants. Hubberman was able to make a delicious side dish from them, though. He stir-fried them with the eggplant from this picture in a light sauce of sesame oil and soy sauce.

Better luck with squash next time, I suppose! Adding that to the “lessons learned.”

Trouble in Paradise

As I was watering my Grow Camp this morning, I noticed some trouble brewing in Squashville.

If I’m not mistaken, this is blossom end rot. It’s quite a bummer, because these squash were looking really good so far. I have a feeling this has to do with soil depletion (specifically calcium) where I planted them. I’ve been a bit cavalier about where I’ve planted things, not really heeding any soil prep guidelines. Seems I’m paying the price for placing my squash in already depleted soil.

With limited space comes limited patience. I’m afraid I might just have to yank these guys out of the Grow Camp if they are just going to rot on the vine. They are taking up A LOT of space.

Gardening gurus…is there hope for recovery, or should I yank these puppies out of my square foot garden? Any advice would be much appreciated!