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Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Dear Abby"

We planted a week ago and have not been encouraged.

The Sunday morning after we planted was glorious. The tomato plants had lifted their leaves to the heavens and the jalapeno plants already had small blossoms. So we went to church and praised along with them.

Then we came back.

We saw disaster looming -- leaves had wilted, stalks were bending.

Everything seemed to grow worse as the week went on.

We have many friends and family members who garden, so they offered lots of different advice. The trouble that I was having was trying to diagnose exactly what the problem could be so that I would know whose advice to follow.

So today, I made a desperate plea. I don't know "Abby"of "Dear Abby" fame, but I do know Tyler, whom I will henceforth refer to as Dr. Tyler for the care-giving advice he supplied.

Dr. Tyler was originally just playing delivery man. He had a dish we had left at church once and offered to bring it to our house. I accepted and begged my friend, whom I know to be a home gardening semi-expert, to come and look at our deplorable garden during his visit.

(Sorry Dr. Tyler, if "semi-expert" is not correct. Perhaps expert would have proven more accurate?)

When Dr. Tyler arrived at our house, he set my green baking dish on the kitchen counter then headed for the garden. It was as if he could sense the need for his talents...

...or maybe he saw the sad condition of my tomatoes and peppers through the open kitchen blinds.

The doctor squatted down next to the raised vegetable garden and started running his fingers though the dirt to check the moisture. It reminded me of Bill Paxton from Twister picking up the dirt in his hand and letting it fall through the air to watch wind movements.

Instincts. That is what I lack.

Dr. Tyler said the garden looked dry and recommended a change in our watering routine, so tonight we picked up a new sprinkler. No more watering from a hand sprayer.

He also helped us to replant our tomato plants. He said that the stems still looked healthy, so we shouldn't give up hope just yet. (We were ready to buy new plants and start all over again.)

The prognosis was more promising than I had hoped. I figured I would be told to replant and that I was doing several things wrong. I was even ready to start searching for a therapist that could help me with all of my insecurities as a gardener. (I had begun to avoid looking at the garden because of how pathetic it looked.) Instead, we have a new sprinkler and a friendly neighbor to come and advise us as we grow our first crops. The tomatoes and peppers aren't out of the woods yet, but the situation looks much more promising.

Happy Sunday, everyone!



Note: Dr. Tyler is not a real doctor. However, I hear that what he lacks in medical knowledge he makes up for in style and personality.

Second Note: Dr. Tyler will not be referred to as Dr. Tyler outside of this blog. (Sorry, Tyler. Didn't want to get your hopes up, but thanks for the help!)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Leap of Faith

It's done.

The plants are in the ground. All of them. There are no more plants for this season.

We went to the local nursery this morning and picked up the rest of the plants and seeds.

I worked on planting the thyme, oregano, basil, and parsley while Tim added some more dirt to the raised vegetable garden. I also wanted cilantro, but the nursery was out for today.

We did get our jalapeno plants today. They already have some blossoms, too. As of right now, there are little baby jalapenos in my garden. Let's see how many we have a month from now.

We planted two varieties of bell peppers. The "California Wonder" (a green bell pepper) and...

...the "Golden Belle" (a yellow bell pepper.)

For me, the big excitement was the tomatoes. We planted four "Roma" plants. Can you say pico de gallo?

The only thing not pictured are the "Nantes" Carrots and the "Buttercrunch" Lettuce. I planted those as seeds today.

This is me getting ready to water the garden and telling Tim not to take a picture.

Can I just say that two first-born children with strong opinions make interesting spouses. We have a great marriage (dont' get me wrong), but projects like planting highlight how much we both have opinions. For the record, it's usually a tie at the end of the project since we both listen to each other at least half the time.

This is the hanging plant that I picked up at the nursery. The pansies aren't necessary, but they're pretty. So I batted my eyes at Tim and waved some of my "fun" money that I can spend on anything and added the plant to the cart.

In one morning, our backyard has gone from sparse to green and blooming. We've made the leap of faith and spent all of the time and money to get this garden growing. Now, it's time to watch it grow.

Thanks for reading. I'll post more picks about once a week so we can see how things turn out.



Sunday, April 3, 2011

Birth Order

We planted onions, garlic, potatoes, and strawberries four weeks ago.

After 10 days, we had a few onions peeking through. (Look closely. They're there!)

We also had some garlic rising through the surface.

These plants kind of reminded me of the hulk. These big green stems cracking the soil as it rises up.

(Yes, I have a very active imagination. Don't be jealous. It has served me well all these years.)

As of two weeks ago, our box of dirt with tiny green plants actually started to look promising.

Notice Levi patrolling the perimeter. He keeps these plants safe. He knows no fear -- as long as you give him about 20 feet of space.

Anyways, back to the plants!

Currently, we've had obvious luck with onions and garlic.

The onions were first. As the first borns, they are probably bossing around all of the other plants. I know this because I am a first born. I can relate to the pressure the onions feel to demonstrate how plants are supposed to grow.

Then there was the garlic. The garlic was only a few days behind. Adorable with it's bright, waxy green stems. The youngest child (err...plant), the garlic recieved many oo's and ah's.

Unfortunately, though, the garlic has been bumped from the youngest child (plant) spot.

*drumroll, please*

We now have potatoes!

As of today, there are four tiny, cute, leafy green (too many adjectives??) potatoe sprouts coming up. There is a new vegetable joining the garden. If we had showers for baby plants, we would arrange one for our potatoes. However, we are semi-normal people, so I just celebrate on-line.

We have potatoes! We have potatoes! After four weeks, they're not dead! We did something right! We're growing potatoes!

Okay. Enough celebration. Now for the next question: What's with the strawberries? They still haven't sprouted.

Thanks for reading!

As always,


Sunday, March 6, 2011

The First Plants

Well, we have plants in our vegetable garden!

First, we planted onions.

It turns out that you buy onion starters by the pound. One pound gave us about three times the amount you see in this picture. We have extras if you need any. These are yellow onions because that's what the local nursery had on hand.

After the onions, I planted strawberries.

I still think strawberry starters look funny. Kind of a big knot with these spindly branches shooting off.

We've tried strawberries before without much luck. I'm praying for more success this time!

After the strawberries, we planted garlic. (By the way, when I say "we" it's figurative. Tim is on hand for any hard manual labor and Levi is available for the best advice a Yorkie can give. I did all of the dirty planting.)

I was surprised that garlic starters are just garlic cloves. Does that mean I could have just used the stuff in my kitchen? (I dunno, but somebody does. If that someone's you, please feel free to comment.)

The last thing we planted today was the potatoes.

Again, these are just potatoes (Yukon Golds) that had eyes sprouting. You cut them into quarters and then plant them in the ground.

I can't think about harvesting potatoes without remembering all of the high school history classes that talked about Ireland and potatoes. Not sure why. Maybe it's an emotional connection? I'll mention that to my therapist.

(I don't really have one. I know you were worried. Or were you relieved? Hmm... Either way.)

Well, that's what we planted. Here's a few more pictures from our day:

Tim strung actual guidelines so I would know where each square foot is and not plant outside the appropriate area. It was his idea, but my type A personality liked the idea. Nice, neat, and organized. Judge us if you wish.

Further proof that I strive for organization. These are the garlic cloves that have been laid out before I plant them. I am normally not this organized, but little pieces of garlic are so easy to keep in rows. My desk at work does not look like this. *sad face*

I really appreciated the hand spade with the depths marked onto the blade. How deep is two inches? Well, it's when the two inch line on the shovel is even with the dirt. Very handy!

This is Levi. He is always ready to inspect our work. He will even lick the dirt to check the soil quality. And roll in the grass to make sure it is nice and soft for us. He is the inside dog that wishes he was an outside dog.

Well, that's it for today. Here in a few weeks I'll be planting tomatoes, jalapenos, green peppers, lettuce, and herbs. In the meantime, I'll post updates about the items I already have going.

Oh, and if there is a frost between now and then I will be posting some questions, so be ready to help!

Thanks for reading!



Sunday, January 23, 2011

Making the Bed

Yesterday, Tim and I took advantage of the nice weather before the latest cold front. To start,
we borrowed a friends truck and gathered what we needed at Lowe's.

Tim took pity on me and helped a lot. Helped = Did almost everything. I used the ruler and made the executive decisions, like "where should we put this thing?"

There was lots of drilling involved. (I don't believe I used that verb appropriately, but that's okay.)

At this point in the project, Tim started praying a lot.

At least, I think it was praying...

Either way, I asked if I could do anything to help. When he said no, I took a moment to tend the other garden that we have.

This garden is very prolific.

If this garden produced food instead of laundry, I could solve world hunger. I could bring world peace. I would be rich.

...but it doesn't.

Any who... I returned to check on the man, brought him some food for lunch, and eventually we had ourselves a box.

(Disclaimer: The camera is tilted. Not the box. Sorry. Still learning!)

It has it's issues, but who doesn't? We happened to pick some wood that was just as hard-headed as the two of us together. Then the wooden stakes that support the box started splitting. (There may have been another round of praying then. Not so sure.)

I'm hoping to add the dirt next weekend. ("I" being "We.") Our local nursery said their starter plants arrive next month, so we'll be adding some onions about mid-February.

As of right now, I still do not have a "garden" but I do have a box for one. The Green Patch Novice is moving on up!


(See this blog by the Pioneer Woman to see more specific directions.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Planting is like a Blind Date

I have one of those job that gets snow days. *smile* So, I've spent part of my snow day looking at a few gardening websites. Of course, this has only brought more questions. (Do you see yet why I need each and every one of you?)

I requested my first seed catalog, but I could use names for companies you trust and recommend for ordering seeds. I mean, think about it. Who can I trust to provide me with months worth of fresh garden happiness?? One wrong order and I could spend the summer looking at a box of dirt. Dirt!

Also, I am realizing that there is no such thing as "lettuce" or "tomato." I bet dirt isn't just dirt anymore, either.

So, since I don't have much experience with such specific names for plants, I wanted to ask for some recommendations. I feel like I am being set-up on a date, but I'm not sure who I'm going to meet. I'm looking for strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers (the green ones.) What specific varieties would you recommend? For example, I found a "Buttercrunch Lettuce" on a website. Is that the one I should plant?

So, you have two questions: Where should I go for seeds/plants? What varieties should I plant in my garden? Any advice would be appreciated!

Sincerely and warmly,


Monday, January 10, 2011

Onions Stink Up the Plans

So, this afternoon I had some time on my hands. (I was procrastinating, actually. Do the details really matter?) With this "extra" time, I decided to Google onions and information about planting them. I stumbled across this link from Texas A&M. It look detailed (maybe more than this novice needed) so I started reading.

Here's what I learned: Onions from seed have to be started in November.



I wanted onions this coming spring/summer. That's already about 5-6 months out. Now I have to wait until November? Do you realize that's now 11 months until I can plant them? That means over a year until I will have homegrown onions.

Do you smell that?

It's the onions that just rained onion juice on my planting parade.

Now, you might be wondering, very legitimately, why I would want onions. Well, onions are one of those things I hate buying from the store. Like bell peppers or tomatoes. They just seem so crazy expensive. That's probably because I never memorize the price of an item, so I'm shocked every time I see it. (I just revealed another issue of mine in this post. If you haven't caught on to them yet, then I won't mention them again. Deal?)

So where does this leave me? Right now, I don't think I will be planting onions this spring.

So I am currently home-grown-onions-less.

However, on the up side it provided me with a question to ask. (Onions and Texas A&M, you two still aren't off the hook for spoiling my planting fun.)

Where do I go to find out when to plant what? I'm considering plants like tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, carrots, lettuce, and strawberries. I'm also considering herbs such as cilantro, basil, rosemary, thyme, and parsley. If you have any advice to offer, please comment below. I am not sure where to turn to find a planting calendar, and one that I can trust.

Your help is needed!