Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Indoor Gardening

"Thank goodness for pot growers!"

"Umm... what?!"

"There's a ton of information on how to build effective grow boxes on all the pot growing sites. They're even more dedicated than veggie gardeners!"


We've been talking about getting more pots to supplement our current garden beds. So when Keith mentioned pot, I naturally thought that he was talking about containers, even though what he said didn't make much sense. But, no, he meant the other kind of pot. Ah. That makes more sense now.

I haven't even started any seeds for the fall planting yet, but Keith is one step ahead and already thinking about the winter. He wants to build some sort of an indoor grow box where you can not only start seeds, but also grow full-sized vegetables (real vegetables, not pot) in the winter. Initially, I was a bit skeptical, but after doing some quick internet research, I'm starting to warm up to the idea. Apparently it's possible to grow some leafy and root vegetables, and even fruit-setting ones like tomatoes indoors with proper lighting. And no, I'm not talking about full greenhouse operations, which I do know is possible.

Do any of you have any experience growing vegetables indoors during winter time? I would love to hear about your setup and what you've successfully grown indoors.

P.S. After reading Granny's comment, I would also like to hear about any unsuccessful attempts, and any lessons learned.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My First Harvest Monday

This is my very first time participating in Daphne's Harvest Monday! Although my harvest isn't quite as bountiful as those of the more experienced and successful gardeners out there, I'm still very proud of my harvest. I'm still amazed that I can actually grow anything edible!

This week, I harvested mostly green onions. The larger ones were the ones I grew from my grocery store leftovers (I bought a bunch of green onions, ate them, saved the last 2 inches of the root ends, and planted them in a pot). The smaller ones were thinnings from the green onions I'm growing from seed this year. Not really knowing what I was doing, I sowed the seeds really close to each other (they all sprouted pretty much touching each other), so I still have a bunch more to thin out. They may be small, but they still smelled and tasted very onion-ey.

Oh, and I also cut some oregano and thyme for Keith to use in the rub for his pork loin roast, which I ended up missing last night because I was in a rush to get to the airport. Here's another picture of the green onions after they were washed.

We chopped up the green onions (both big and small ones) and used them to make some tasty breakfast on Sunday.

Even though I still have a lot of green onions left in the garden, I decided to save the root ends to see if I could grow them again. I cut them much shorter than I did last time, just to experiment and see if they will grow from stubs even shorter than 2 inches. The smaller onions, I cut a little longer, just to give them a bit more of a chance to regrow, if at all.

Here is a picture of one of the short root stubs, back in the pot. I'm really curious to see if they will grow again. If not, I'll go back to replanting 2-inch root ends.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dealing With Bunnies

I used to think that bunnies were cute. What normal person doesn't? They are small, furry, cuddly (looking), and they hop. Cute, right? Well... I started growing vegetables, and I changed my mind about the whole cute business.

We have a six foot tall board-on-board fence all around the backyard for our two dogs, so I didn't think we had to worry about any wild animals trespassing on our yard (did I mention that I'm a city girl, generally unfamiliar with the digging abilities of small animals?). We also put up a plastic fence around the garden area to keep the dogs out, so I thought the garden crops were fairly well protected. But it wasn't long before the damages started. First the lettuce and spinach got chewed up. Then the pea seedlings disappeared overnight. The bean seedlings also suffered. It was driving me crazy!

Then Keith emailed me this picture one day:

It (and all its family/friends) chewed through the plastic fence, after wiggling its way under the outside fence! Having no sympathy for the bunny (as cute as it was) that had been chewing on my babies (vegetables), I was happy (more like overjoyed) when Keith told me that Sienna went after the bunny. Look what Sienna did for us:

Let's just say, that was not a good day for this bunny.

Unfortunately, this bunny must have come from a big family, because the damages to the crops didn't stop. They just kept getting worse. Over the course of about a month, Sienna caught four bunnies, but she wasn't a 24/7 bunny hunter, and the bunnies just kept coming back. I wanted to put up a stronger chicken-wire type of fence, but Keith had other ideas, and I ended up with this:

The right-most box suffered some damage when the box accidentally got dropped while being moved. I'm told that the boxes were verrrrrrry heavy (one of the few benefits of being a long-distance gardener is that I'm not always around to partake in the heavy lifting - literally this time - when something needs to be done). We'll have to repair it at the end of this season.

So far, the remaining crops that survived the initial bunny attacks are doing okay in the elevated boxes. I just don't have as many plants left as I would like, but hopefully I can plant more fall crops.

Have you had any problems with bunnies, and how did you deal with them?

Friday, June 25, 2010

My Garden Crops

My garden started out as a full house. A house full of seeds, that is. Couple of months ago, I went seed shopping and picked out a bunch of seed packets that promised to grow into yummy looking veggies. I came home with two handfuls of seeds, and went all out planting them. All of them. Without regard for proper planting times.


The good news is that some of them are now growing. Fairly well, I might even add.
Look, zucchini is flowering! One of the female flowers got pollinated (I hope) and it looks like I might get a zucchini out of it (see picture). The other one (not shown) seems to have died a quiet, shriveling death. The rest of them are all male flowers. I need some girl flowers, quick!

The green beans are flowering as well, and growing teeny bean pods. Before I started my vegetable garden, I would have never thought that a few one-inch green beans could make me so happy. But they do! Very much so. I've been staring at them for longer than I'm willing to admit. Multiples times already this morning (I secretly believe that lots of visual attention aid their development.).

Cucumber is flowering, too, but no sign of any baby cucumbers yet. Maybe I'm not staring at it long enough?

Sadly, it's not all good news in the garden family, and some didn't quite make it. Sugar snap peas fought against the rising temperature, but did not survive multiple attacks from the local clan of wild rabbits. Same story for lettuce, spinach, and arugula.

The rest of the crops seem to be in some sort of a trial period where they are still deciding whether they want to stay put and grow, or give up and die. Carrots, peppers, onions, and chives are in this camp. Ugh.

I'm also growing some herbs that are growing and flowering out of control. I gave up on trying to corral them. I'm not sure what happens to them once they flower. Questions for the experts out there: what do I do with the perennial herbs (oregano and thyme) after they bolt? Can I leave them alone and they will just keep on growing after the flowers turn to seed? With the annuals (cilantro and basil), I assume that once they bolt, their harvesting season is over and they will just die. And what about parsley? Here is a picture of my flowering herbs:

cilantro - white flowers; parsley - yellow flowers; oregano - purple flowers

Whatever their future holds, at least the bees seem to love them right now. Next time, I think I will grow all my herbs in containers, which will hopefully control their growth better. I'm already doing that with my basil, and they are doing pretty well, except for some mystery holes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Is my basil turning into swiss cheese?

Last year, my potted basil died a long slow death due to "mystery fly things." Since then, I learned that those flies were most likely fungus gnats. I tried all kinds of organic repellents like cayenne and soapy water, but these flies seemed impervious to everything and kept coming back. I finally gave up on the sickly basil.

This year, my basil has been doing much better with healthy, bushy leaves.

Last week, I harvested about 4 oz of basil and made tasty pesto that promptly got turned into neat little frozen cubes for future consumption.

I thought everything was going really well, and looked forward to the basil plants growing back bushier. But today, I discovered some leaves that were turning "holey" like swiss cheese. I didn't see any bugs around my basil plants, so I'm at a loss as to what is doing this to my basil. Is it some kind of bugs? Or could birds be doing this damage?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

First Garden Post (How It All Started)

After spending many nights poring over different vegetable gardening blogs, I came to this conclusion that I wanted a blog of my own to chronicle my gardening progress this year.

I have been a city girl all my life and never learned to garden before. Some people grow up with gardening parents, grandparents, or even relatives who live out in the "country" (where they surely garden) whom they visit every summer. Not me. I spent my whole life living in apartments or houses with tiny backyards in urban settings. The closest I ever got to vegetable gardening was going to the local farmer's market (I know, not really the same thing). So I really had zero exposure to actual gardening.

Then sometime last year, I got this idea in my head that I wanted to try growing my own herbs (training-vegetables?), and mentioned it to my boyfriend.  Keith, being the good man that he is, totally surprised me with my first herb growing setup for my birthday.  I didn't really know what I was doing with watering, transplanting and growing, but some of the herbs actually survived and became edible. Now I was inspired, and ready to move on to "real" vegetables.

This year, I found out about square foot gardening while researching backyard vegetable gardening. So we (and by we, I mean Keith) built three 4' x 4' boxes and set out about planting.

Three Square Foot Gardening beds on May 2, 2010

With great newbie enthusiasm, I quickly planted lettuce, spinach, onions, carrots, peas, green beans, squash, cucumbers, and a few others. As I continued my research about vegetable gardening, though, it wasn't long before I realized that planning should actually take longer than planting. I learned that lettuce, spinach, and peas like cool weather, but OH NO, I already planted them and the hot summer was fast approaching. Wait, just how big does a squash plant get? And onions, what's this about about long and short day sets? Ack.

Then came the bunnies.


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