Aug 25, 2008

The dead... has arisen.

Um... Sandi?

Update with photos to come very soon. Over the next day or two... I've been busy. :)

Aug 22, 2008

So I don't forget...

I planted daylilies along the fence, Planted 4 O'Clocks to their left and on the little corner where the dracaena used to be, Planted some smal... hmm.. things? in front of the dayliies. I'll have to look at the bag to see what they are.

Dug up a TON of daffodil bulbs. I'll get those around in the next week or so. I hate having the bug with no fundage. I spent $10 on mums today and put them out front. I hope they'll get enough sun.

The front garden looked great for a few years, now there's just too much shade. The whiskey barrel finally rotted so much I had to take it out. There is a big empty spot in the garden now. Everything just looks... blah. All the same height.. etc. I need a perennial that is tall and colorful that will last the entire season and thrive in shade to part sun. I'm dreaming right?

Aug 20, 2008

Back to business

What a beautiful day... 75 degrees and sunny! Perfect for gardening.

I was neglecting the garden a bit over the last month. The pests, the heat, my empty weed whacker were all depressing me. I helped a friend move some things around his new garden (ok, so I pulled weeds and watched him do the hard work), that in combination with the nice weather I had the itch to get out in my own.

I cut the grass, did some weeding and moved a few things around along the patio. I pulled out the tall, purple, spiky things (how's that for technical?) and moved the canna from the front yard to a spot next to the strawberry grass and moved the ones already along the patio between the roses and the daylilies. Finally moved that calla lily and those other leafy things (again, technical?) into their own spots next to the canna. I also moved the Asian lilies into a clump near the strawberry grass in hopes of having some color there all season. Once the lilies are done the canna should be coming up and flowering in late summer. Hopefully it wasn't too early to move everything, my plan was to wait for fall. I dug up some dayliies, cut the fans and put them bare root in a flower pot with damp newspaper.. dropped them in the shed. Hopefully I'll get them in the ground along the side fence (front yard) by Friday. I've a huge box of bulbs that have to go in the ground... I hope the weather stays nice.

I mulched along the patio where I planted the new stuff. I had one bag in the shed. Damn... now I've got the itch and no supplies and no spare dough. Maybe next week I'll buy a few bags of mulch and some mums and daffodil bulbs... maybe.

Vegetable wise, The diamond eggplant look great but last time we picked those they had black, mushy spots inside and a little worm. I've seen squash borers on the flowers so I guess that's what happened to that plant. The others seem to be OK though. We cooked the white, the black beauty and the japanese for dinner a few nights ago just to compare tastes. The white were nice and firm and not bitter, but the Japanese were our favorite.

I'm getting lots of peppers, no complaints there. If you've read before (or chatted with me, or passed me on the street and made eye contact) you know the story with my tomatoes. We're getting an OK yield, but not like last year. We can pretty much eat what we pick but there's not a huge surplus that we're freezing or giving away by the bagful like last year.

We've picked about 5 cucumbers total and the plants look like they're dying. They have lots of yellow leaves and vines and a few of the cucumbers out there are yellow and deformed. Bummer.

Aug 12, 2008

My poor, poor tomato plants.

Here's my after vacation harvest. Unfortunately my tomato plants look like they looked in late Sept last year. I don't think I'll be getting many tomatoes after this.

The plants are dry.. they're yellow... my tomatoes are rotting. I really think blight is killing them. I'll have to move them to the other bed next year and I don't think I'm planting nearly as many. It's just too depressing to see them like this! I was gone five days visiting with friends. I told Joe to water everything every night, to pick anything that was ripe.. etc etc, so they weren't negelected. It HAS to be blight.

The cucumbers are doing OK. I've got two ready to pick and one that is a little retarded looking. Lots of flowers but not many females. They're still doing better than last year so I shouldn't complain.

On the other hand, my eggplants and peppers are doing wonderfully. Nothing pickable just yet (other than ONE chocolate beauty), but they're coming along and look healthy unlike the tomatoes that seem to be rotting before they're ready to pick. I had an awesome suprise waiting for me when I came home... one of my white eggplants DID survive! I picked it tonight! I can't wait to cook it up for dinner tomorrow!

Jul 24, 2008

Today's (not so bountiful) harvest

Four little diamond eggplant... They're about 7 inches long. We fried them for dinner and the boys ate them up. They were nice and small, firm and not bitter. I may have picked them a little early but they're small anyway.

One retarded black krim tomato... it was stuck between vines, hence the retardedness. It was our first of that variety, it was nice and sweeet. Of course the boys ate the majority of it after J and I had only a taste.

One Silvery Tree Fir tomato.

J and the boys did a pretty good check of the tomato plants for more hornworms. Looks like our little parasite infected friend is the only one out there at this point and he's not looking so hot. Lets hope there aren't any more. My neighbor lost a tomato plant.. it died within a few days. No clue what happened to it. I hope whatever killed it stays on her side of the fence. I told her about the hornworm... she didn't seem phased. She grew up on a farm and always gives me little tips about growing veggies. I'm convinced she can grow anything, which is why her dead tomato plant concerns me a bit.

Jul 23, 2008

Tomato Horn Worm

Apparently these giant things can kill a plant within days once they're moths. They also can over winter in the soil! The one I have on my plants is parasitized (which is a good thing). The white thigns are eggs from a kind of wasp. The website says to save it in a jar and feed it till they hatch.. but what do I do then? Leave the lil wasps go in the garden?

I also read they can attack peppers and eggplants... if this gets out of hand I'm screwed.

For Sandi

Death comes to us all...

Well, it's July alright.

July and August are hard on my garden. My flowers are always droopy despite watering every day... the pests seem to be in full force... It's too hot to get out there and do any major work so the grass is over grown and the beds are full of weeds.

Today while I was tying up the tomatoes I spotted this not-so-lil caterpillar.

I'm not sure:

A. What it is
B. What is on it
C. If I should worry it's on my tomato plants

It was very cool to look at though. I guess I'll have to do some googling and asking around. The white things look like eggs, not sure how one would lay eggs on oneself but I guess that's possible right?

I think my tomatoes have early blight. I'm really on the fence about using a fungicide but I might have to. All that work only to be lost to a fungus! Not really what I was hoping for. I've started watering specifically at the ground level (in order to keep the leaves dry) and I think I may purchase a soaker hose in the next week. I've also tried to clip off most of the infected leaves in hopes it wont spread too much. I read that this fungus can stay in the soil for about 3 years so I guess I'll have to rotate the beds next year. A lot of those black spots all over the place makes for an unhealthy plant.

We've harvested 3 lil Silvery Tree Fir tomatoes and they were SO yummy! We've got lots of green ones all around, but none ready to pick. Hmmm.. come to think of it, when will I know when the Green Zebras are ready to pick if they're green when they're ripe? I guess I'll know when I see it.

Everything seems to be chugging along pretty well otherwise. The eggplants are producing regardless of the flea beatles. These are Diamond Eggplants. They stay thin and grow to be abuot 6-9 inches long. I've got a few around that size I may cut for dinner one night this week. I have a Black Beauty plant out there (the big eggplants) and another variety I'm not sure of. The vines are purple and the fruits are long and thin and a little pointy looking. I can't even remember WHERE I bought it let alone what variety it is.
No white eggplant this year, but mom has one that's doing well so I might be able to sample hers.

The cucumbers have blossoms and are growing like crazy, peppers are everywhere.. so far I'd say everything is doing very well despite the heat and leaf spot (damn those tomatoes!). I think it'll be only a few weeks before we're really harvesting good bunches of veggies! I can't wait!

Jul 2, 2008

one last try

I was browsing the garden center at 'big box mart' today (shhh I don't usually admit to that) and I bought one lil pot of cucumber plants that looked pretty healthy. One last shot. They're in the ground, watered... I know it's late but the plants are pretty big... we'll see.

Jun 30, 2008

Tomato cages Gilligan style.

Mr Primitive Archer himself came over today to help me build some support for my very rapidly growing tomatoes. We used bamboo and twine... simple and it does the trick. I did less tying up than I thought I'd have to. I'm just going to keep an eye on them and tie as needed. If I need to add another tier to the structure later I will. Last year my plants were taller than me so it's a possibility.

We have blossoms... and tomatoes! They're burried deep in the mess but they're in there. It always amazes me how quickly they grow... hell it amazes me that these plants were once teeny lil sprouts in my bedroom... and now they have fruit. So far I've only spotted Silvery Tree Fur tomatoes but all the other plants are loaded with blossoms. The Rutgers plants look especially wonderful, very strong and healthy. They're the tallest of the bunch.
I've also spotted eggplants. They're small. Real small. Smaller than peanuts. Come to think of it, they're about kidney bean sized. But, I'm very happy. For a while there I thought I was going to lose them all together. The new leaves look much better and I'm seeing fewer pin holes. I guess that whole healthy plant thing holds true. I did lose all the whites though (I think, I guess time will tell).

Here's a little insignificant-in-the-grand-scheme- of-the-world success story for ya. See that little, lone clamatis? I've been trying for two years now to get that thing to climb my mailbox. Notice it has CLIMED THE MAILBOX (ignore the broken fence behind it). Sigh.. it's the little things that make me happy (unless we're talking about that fence). Now only if I could really get it going next year... move that one by the front fence being smothered by ivy and they'll be two of them. Imagine the vinage! Ok, I'll stop.

And just a few more shots from in and around the garden over the last week or so... some lilies, lavender and the Gilligan tomato structure. I'm not entirely happy with my recent photos as my computer... the one with all the cool photo editing stuff, is down and I've been using my husband's.

weed = herb = something else I didn't know

A few weeks ago my oldest son had a little sore on the corner of his mouth. He and my dad go for a little walk, come back and tell me they "put special medicine on his boo boo". My dad is famous for picking something random from the wild and knowing WAY more about it than the average dude out for a walk. I was a little freaked out about what 'medicine' was applied so closely to my son's mouth until my dad shoved a Primitive Archer magazine at me with an article on this very abundant weed.. er... herb. Now that I've read about it I notice it everywhere (one day I'll post my uphill battle to grow grass).

I just grabbed this lil tidbit from the web:
Read the whole thing here

"Medical evidence exists to confirm uses as an alternative medicine for asthma, emphysema, bladder problems, bronchitis, fever, hypertension, rheumatism and blood sugar control. A decoction of the roots is used in the treatment of a wide range of complaints including diarrhoea, dysentery, gastritis, peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, haemorrhage, haemorrhoids, cystitis, bronchitis, catarrh, sinusitis, coughs, asthma and hay fever. It also causes a natural aversion to tobacco and is currently being used in stop smoking preparations. Extracts of the plant have antibacterial activity, it is a safe and effective treatment for bleeding, it quickly stops blood flow and encourages the repair of damaged tissue. The heated leaves are used as a wet dressing for wounds, skin inflammations, malignant ulcers, cuts, stings and swellings and said to promote healing without scars. Poultice of hot leaves is bound onto cuts and wounds to draw out thorns, splinters and inflammation. The root is said to be used as an anti-venom for rattlesnakes bites. Plantain seeds contain up to 30% mucilage which swells in the gut, acting as a bulk laxative and soothing irritated membranes. The seeds are used in the treatment of parasitic worms. A distilled water made from the plant makes an excellent eye lotion. "

Amazing right?

... what exactly is eye lotion?

Jun 23, 2008

Who knew?

Dusty miller bloomed?
Neither did I but I'm sure glad it did.

I've been slacking off a bit in the garden since the swim season started. For instance, I should be out there watering right now but I'm inside finishing up entering meet results.

The flowers beds actually look just fine. A few weeds here and there but nothing to clutch your pearls about. The window boxes are alive so I must not be slacking off too badly.

Speaking of window boxes... I don't just overcrowd tomato plants. Look at that thing! I would have liked to put some purple queen in the middle and the bright green sweet potato vine on the outsides but I had to work with what I could find. Next year I'm sticking to purple on the inside regardless of what plants are available.

One more shot of part of the front flower bed. I love this lambs ear. It comes back nicely every year and I've been able to separate and plant it all over the place. Soft, fuzzy leaves. :)
The petunias I bought were %75 off because every one in the flat looked just about dead... Not one bright bloom. I dead headed them, kept watering them and viola! Teri gets a steal from the giant home improvement store!

Vegetable wise, the cucumbers died. I'm not even going to speculate what happened there (ahem... water). The tomato plants look absolutely wonderful and are starting to get tall and bushy. I've got two tiny tomatoes on a silvery fir tree plant already! The rest all have blooms. I'll take pictures soon enough. I've staked most of the peppers. For some reason my peppers and tomatoes grew a lil crooked this year. No matter I guess, they seem to be doing well.

I'm confident the eggplant are going to survive the flea beatles. I've got a few plants that look wonderful, a few that look so so. I'm sure most of my failures this year are because I'm not tending the garden like I should. It's just so hard to find the time to get out there during the swim season.

Jun 9, 2008

empty nest

The robins flew the coop last week. I was able to snap a photo of one in an azalea. One hung out in the ivy on the fence, and the other in the lilac.

Free Tomato Plants!

Ok, so they don't look so hot, but they're free nonetheless. I posted a freecycle for my left over tomato plants. I have about 30 out there just waiting for love. They look horrid I'll admit, but if they're transplanted and staked they'll do just fine. I gave 4 of them to my neighbor, I'm sure she'll plant them but lets face it.. she's a widowed 81 year old woman and really how will she be able to eat all those tomatoes? She's already got two in the ground! Not to mention, she's the first person I think of when I've got a surplus. The plants themselves don't look too bad they're just all crooked. You can see from the photo they're just kinda... well.. crooked!

It's ridiciously hot in NJ for June, 99 degrees for three days in a row so far. A lot of the veggies are wilted even though I watered around 10pm last night. I'll do my best to get out there again tonight and give them a good soaking. The weather is another reason I've got to get rid of those extra tomato plants as soon as possible. The left over peppers I had all died from the heat and lack of water... they looked wonderful too. Bad Teri... Bad.
My eggplants are fighting flea beatles. I read that most healthy, strong plants will be able to fight them off but sheesh.. look at them! I've just about lost my Rosa Blancas. I only had two left and they're just pathetic. I'll have to read a bit more on what to do about them, I'm not a fan of pesticides since I've got two little ones playing in the yard. I didn't have this problem last year and my eggplants did very well. They're a big staple for us and we were looking forward to a few different variety this year. I'm keeping my fingers crossed they make it.

The snow peas are doing very well and I'm kicking myself for not planting them all along the chain link fence like I'd planned. There aren't really enough to bring in for anything substantial. I could take them ALL and throw them in a salad but I don't really want to do that. Matthew grabs one for himself (and one for grandmom) every time he passes by and eats them right off the vine. I guess they're just a fun mini-crop for now. I don't really mind too much, but they sure are delicious and I wish I had more. Hopefully I'll read this next year and take action.

Lets talk (or view, rather) overcrowding shall we? 5 varieteies of tomatoes... I'm sort of looking forward to untangling the mess come July/Aug. I'll build some bamboo cages... cages, who am I kidding.. they're more like something you'd see on Gilligan's Island.
Since I'm posting my failures... check out my broccoli. Note, broccoli doesn't do well in containers. Not sure if I'll try this again next year or not, even directly in the soil.

The lettuce is still doing OK. I took an entire head of redleaf to my parents house yesterday for burgers and I thought it was a little tough. I'm not sure when to harvest them (hellooooo ever hear of google?). The romaine is still kind of tiny and I haven't even pulled a leaf yet. I planted a windowbox of romaine for my mom and it really took off. They looked wonderful but had a little white, fuzzy insect on them (aphid?). Needless to say they're not doing very well now. She did take one and said it wasn't up to par. I'm drenching mine with water at this point because it's so hot out there.. I really hope they can hold on a bit longer. If they start to go south, it looks like a salad of baby romaine for dinner in the next few days!

I broke down and bought a few cucumber plants from home depot. I have some room next to the tomato bed that I'm considering turning into a lil cuke haven. More to come.

Lastly... here's a success (ok, two). I moved all these daylilies from various places in the yard last year and planted them along the patio to make a little garden room. Ok, so it's not a real garden room bit it's as close as I can get in my little teeny yard. They looked really sad last year, this year they're taller than Joey! He's standing right up against them believe it or not. I threw some other lilies in there and I think I'll clump them together in the fall.

This sounds like a pity party I know, but overall I'm very pleased, just annoyed with the heat and the pests.

May 29, 2008

Little Vermont Family Garden

If you're going to read a real gardening blog, it's this one. She's an environmentalist, a mom, she grows her own vegetables... she's a REAL person with no frills or fuzzy lenses. I'm always stalking her site and I get impatient when she hasn't updated in a few days.

Little Vermont Family Garden

Now go read.

End of May

May and June are my favorite months for the flower gardens. Everything is blooming and green and there are no wilted leaves from the heat. Snapped a few photos over the past two weeks, not all gardening but outdoors in the garden.. nothing really to report.

Something is eating my roses. I asked around and was told to look for aphids, but didn't see any. I really have no desire to get lost in the depths of rose gardening (I DO have other plants to take care of), so unless it gets really bad I'll leave it alone. The rose photo was taken on May 16th, and I realized that doesn't look any worse today so maybe I'm in luck.

And a few just for fun. :)

They're in the ground!

All veggies in the ground as of Saturday the 24th. They're not much to look at so no photos just yet. I woke up on Sunday to find that something had eaten a Rutgers plant down to the soil, and munched heavily on my Mr. Stripey. Oh! I had tomatoes coming up in the bed from all the rotted ones falling off at the end of last season. I bought the Mr. Stripey tomatoes at the produce stand last year for $1.50. Talk about a great investment! They were big, yellow and orange streaked and very low in acid. So beautiful and very delicious. I put them in many a cucumber salad last year. I replaced the Rutgers plant and put a Black Krim in place of the Mr. Stripey. The Black Krim plants seemed to look the healthiest, which is why I chose to use that in place of the rabbits lunch.

The Chocolate Beauty peppers look better than the Garden Sunshine ones and he Diamond Eggplant look better than the Rosa Blanca. I didn't harden them off, which is probably why. Secretely I'm hoping I lose one of each plant so I can go buy some from the nursery. I saw some pretty neat stuff out there... shhhh. ;)

If only I had more room

More room would mean I wouldn't have to grow things in containers on the patio. Right now I've got Romaine and Red Leaf lettuces, Broccoli, and Snow Peas in various containers. Everything is doing very well except for the broccoli. A friend told me it was hard to grow and apparently it's next to impossible to grow in containers. I may try to pop them in the ground between the eggplant and peppers... I'm a fan of over crowding the garden but I think that might be pushing it. I learned how large eggplant plants get last year and the poor broccoli will be smothered. I have to keep reminding myself why I left space between them and the peppers.
The Snow Peas have flowers on them, not many came up.. (could it be the container?) about 4 plants out of maybe a dozen planted. I didn't plan to actually grow them in a barrel, but it made for a fun project for the kids. I meant to plant some along a chain link fence in the yard but never got around to it and since they need to be in the ground in April.. I guess that will wait till next year.

Finally out of the bedroom

...and on to the sunporch!Sometime in April I moved the vegetables to the sun porch. They got a lot more sun and I didn't have to worry about them tangled up in my bedroom. Late april I transplanted the tomatoes into peat pots. My photo says this was taken on May 18th, but I can't be sure.

The Rutgers sprouts were by far the hardest of all the tomatoes. They also grew a little (ok a lot) crooked, I'll have to look into that for next year if I can find the seeds. A friend of my dad's, ordered theses heriloom seeds for us online (thanks Mary!), I'll have to get dad to ask just where she ordered them from as I haven't seen them anywhere. From what I understand, Rutgers tomatoes aren't very disease resistant... lets keep our fingers crossed that the four I put in the ground survive. I planted a full tray of 36 and another half tray for a full 54 plants. By the time I transplanted to peat pots there were about half of them worthy of keeping (more likely that I didn't kill).

Look what we found in the garden..

We spotted this on May 6th. I've been sneaking out there and trying to snap some photos whlie the mommy bird is gone, so far (thankfully) I haven't been attacked. The nest is only about 4.5 feet off the ground and I worry that a cat will get them, they're doing great so far.

They hatched on March 17th, the same day as Matthew's 3rd birthday party. There are only two hatched at this point, but the 3rd survived just fine. The boys have been really good about staying away from the nest. They watch from the window and can point out the mommy and daddy robins easily. What I always thought was really cool (really cool?) about robins is that they keep their nests very clean. They remove feces, the eggshells.. anything that isn't supposed to be there.

As of today (May 29th) they're doing well and getting very big. I snuck this photo yesterday. Pretty soon I'll have to start to take them from the window so I don't scare them out of the nest before they're able to fly. I really wanted to try to catch one of the parents feeding them but I don't think it's going to happen without a giant lens.


Finally things are starting to come together. Over the past two years I've been freecycling, ordering, and sharing perennials. Moving them around, seperating them and creating new flower beds. I'm still stuck on a few places. There's a spot by the front door that is half shade/half sun and I can't seem to get the right combination of things there. I'll see what I can do there this fall. There's also a place under the window box by the front door that gets full sun but I've just got it crowded with junk. I even threw some herbs in there (parsely, and basil). There is some purple and white Aster there and I think I'm going to take it out. They're not that pretty, they don't stand up well and they sure don't last long. Not to mention their mess just takes up space after May.

There is some sage there that came back from last year (rightwith purple flowers). I didn't realize sage came back but I guess it's because we've had such a mild winter. My lavender is back as well, although I don't know if that's naturally a perennial or not. The strawberry grass looks wonderful as do the hosta. I seem to get more and more shade every year. My guess is the previous owners of the house would cut back the front tree every year or few years. Since that isn't in my budget, I'll just learn to love shade plants. :)

I put purple, green, and varigated sweet potato vine, dusty miller (oh! which also survived the winter in the flower beds), and petunias in the window boxes. No photos of those just yet, I'd like to wait for them to really grow in and start to hang before I show them off.

Hey Sproutlets :)

I'll have to check out the photos and see if I dated them properly.. my green zebra tomatoes were the first to sprout. I get really excited when they come up, like I've succeeded in something (ok, obviously my life isn't that exciting). Once they're up I panic a little, worried that I'll somehow kill them.

From my photos, looks like the Chocolate Beauty peppers started to show themselves on March 13th. I'm sure the tomatoes sprouted first, followed by the peppers, followed by the eggplant. I was actually a lil worried the eggplant wouldn't come up.

The photo above shows tomato sprouts, not sure which variety though. For some reason I'm leaning toward Black Krim or Green Zebra. Next year I'll post everything as it happens and I wont have to rely on my poor memory. To the right, is a Chocolate Beauty pepper sprout.
Overall I'm happy with them, I just wish I had more room for vegetable beds. I considered getting a spot at Barkley Farms, but when I factored in gas, time and the rental fee I concluded it just wouldn't make much sense. I'll just have to keep my nose to the grindstone and push Joe to keep at it so we can afford to sell and buy a new house, with a bigger, better yard. :)

in the beginning there was peat moss

I started my vegetables from seed again this year. Last spring I started them on March 30th, this year I started them on February 27th. I really wanted to get a jump on things as last year, I thought my plants were a lil small to put in the ground last time.

From seed:
  • Black Krim tomatoes
  • Green Zebra tomatoes
  • Silvery Fur Tree tomatoes
  • Rutgers tomatoes
  • Chocolate Beauty peppers

  • Sunshine Garden peppers

  • Diamond eggplant

  • Rosa Blanca eggplant

  • Outhouse Hollyhock (ok, not a veggie)

  • Snow Peas

Not from seed:

  • Romaine Lettuce

  • Red Leaf Lettuce

  • Broccoli

    The kids helped and had a great time. They planted some of their own in little plastic cups with holes cracked in the bottom. Sure, it made a mess of the dining room but they dug it (no pun intended). Matthew decided to eat dirt and Joey, in true Joey form was 100% completely organized and VERY careful to place one seed in each hole.

All the peat pellets and cups went upstairs into my bedroom next to a sunny, east facing window. I don't remember how many cups, but there were six trays of 36 pellets.


I'd been toying with the idea of starting a gardening blog for some time. I read several, enjoy reading them... and I'm envious that the owners of those blogs can look back and see how their gardens have progessed and what changes have been made from year to year, which is really why I wanted to do this. I'll have to do a few posts over the next few days just to get caught up on what I've done so far, have to start somewhere right?