an end to the summer season

The end of the summer means a lot of different things to me but right now I’m thinking about my garden. My summer crop is growing crazy still because I planted everything late but I’m already supposed to have my winter crop in! I don’t think it matters much as long as I get it in soon, like next weekend soon.

I learned a ton from my first summer season. Even will all the mistakes learning experiences, I had a pretty great crop. I’m hoping that means my winter garden will be just as good if not better!

If you haven’t read any of the garden posts yet, here a recap. -> I started off with most of my plants in the greenhouse where they struggled from the lack of light. I then moved the dying plants to a spot on the side of my house. I knew they still wouldn’t get the 8 hours or more of sun that they needed but I was hopeful! ย And finally when I realized they weren’t dying (!), I spiffed up the outdoor garden with supports, mulch, and a drip system.

With all that progress, I got a lot in return.

I have 5 tomatoes plants which have given me well over 100 little tomatoes and counting. At one point I got over 50 in one week! I’ve used this recipe three times now. I’ve even experimented! I love a sweet sauce so I skipped the garlic, added two green peppers from the garden, and two tablespoons of sugar. It’s so good!

A couple days ago I found a behemoth. Look at this giant zucchini! You would have thought I won the lottery by the way I was dancing around with my ‘trophy’.

I’d only seen one other rotted zucchini before this one so I didn’t think I’d be getting anything edible. I was collecting tomatoes for sauce when I spotted it.

I’ve heard that they can get too tough and ‘seedy’ when they get too big but I sliced up half of it and made zucchini crisps. Cheesy and delicious.

With all this great crop, I still have some issues that I need to figure out. My peppers have a bug problem. I’ve been able to rescue some but the plants look pretty sad. I haven’t done anything to prevent bugs so I need to do a little research for my winter crop.

You can see in the photo below that some of the leaves are eaten away. Meh, I don’t like bugs!

I also still have that lack of sunlight problem. Look at what this tomato plant did! It grew up and over the fence all the way to the ground on the other side looking for sun. Poor thing.

I know the winter vegetables don’t need as much sunlight so hopefully it won’t be a problem this time around.

As you can see from the photos above and below even though they’re still producing, the tomato and bean plants are ready to go. I was hesitant a month ago to rip them up because they were still going strong but now that they’re a bit weathered so I know it’s time for new, winter vegetables.

This coming weekend I’m hoping to add in some broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy greens.

Tending to my garden is so fun to me. I’m learning a lot which I love and I get food in return! Such a great hobby. I’m excited to try new recipes with the crop too! I’m thinking soup and more soup. ๐Ÿ™‚

What are you growing in your winter garden?

garden upgrade

It’s been about a month since my last garden update. I’m learning as I go so in the past month I’ve made some upgrades and conclusions about my two growing spaces. For any newbie gardeners out there, I thought you might enjoy some tips!

Vegetables like consistency in watering. They like the soil to stay moist all of the time.

The the first week or so that I planted my outdoor garden, I found it difficult to regulate how much water they needed and when. I had trouble with over watering in my greenhouse and was scared I’d hurt these new plants too.

As luck would have it, I ran into a display at Lowe’s for a drip system that looked perfect for my problem. It has a timer that I’ve set to 15 minutes in the morning and 15 at night. Lately during these super hot days, I’ve also turned it on at lunch time to combat the major wilting.

The good thing is that the little drippers are direct (as you can see in the photo above) so you know the plant is getting the water. This is unlike watering with a hose where the plant is getting some water but the weeds around it are also getting a ton! I had a LOT of weeds before I put the system in.

The next thing I realized that I needed were some tomato cages. The bamboo pools weren’t tall or strong enough to hold up my flourishing plants. A couple times I came home to a plant bent over a touching the ground. I was like an ER doctor in a life-threatening situation in the way that I moved to jury-rig a taller pole! I saved them both times, thank goodness.

After that, I got the cages and carefully inserted them into the ground. Once the tomatoes start growing I’ll be able to rest the limbs on the levels of the cage so we don’t have anymore close calls.

My biggest plant which happens to be one of the guys that fell over, needed some more stem support so I used twist ties to help it stand a little better. I’ll readjust the ties as the plant keeps growing.

Roary was being a good girl that day so she got to hang out with me outside the fenced-in backyard. This normally doesn’t happen because if a squirrel or a scent is near by she can’t help but bolt. She decided that it was way too hot to stay next to me so she found the only shaded spot and plopped down in the sea of ivy. She’s a prissy lady who doesn’t even like to put her bare bottom on tile floor (only carpet), so this was really funny to us. ๐Ÿ™‚ So hardcore like her hound dog sister nowadays.

The last upgrade I did was cover the drip system and surrounding soil in mulch.

I’ve heard that this will help keep the moisture in as well stop the weeds from growing. I don’t know about that though, those weeks are ruthless!

Oh! You can see in the photo about how I rigged up the taller poles, ha.

This is a picture of one of the very, very tall tomato plants in the greenhouse. The LED light has helped their growth but I think it came along a little too late. Because they spent most of their growth searching for the sun, they’ve grown too tall and thin. They are flowering but even the biggest tomato cages are too short for them.

Recently, a landscaper confirmed that we have to take a couple dying trees down in our backyard so I might try again next year with the greenhouse or expand my outdoor garden. For now, I’m going to try my best to keep the greenhouse plants going and see what happens.

My conclusion is that the outdoors plants are doing much better! I was afraid that they wouldn’t get enough sun but obviously they’re doing better than the ones indoors.

Gardening is so fun!

How’s your garden growing? Do you have a link to any photos? I’d love to see!

homemade compost bin

Yesterday I made a compost bin. It took me like 5 seconds (equivalent to about 25 minutes in a non-exaggerator’s world). I can’t even get over how easy it was.

I searched the internet and found this video from About.com that I decided to copy.

I bought a new no-wheels trashcan from Lowe’s but if you have an old one that you can use for the project, it’d keep your cost down to zilch. Make sure it has a lid that works though! You’ll need it.

The photo above shows my supplies: trash can, drill, green and brown matter. I found this article that explains what the green and brown matter is for and how composting works if you’re curious.

Begin by drilling lots of holes all around the side of the can. The holes are necessary because the microbes that break down the matter need air to survive. It also reduces the smell among other things. I don’t know what size the drill bit was but it looked to be about 1/2 inch in diameter. It seems like a good size to help the air circulate.

Make sure you do the drilling on your driveway or a back porch (not on grass like me) so that it’s easy to sweep up the debris. I spent a good amount of time picking up these little plastic scraps. They were everywhere!

Here’s the bin in all it’s holey goodness. I just eyeballed the spacing by the way. No need to make it perfect.

After that, in went a layer of brown matter. Be sure to tear the paper products into small pieces, it’ll help them decompose quicker.

Orange Green Matter.

And another layer of brown matter in the form of leaves.

If the matter doesn’t stay moist the microbes that break down the material can’t survive so if you live in a super dry state, you might need to water your mixture about once a week. I probably won’t be watering again because I live in the humid South but I didn’t want you to miss a step!

Next, cover the can with your lid. Make sure it’s secure. You don’t want any critters getting into your ‘food’ and also when you roll the thing, you don’t want smelly compost everywhere.

One of the reasons to use a trash can is so that you can tip it over and mix the compost by rolling it about once a week. This will help speed up the process a ton. I’ve read in a couple places that in anywhere from 4 weeks to three months you’ll have fresh compost ready and waiting.

If you want to reduce a little carbon footprint, I’d say this is the way to do it. You’ll take out the garbage less, your trash can in the kitchen won’t stink to high heaven like it sometimes does and in a couple months you’ll get FREE compost to help your garden grow. You may not be a hippie who wants to save the earth but those are some awesome reasons to start a compost pile.

Do you have any green habits or projects? Feel free to share!

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On another note. The Grow Light that I mentioned in this post has come in! It looks like a crazy UFO but all the plants in the greenhouse have really perked up. The big test will be how much fruit everything produces. I’ll keep you posted!