June Garden Greenery

We are back from a wonderful vacation in Ocean City, New Jersey. As much as I wanted to stay longer, gathering shells and soaking in the sun, I knew real life needed my attention back at home. Not to mention a growing garden, and a grumpy cat! So here I am, back to reality, and thankfully, back to gardening. Here is what the garden has been up to.


The garden enclosure has been busy lately! The shelling peas are giving up their last pods…this was my first year growing peas and I loved it. I will definitely plant these every year. Shelling them is so therapeutic.



…and right beside them are the bush beans ready to take their place once I clear out the peas. I planted plenty so we should be in great supply for summer and freezing.


I’ve had mixed luck with my tomatoes from seed this year – some are doing great, some seem stunted. The three tomato plants in my enclosure (Cherry Lizzano, Gardener’s Delight, and Box Car Willie) are thriving, showing nice growth while I was gone. Here’s the Cherry Lizzano earlier this week – he’s even taller now, stretching out over the rungs that are above it in this picture:


Sadly, the tomatoes I planted in pots on the deck are not thriving as they should (too much rain, maybe? It has been quite wet.) I might have to swing by the garden store and purchase some heirloom tomato plants to replace the Cherokee Purple on the deck. Ironically, The best looking tomato is this guy:


This heirloom is a volunteer from last year, most likely a Brandywine, having dropped from the deck above. In spite of the partial shade and the less than hospitable ground, he’s doing great. Maybe I should plant all my tomatoes this way.


Last but not least in the enclosure (I have to come up with a nickname for this structure – enclosure is so boring) are my onions. I have planted these parade onions from seed for three years now, and I just love them.

Moving over to the Grow Camp, I have cucumbers taking hold quite nicely:


Along with lima beans that are eager to move into their neighbor swiss chard’s territory:



The eggplant seem to have recovered from their challenges earlier in the season and are growing nicely.

The kale was the first seed to sprout and it’s flourishing as quickly as I harvest it:


Last but not least in the Grow Camp, my bell peppers are already starting to form. Still waiting on the Jalapenos to take off.


On the deck in pots this year: Okra. I love okra. But I swore when aphids devoured it my first year gardening that I would not bother with them again. Well, I received several as a gift and could not turn them down. I’m using all the homemade aphid remedies I can think of, and they seem to be helping this year.



How has your garden grown in June? Leave a comment and let me know!

Summer Garden Gallery

Real Easy Salsa

This is a fresh, easy salsa that requires no cooking, tomato peeling, etc.
Gotta use up the cilantro before it bolts on me!


  • 4-5 medium, ripe tomatoes, chopped, seeds removed
  • 1/2 large Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (less if you’re not a big fan)
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped, seedy core removed
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped, veins and seeds removed
  • Juice of 2 small limes
  • salt to taste


In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. If you wish, you can pulse this a few times in the food processor, but do not over-process or it will get too watery. You may wish to taste test this first with 1/2 the jalapeno, then add more heat if needed. I did not add garlic to mine, but you can certainly add a minced clove if you wish.

Tomato Success Kit

Along with lots of love from the family, time spent with my mom, dad, father-in-law and sister, and a meal I didn’t have to cook (thanks, Hubberman!) Mother’s Day also brought a special treat my way…

A Tomato Success Kit from Gardeners Supply Company! If you have read through some of my other posts, you may remember I have a bit of an infatuation with the Gardeners Supply Company Catalog.

For those of you who might be considering this kit, I thought I would take you through the set up, step by step.

What’s in the kit:
The kit comes with the planter itself, of course, with a tray that fits neatly inside for self watering. It is also outfitted with a little watering drawer. Also included in the kit is a cage, container mix, coir potting mix bricks, tomato fertilizer, hardware for use on the cage, and instructions.

What you will also need:
You will definitely need a large container (or wheel barrow, or something) for mixing the soil. It will be too crowded to mix it in the container itself. Here’s what I used:

You’ll also need gardening gloves, a pitcher for pouring water, a hose or water source, and something sharp and pointy (drill, etc.)

Here’s why you’ll need something pointy. The first step is to remove the inside tray from the planter, locate these little cones in the container and drill holes into the top for drainage (if it will be used outside.)

Next, you’ll place the black tray back in the container and then install the inside piece for the watering drawer. One little tab goes over the tray, and one under on each side, as shown above.

The outside portion of the watering drawer is next. It easily slips into the opening on the front of the container.

This was the fun part – the coir potting mix! Open up your bricks and place them in the big container. Add the instructed amount of water and wait until the bricks absorb the water and expand.

Once the water has been absorbed it will look like this:

Time to break it up!

Next, it’s time for the container mix.

Mix, mix, mix!

The last component of the potting soil is the fertilizer. Add it, and mix it!

According to the instructions, this next step is important for the self watering functionality. Thoroughly press a small amount of the potting mix into the grooves of the tray in the container. This will ensure that the soil comes in contact with the water below and wicks it up to the roots.

Pour in the rest of the potting mix until the container is filled to about an inch from the top. I found the soil does settle a bit, so go ahead and be generous. I did have some left over for other containers. Bonus!

Next comes cage assembly. The cage came out of its wrapping partially assembled with some clips already in place. The instructions give a pretty good indication of where the rest of the clips should go. I will give one piece of advice here – the clips are a little tricky. They are strong, which is good, but that can make them a little hard to snap in place. Also, be careful as you slip them onto the cage. On several, I slipped them on above where they were going to be and slid them down. This resulted in the powder coating of the cage being marred. Not a big deal, but if you’re like me and don’t want even the slightest bit of damage to your new purchase, I would recommend placing these right where you want them to minimize damage to the cage. Here’s a photo of the placement I used:

Last but not least, you need to secure the cage to the container using the clasps provided.

That’s it! Also available are casters and a cage extension, though I do not have either yet. The instructions indicate that this planter can accommodate two large determinant tomato plants. Ever the optimist (or maybe I’m just naive) I placed two indeterminant plants in it. So I think I have a cage extension in my future.

I’m so excited to see my heirloom babies thrive in this planter. I’ll keep you updated on their progress!