Saturday, June 30, 2012


This morning Pooka, Daddy and I made refrigerator pickles. Daddy did the slicing while Pooka and I made the brine. Pooka helped me put the herbs in the jars and pour the cooled brine. They will be ready in 7 days, but Pooka was just excited to be canning and using the stuff from her garden. She told me yet again today how much she loves her garden.

Pooka's picture of her pickles
We had run out of "store bought" pickles and I knew later this summer I will have cucumbers coming out of my ears, but I didn't want to buy another set of pickles when I can make them cheaper and the interwebs have recipes for free. Sadly, we didn't have enough cucumbers yet (so a quick trip to the store was involved), but we did use her new dill plant. And we made the refrigerator ones so we could eat them sooner. 

So now to wait 7 days and see if they taste like anything. Wish us luck. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The paradox of me and gardening

I have finally hit that point. I am tired of the garden. I am tired of the waiting and the hoping and the "Did I water it? Did I not? What did I do wrong? When will I get something from the darn thing." This is when I get fed up and go "You know what, I am tired of waiting. Give me some instant gratification, now." while picturing beating the plants one by one.

Oh come on, tell me you have never visualize beating on the plants before.... Oh, you haven't... Forget I said that okay?

This is the reason I get fed up, that I get tired and stop caring for it. The waiting and the work for no real reward. Now Pooka, she still adores it (partially by having Mommy do all the boring work). She's out there having fun, picking a few strawberries, being amazed that her tomato plants are bigger than she is. Most of the strawberries are being eaten by Pooka, her brother and E (Pooka's friend).

I know what your saying, We have gotten a few cucumbers already, and strawberries, and like 3 green beans. So you have gotten something. And it is still early. Things don't appear over night. But right now, I want those nice big tomatoes I have been waiting for, I am still searching for the beginnings of a pepper on the pepper plants.

Do I think I did something wrong? Nope. Am I tired of waiting? OF COURSE. And I know the wait will be worth it, but this is the point where I get frustrated.

However, today I found a way past this. This afternoon, I decided to go get some lettuce for my lunch at work. I walked out there with a trusty pair of scissors, a bowl and  Pooka. We harvested the tops of some of the lettuce. (It shouldn't kill it). It's still young and while it wasn't enough for an entire salad, it was SOMETHING, (besides the strawberries the girls ate). I know by the time fall comes, I will be making ENTIRE salads out of the garden, but today, I was ready to eat something we grew. And today I will be.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Containing the madness

Well, yesterday I did it. I contained the tomato madness. It's not pretty, it is definitely function over form, but it seems to be holding back the madness of the tomatoes and it actually looks alot less like a passing child might be eaten by it.

During lunch yesterday, I went out in the back yard with a few more poles. They are just cheap plant stakes (The plastic coated ones) and some zip ties. Daddy had done some work previously with the same poles and string, but since he has that whole Eagle Scout knowledge base, he knew what he was doing. I was doing what I seem to be doing with all this gardening stuff. Throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Anyway, we made one really big cage for the tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. The poles overlap and are either tied or zip tied (hey, they were reuseable zip ties, so it was green) to the verticle poles. It is holding pretty well and it has some supports either by triangles or just plain rope to keep it from falling outward by holding it to the trellis.  

The end was too long for one of the stakes without cutting it (And since my time frame for this was while the kids were eating lunch, I didn't have time to cut much). So instead I strung the Kite string I found between the trellis under the deck and the steaks. Again, not pretty, but its allowing the celery some sunlight. Something it hasn't had much of since the cherry tomatoes over-ran his area. 

Talking of the celery here is a current picture. It has grown some, but not as big an explosion as say the tomatoes. I think alot of that is that he is being overshadowed by said tomatoes. That and I need to check if he's a cool weather plant. (Anyone want to save me a trip to Google and know the answer to that one?) 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

2 more additions

So after going to the store to buy a tiny package of rosemary to make a pest repellent, I remembered why I hate buying herbs at the store. For what I paid for that overpriced little pouch, I could of gotten at least seeds, if not the plant.

Fast forward to this morning and my decision that IF this works, and even if it didn't, I refused to buy more rosemary at the store. So I packed up the kids and off to Lowe's we went. We needed stakes for the tomatoes and a few other odds and ends, but a cute little Purple Basil jumped out at us and into the cart. It didn't help that one of Pooka's favorite colors is purple and that she really wanted to try a new food. (The trying new foods I really don't want to discourage since she will try ANYTHING).
Can you guess which is the basil? 

Now we have Rosemary and a second Basil plant. I am wondering how much the flavor is different in the purple. I suppose I should be more like a Pooka and just try it.

Tomorrow I will try to get the pictures up of my afternoon's work. Custom made tomato containment that is functional if not pretty and news on how the tomatoes are fairing.

Monday, June 25, 2012

One day I will learn....

...that after about Father's day to stop letting Pooka go look at plants at Lowe's, or a nursery, or well anywhere. Especially after she makes a decent argument about how we need something. In this case, it was Dill. She wanted dill so we could make dill pickles. Oh and then I remembered I use dill in my garlic herb bread, and then I thought about the other places we use dill, and while Daddy looked at us funny and brother complained that he just wanted to go home (in brother's defense, he had just finished a baseball game, on the tail end of a super busy weekend where bedtime never happened).  We went to Lowe's, and bought a register vent, some blue tape for the kids to make spider webs with and a dill plant, and a container for the dill plant (since I am kinda running out of pots).  So welcome to the party Mr. Dill. We hope you like your new home between Ms. Oregano and the Cilantro clan. Oh and don't mind Ms. Flossweed, shes a quiet one.

In other news, we realized that my supposed chives pot doesn't have chives in it. We don't know what it is, however, 3 sad little chive seedlings have popped out to say Hi. Now we need to decide what we should do with them. Do I try and weed the other seedlings out of that pot, do I just say forget it and go buy chives (and risk another nursery run), or do I just let science take it's course and wonder? It will probably be let science take its course and pull the non chive things as they get bigger.

The one thing I realized today, no yesterday, it was one of those days that ends in y, I need to get out there to weed and stake up the cherry tomatoes and put another set or 2 of supports on the big tomatoes. Maybe I will get that done today, or maybe tomorrow. First I need to see how many stakes I have left to build with. That may be the limiting factor.  Well, besides the fact that they are too big and a bit too close for traditional cages. which means more experiments for all of us in engineering. (And Pooka has said before "I'm smart, I'm an engineer." Granted she turned a shoe string, a door knob and a trash can into a ballista, but that's another story and topic entirely).

Friday, June 22, 2012


Pooka's picture of her harvest
This morning we went outside to pull the 2nd strawberry and I realized we had some cucumbers ready. Our first cucumbers from the garden. We had 3. Pooka was so excited, she asked if she could have them after dinner as desert (gotta love veggie loving kids). They are a tad small, but with that heat wave we had, I am not as surprised.

Pooka's picture of her cucumber plants

However, I love how the cucumbers have started to climb the trellis on the bottom of the deck. Its going to hopefully make keeping on top of the cucumbers  and harvesting alot easier. 

Another Pooka picture of the other cucumber plants
So I ask you all: got any good canning recipes for cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers?? I plan on making a bit of salsa, and some pasta sauce. I have ideas of what I want but no real idea on how to do it. Now to figure out the procedure to go from idea to reality.

Hello. Ms. Dragon
Remember the snapdragons I told you about. Well they finally bloomed and Pooka loves showing people how they "talk". She is asking multiple times a day if she can take Sister S's baby out there "So I can have the snap dragon teach her to talk."
I have a feeling these may become a staple around here. (And for all those people I know are saying it "Yes, I know they are pink. The package was a multi-color, so hopefully the rest of them will be other colors" )

Thursday, June 21, 2012


So that may seem a bit exaggerated, but lets be honest. These are the 2 plants in the entire garden that are MINE. Not Pooka's, Mine. You see my dear friend/Adopted sister Steph helped me get these lilac bushes from my Grandmothers. They are from her bushes, bushes that I remember getting in trouble for playing hid and seek without telling anyone (but that's a different story and a whole different train of thought). Long and short of it is, they mean the world to me, and I have always dreamed of having some.

So in April, Steph was wonderful enough to go with me to collect my own lilacs (even tho she was up here for something else, but she still lives 4 hours away). As you can see, one has done quite well (the one she told me would be fine, it was a good strong one). However the second pot we were afraid it was a bit sketchy. 

Well the second pot looked dead until about a month ago I saw that little faint green in the back. Then today, I walked past my lilacs to check Pooka's plants and low and behold there was NEW GROWTH on the plant I was sure I was going to just have to sacrifice to the lilac gods.  It's not much, and it may not be the strongest little thing, but it's alive.  And I have a Steph to thank for it being there, since this is my 4th time trying to bring home lilacs and the first time they have survived this long. 

Eventually, these poor things will go in my front yard, but Steph told me it might be best if they spend the summer in miracle grow and then transplant after the epsom salt (That we used to remove the other bushes in place) has cleared out of the soil.

So thank you so much Steph. I love you and I owe you a million. How about I come do some work or something at your house so long as it doesn't involve me touching your garden? (since we both know I may kill it if I do).

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The first Strawberry

Today Pooka got to take her first true strawberry (aka one she had grown and not one from the plant before we bought it).  Pooka took the picture. It actually turned out to be 2 of them that had grown together. So Pooka gave me half and she had half.

Later this morning we found one that will be ripe in a day or two. Looks like we are going to be having strawberries in the near future. 

If only you could of seen Pooka's face as she ran out there in her little nightgown. She is so excited to finally start seeing the food she is growing, and to smell and taste it. Because everything out there she is smelling daily and she has to taste the leaves of the herbs. 

Our dear Sister S also informed us the other day when she was here that had I pinched off some of the flowers I would get bigger strawberries. Another thing to note for the future. You only learn by trying and remembering to write down your results (that's the hard part). 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Finally, starting to see some results.

So after another weekend of neglecting the garden (and a huge downpour of rain during that) Pooka was finally excited to see some results.

We went out this morning and found our first tomato. Its still tiny and green, but its a start.

We also saw a strawberry starting to turn red. That required me to remind Pooka she can't pick it till I tell her.

The garlic cloves we planted only a few days ago are growing great guns. They have at least a few inches of growth on them and the lettuce is starting to show lettuce shaped leaves.

The Snap Dragons (which are a favorite of mine because my grandmother always grew them so they would "talk" to me) are starting to flower. I am kinda excited over this one.

Before this year, my general rule for gardening was throw it in the ground and forget it was there until like July. This year since I am out there, I am noticing spots on the leaves of different plants. Now, I still don't know what the heck that means, but my dear sister S gave me a book on organic type gardening so we will see how that works (and if I am smart enough to figure it out from a book).

Oh and for the record, the morning glory (Now referred to as Audrey) is in fact, taller then me (she keeps trying to grow off the top of the trellis even as I keep winding her back down). Big thing I learned from this plant is to READ THE PACKAGE.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A busy few days

After a super busy weekend, and a even busier week (Daddy and I realized this week and next will be nuts, then we will hopefully fall into a routine for the summer). The garden has been a bit neglected. Not horribly, it was still being watered more days then not (missed a day or 2 over the weekend).

Anyway, I went outside yesterday and actually looked at it. Strangely enough, I have lettuce growing. I was shocked. I never expected it to grow, but hey, luck is on my side, since it's certainly not skill. One of the 2 window box planters I planted it in is growing like mad. The second hasn't sprouted yet, but I think thats mostly due to it only being 7 days yesterday and the package said 7 to 10 days for sprouts. And while I don't remember which seeds I planted where (I really need to pay better attention to that next year). It is growing.

In other surprising news, the herbs I had literally given up on (and bought plants of) started sprouting too. So now we have Basil and Oregano sprouting. I really need to stop giving up on things. Oh well, more herbs means more to eat right and maybe at the end of the summer I can keep them alive indoors since they are in pots.

I also have some cucumbers really getting to good size. I haven't really seen much for the tomatoes or the peppers, but I know they are blooming and just hoping I will walk out there and see signs of color in the mass of tomatoes. Or maybe I am hoping for too much. I just don't know yet.

All in all, its growing, and with this cooler weather (Compared to the GIANT heat issue we had a few weeks ago) I think its helping but I don't know for sure. I know its helping the stupid morning glory. That thing has climbed the entire trellis and is almost taller than me. But it is Pooka's garden, so as long as she is happy with the darn thing (And she is, she checks every morning for new flowers) then that's all that matters, I guess. (these were there yesterday morning).

Oh and one last science experiment since I could. I pulled some garlic out of the fridge yesterday and it had sprouted. I took it outside and put 2 cloves in the ground. I found a bit of space around the pepper plant the most beat up from the bugs. Maybe the garlic will help protect it, or it will be fertilizer. We will see.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Well its been a busy couple of days here.

First off, our gardening book arrived. I have read about half of it and while it has some info in it that I already knew, it is giving me ideas. Some might argue that me with ideas is a bad thing, or that it is entertaining. However, the best part is the minute I brought it in from the porch and Pooka saw it was a book on gardening, she grabbed it and ran off to read it. Now while she still can't read (but we are working on that) she loved looking at the pictures. As it stands, Pooka has looked at it numerous times and had me read different passages to her about things like. "Mommy, what does it say about Pablano plants or tomatoes."  So its a good thing for both of us.

Today we started some lettuce. I know its late to be starting that, I am hoping I can get something out of them since I read I could possibly have lettuce in 3 weeks (yes, this is something I got from the book). I am really hoping for that since I eat a ton of salads with my work schedule and it would be a nice change. Otherwise I will hope they make it to fall and try again. I think this might be one to cross our fingers on.

A funny thing happened the other day as we went out to buy a wedding present for some good friends of ours. While we were at Kohl's, I noticed they had some little end tables for patio sets on clearance. Being that I have a hard time not checking out a clearance area. I went over and found a nice slate tiled top table that wasn't priced. I asked someone (turns out it was the manager) and she said "Well, even if its not officially marked down, I will give it to you at 60% off." Uh, okay. So now the new strawberry plant has a "plant stand" that can double as a table when all our family is visiting and we need the horizontal surface.  I liked that table so much I may go get another and call it a match set. *smirk*

One huge suprise yesterday was OUR CELERY is growing. I put it in the ground on about 4 days ago and it's already got a nice little set of leaves going. Who knew. I so thought it would end up fertilizer.  (It's a bad picture since it's a vertical picture and I can't seem to figure out how to flip it).  Now to wonder how long till we can harvest the thing.

This morning we also noticed our Chives are sprouting. So Pooka is all excited. She has to taste everything and wanted to know when she could  taste the chives. I told her to let them get a bit bigger first. 

Last time I promised some quick pictures of the raised beds.  They aren't much, but the lattice work is for the climbers and then the bed itself is made out of wood from our old deck. We replaced it about 2 years ago now, and the old decking was in good shape, so saved it (because we just couldn't throw away good project wood) and it's become a good home for the plants.

The side with the pepper plants (Note I took these pictures at like 9 in the morning. By 10:30 almost everything is in the sun for the rest of the day.)

The tomatoes and the cucumbers. And I am aware I planted all this too close together. It had to do with the pots I left them in between the seed starter and putting them in the ground. They seem to be growing fine and all have tons of flowers. Good thing I plant in miracle grow. 

 Oh and yes you may see little sparkly dragonflies and butterflies. I originally let Pooka pick out a few to let her be creative with the garden and have some fun with it. Since then, I realized the metallic coloring and the fact that they move a bit and flap when its windy is keeping birds and critters out the garden. So she was allowed to pick up some more and she gets to go out there every couple of days and rearrange them "so I can tweak the birds." (Her words, not mine). 
Last but not least our broccolli and Pablano plants. This little bed is under a window and next to the house. I have since learned I need to watch it because even if it rains the overhang from the house may prevent the bed from getting much of water.

Please remember all, I am still learning so some of this is a giant swag to me as well so advice is appreciated. And thank you to all our friends who gave me some advice on how to save the poor pepper plants.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


So does anyone know a child-friendly bug killer? It seems something has decided the green peppers and sweet peppers are yummy and it is becoming a problem. I have tried the last day or so a soap and water solution but I kinda took a swag at it and I am not sure if it will help them or not.  Any ideas??
The plant on the bottom is my "I can't believe that plant is still alive?" plant. It's a sweet pepper that as a seedling someone watered too vigorously and it wouldn't stand up.  I transplanted it anyway (Figuring worst case it is fertilizer) and what do you know, it started to stand up again, but that's when whatever is attacking the plants got to it. Now it looks really sad. Even if I don't get a single pepper off that plant, but it lives till the end of the summer, I will be amazed. 

But seriously, anyone got a good idea to deal with the bugs? I am trying to stay away from chemical pesticides, but if that is what it takes to get those peppers a break, I will do it. 

Thanks and hope someone has an idea. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

In the beginning

So yeah, I wasn't going to go there. I guess as my first post, this would be a good time to kinda go over whats going on up till now. I'm Mommy, and I have a 4 yo Daughter we shall call Pooka. She's a sweet and curious girl so when she asked to know more about plants, well I obliged.

So Pooka and I started a garden (which seems easier then starting this post). Most everything began as seed that Pooka placed on seed starters. Some took, some didn't. Some took much better then others. But in the end, we have plants.

We currently have out there from seed:

Big Tomatoes (Real scientific there huh)
Green beans
Cherry Tomatoes
Sweet Peppers
Green peppers
Morning Glories

Since then, due to either not growing from seed starters, or wanting instant results, we now have:

Strawberry plant
2 Pablano pepper plants

And today I went to the store to buy some chives and came home with a second Strawberry plant for $3. Its perfectly fine, but its starting to get  to the end of the time for planting them and the nursery wanted them gone. And seeds for chives which may or may not grow, but its better then the empty pot we had for green onions (We think Daddy accidently watered the onions too hard and threw them out of the pot).

Something we litterally started 2 days ago was celery.  I heard that you could grow celery if you just chop the end off (as you normally would for breaking it down) and place it in the ground. So I did. We are waiting to see what happens there.

So far the results are kinda spotty. We have only gotten 2 Green Beans (Off a plant I had started to give up as a casualty of me, but its coming back) and alot of cilantro out of the thing, but everything is blooming like mad.  I guess I should try and remind myself here that its still early. That it's only the first Tues of June (as the tornado sirens reminded me this morning). This is earlier then I have gotten things before, but I think its also I am actively watching it instead of throwing in the ground then wondering what that is a month later. That whole watched pot thing. Although the Cilantro is flowering so I may end up with Coriander as well.

Oh and this is a picture of Pooka's first Morning Glory, it lasted about 4 hours before a rain storm came and beat the tar out of it. There are other buds on the plant as you can see in the picture. (Let the record show, I don't know why we planted a flower that I can't eat. That darn thing is a pain since its tried to climb the cilantro, the deck, the tomatoes. I am pretty sure if Pooka looks at it too long, I will need shears to get her out. Its behaving better with a trellis, but I have my eye on it).

Now to be completely honest, I don't know a darn thing about what I am doing and I am hoping here that Mother Nature will make up for where I seem to kill things. I know Pooka has a green thumb since I couldn't grow a thing before she started helping me.

If you have any advice, I would love to hear it. Granted most of these pictures show containers, but alot of the bigger plants (tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers) are in the ground in a quasi-raised bed/planting bed all around my deck. Even with our yard being larger, we have a big dog and 2 kids so play space is essential (And if I put a giant garden in it, it means everything in it will get trampled at least once.)

Oh and anyone with a good Kid friendly/safe pesticide or repellent I would appreciate. The peppers are getting  picked on since they are still small (Gotta remember to start those earlier). All I can say is the leaves are being eaten, and there are some small type of bug flying around. Beyond that, no clue.

Maybe next update will have pictures of the peppers and the landscaped planter bed. Don't know when that will be, but apparently I have a blog now. Thanks for checking us out.