Monday, April 30, 2012

One World Trade Center

Spent some time in New York this week-end with my sister.  It was an honor to see One World Trade Center towering toward the beautiful blue sky while I was there.  I don't think I could have gotten a better shot of this majestic building if I had tried. 

I enjoyed the sights in the big city, the wonderful food and shopping.  I love to travel, but I was reminded that I'm a country girl at heart.  No matter how many times I board a plane, train, or the automobile I always think there's no place like home.  There was no space for a garden or for my grandchildren to run and play.  I switched my purse for a small bag that I could cross over my chest to ensure my purse wasn't snatched.  I don't concern myself with this issue when I'm at home in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The Manhattan and Queensborough bridges had nothing on the Shenandoah River that John Denver wrote about.  The lines were so long for various things that I decided it wasn't worth the wait for items.  The traffic was incredible, I had nightmares of yellow cabs running over me.  

No matter how much money I'm offered for a salary, I could never live in a place that has more asphalt than grass and more people than cars.  Trading in my high heels for Wellies was so worth it.  There's no place like home, there's no place like home.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hardening Off My Veggies

Finally set out a few of my plants today for a few hours. Everything is looking good with the exception of the tomatoes.  I have a few that are hanging on for dear life.  I lost 3 Cherokee Purple, but started a few more last week.  They've sprouted and doing well.  Hopefully I will have better luck with these.     

My peppers are doing great.  I have 20 cayenne, Hungarian wax, chili, and jalapeno that look healthy and are ready to go.  Two sweet minis are finally taking off.  I will definitely have to start those earlier next year.  I didn't realize how slow they are to grow.  When the packet states to start them in February that's what they mean!

Here's a few of my tomato plants, a beefsteak and Hillbilly.   I have a few others that are doing well, but others are struggling to make it.  Not sure what has happened with the tomatoes, as I provided the same care and maintenance for all of them.  Next year, I will plant far more that I need to ensure that I don't have to start over.  I'm sure somebody at the office will take the extra off my hands.  I still have a few weeks to see how they progress.  I won't put my garden in until the end of May and may stagger the planting through mid-June.  We've gotten frost in these parts in the middle of May.  So my philosophy is, when it's warm enough to swim it's warm enough to put the garden in. 

The squash, zucchini, watermelon and pumpkins are doing great.  I need to get them in the ground soon.  My guest room is starting to look like a jungle.  I've had to move most of them out of the pots and into these Hefty cups.  Thanks to Granny at Annie's Kitchen Garden, I used her idea of punching holes in the bottom of the cups with a glue gun.  We drink out of these cups regularly because Mama don't have time to be washing dishes all day, so we have plenty of plastic cups around.  The hot glue gun works wonderfully for the holes, and they're nice and deep and strong.  Perfect for the plants once they take off.   

This was my first year starting seedlings.  I have to say,  I really had a great experience.  I'm learning bunches visiting your blogs and taking a tip here and there.   Next year, I'll start the peppers and tomatoes a little earlier and the squash and zuchinni a little later.  I need to invest in another 4 foot grow light, other than that I'm getting the hang of things.  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Cherokee Purple Near Death?

My Cherokee Purple plants aren't looking good.  All three of them are losing or have lost their leaves.  The rest of the seedlings are striving.  They are full, lush and happy.  Oh what to do.   I've researched, but can't find anything on why tomato seedlings lose their leaves.   I started 5 - 6 different varieties and I'm not having a problem with any of the other plants. 

The peppers, squash, zucchinni, pumpkins and watermelon are all doing great.  I gave them all a nice dose of fish emulsion and lowered the grow lights on the Cherokee Purple again.  I'm hoping this will help, but I would like to get to the root of the problem.  No pun intended, lol. 

Does anyone know what the problem could be?  My taste buds are set on Cherokee Purple this year, so I'm working hard to save them.  Any suggestions would be appreciated. 

On the other hand, my Dogwood is in full bloom and just beautiful.   I had a white one several years ago, but lost it.  It was close to one of my down spouts when I planted it.  I think it was getting too much water.  I love this tree so much, I've decided to replace the white one this fall.  This time I will plant it in the side yard, hopefully it will survive. 

Spring makes me happy.  Everything is awaking and turning green, that is except my Cherokee Purple seedlings.  How's everything going with your gardening plants?  

Square Watermelons

I have been fighting with blogger this morning trying to write this post.  I hate hate hate the new blogger option.  I was so happy that I could temporarily revert back to the old format so I could communicate with you.  I hope they work the bugs out before they make the change permanent.  I don't understand why people make changes when they have a good thing that works, and the users know how to use the product.  So much for my ranting this afternoon. 

How cool is this picture.  Square watermelons are really popular in Japan and are making their way to the US.  I'm thinking about trying this with a few of my Sugar Baby watermelon plants.   I've been researching to see how I can turn a round melon into an ice cold delicious square treat, and it seems the way to go with Sugar Babies is a cinder block.   Once the melon has matured, you use a sledge hammer to break the block.  Not thrilled about having to break block, but I could easily get my hands on a few cinder blocks and call in man power to retrieve the treat. 

I'm thinking that square melons would make a nice center piece at a family gathering this summer.  I'm sure that I could get my grandson to eat a square watermelon too, lol.  The other way of  squaring the melon requires Plexiglass squares or a wooden box that I would need to put together.   You have to make a hole for the vine and than rig it to get the melon out.  We have several plastic companies in the area, so I'll check next week to see if Plexiglass squares are available.   I may find that building the squares are too much work this year.  I need to put together trellis' and we still need to start the fencing project.  

Have any of you grown square watermelons?  If so, what method do you use?  I'm thinking the concept would work for pumpkins and cantaloupes too. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

2012 Vegetable Garden Plan

The garden is tilled and I've been working on my layout.  Here's the tentative plan.  My garden is actually 25 x 25.  The scale is about 22 x 22.  I left room for the fence and 3 feet along the sides. 

I had wanted to add room for carrots, but thinking I may try them in a container.  I'll also plant the marigolds between the tomatoes instead of in front of them as shown.  The opening in the lower right corner will be a gate.  Of course this could all change once I start planting.  I'm going to use a trellis for the watermelon, pumpkins, squash, zucchini and cukes to free up space.    The pole beans will be planted in a circle that I will install using field stone, so it won't be exactly square as shown.  Using a circle will allow me to plant more beans too. 

I'm hoping to make and place a scarecrow in the middle of the garden.  My grandson loved the scarecrow last year, although it scared the crap out of me on occasion.  I kept forgetting it was there, and thought someone was in the garden when I stepped out my deck, lol. 

Has anyone planted garlic in the spring?  My package says that I can plant it up to April 15.  I know most people plant in the fall for summer harvest.  I allocated space, but may plant my carrots there if I find planting the garlic now is not a good idea.  Garlic masters, I need your advice.  Let me know what you think about my layout, and if I should change anything or at least consider something.  Do you have your garden planned?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Garden's Tilled

I'll finally seeing some growth with my veggie plants.  I've transplanted quite a few and so far they're all doing great.  The exception is sweet peppers.  I only had two germinate, and they are struggling.  Not sure what the problem is with these little darlings, but I was successful and have transplanted many into bigger pots.   I kept a lot of my veggie/flower pots over the years. They have finally come in handy.  Here's a list of what I've transplanted so far:

3 Squash
5 Zucchini  (Hopefully, I can give a few of these away)
3 Cayenne
3 Chili
1 Hungarian Wax
2 Jalapeno
3 Cherokee Purple
2 Box Car Willie
1 Hillbilly
2 German Johnson
2 Kaki Coing
1 Crimson Watermelon
3 Sugar Baby Watermelon
2 Pumpkin

I saved my drinking cups for some of the plants and glad I did.  I had a few that were leggy, and wanted to plant them deep.  I used one of my hot glue guns to punch holes in the bottom of the cups.  It worked great. 

I have several flats that contain Brandy Wine, Paul Robeson and more hot peppers.  They have germinated, so I'm hoping to transplant them in the next week. I'll be adding Romas, green beans, and red onions to the garden as well. 

We finally got the garden tilled today.  We didn't make it as large as I wanted.  I ended up with a 25 x 25 instead of the 25 x 30 that I was hoping for.  We'll see how it works out.  The dirt is so fluffy.  It's like powder.  I'm hoping that I will not have to do much amending.  I'll have a soil analysis done later in the week.  Last year, I only added a light fertilizer.  I'm hoping that my compost that has been cooking for the past year will be enough this season. 

I need to figure out how I'm going to cage my tomatoes.  How do you cage your Heirlooms?  I may follow your lead. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I'm Seeing Green

The tomatoes aren't doing as well as I like, but I'm still seeing lots of green.  I have plenty of zucchini that has come through, but only 1 squash has sprouted.  I started a few more last night in hopes that I can at least plant 4 of each in the garden.   I decided to build 4 x 4 trellis' this year for the squash, zucchini and cukes.  They produce delicious veggies, but they take too much room in the garden.   I have several ideas for the trellis, so stay tuned for future posts. 

In my last post, I mentioned trying to start dill for my pickles.  I have 2 sprouts.  I started six, hopefully the others will germinate.  

The chili and cayenne peppers are doing great.  I have 12 that have sprouted.  I'm hoping for 16 chili, cayenne, Hungarian, and jalapeno. 

I've started several varieties of mixed sunflowers in newspaper pots and Mexican sunflowers in the peat pots below.  I love the orange color of the Mexican sunflowers.  I hope they germinate, I want to plant them behind my tomato plants.   

Making Newspaper Pots

Have you tried making newspaper pots?  I watched several videos on Youtube that I just found too complicated, but I found another that was right down my line.   I love Patty Moreno, The Garden Girl.  She has great tips on vertical gardening, making raised bed etc.  She also had a great video on how to make newspaper pots.  I've modified a little, but here it goes:

In the above picture, I'm using a 1/4 sheet of newspaper folded in half.  You will want to fold it across not length wise.  Next,  I used a pint size canning jar, leaving about a 1/4 of the mouth of the jar out of the newspaper and roll the jar until all of the newspaper is used.  Using biodegradable tape, tape the ends of the newspaper together.   If you don't have biodegradable tape, you can remove it from the newspaper later and toss the newspaper in the compost bin, which is what I plan to do.  I actually used scotch tape, but duct tape will work too. 

Turn the jar upside down on the opening of the jar.  Fold the bottom of the newspaper as if you're wrapping Christmas gift.  Tape the folds down.  

Remove the jar from the newspaper, and you have a great newspaper pot.  You can adjust the opening of the pot to the height you would like by just folding the top inward.  Fill with seed starter or potting soil and you're ready to go.  The newspaper will absorb water just like a peat pot.  I used the newspaper pots to try to start my sunflower seeds.  So far, so good.