31 May 2009

tomato volunteers

In among the Lettuces under kitchen window I've found half a dozen young plants that look like Tomatoes. They've come up at the same time, and have very similar shaped leaves as the ones I planted in other bed. Just not sure how tomatoes would have gotten over there- did someone drop a cherry tomato last season? did a bird spread the seed? I've put them all in small pots amongst the herb pots. to watch them grow bigger and then fit them into my tomato beds.

Indoors, the Cantaloupe and Broccoli seedlings are beginning to show true leaves. The Chard, although it came up faster, still just has seedling leaves, shot tall. Out of all the Beets I planted inside, only four grew. Outside, almost all of them grew. I think next year I'll just direct sow them, making sure to soak first.

30 May 2009

new plants

I acquired a few plants from someone on craigslist who was dividing hers- some low-growing and tall phlox. I put the tall one in the back near compost pile, it's already recovering. The low one in the front flower bed, spread out just behind the remnants of bluebells.

The Peas are beginning to flower.

Two of the row of moved Marigolds edging the small back patio I found completely fallen over, eaten through at the base of the stem. It almost looked like someone had trampled on them- but no crushed leaves. I puzzled, and then in one of my gardening books found the answer- caterpillars called cutworms. As suggested, cultivated the soil w/fork tines (but found no curled worms) and wrapped them stems w/tin foil collar, above and below ground. The next morning, no more felled plants.

29 May 2009

garden events

Torrents of rain today, then bouts of sunshine. It's starting to get humid. Another Cantaloupe seedling sprouting indoors. Yesterday daughter found a tiny itty bitty preying mantis in the garden! We were thrilled. It was only as long as my pinkie fingernail is wide, and thin as a pencil lead. Very quick, too. Today I only manage to do a quick slug patrol- picking them out of their hiding spots. I haven't been able to put beer out for several days because the rain just washes it out, so the slugs have been getting a bit ahead of me again. I added young Chard leaves to our salad. It's got a buttery flavor, and so much nicer looking than the poor beaten S Lettuce. The light, frilly lettuce is my favorite, with its almost sweet flavor, but apparently the slugs like it best, too.

Salad leaves being washed- three kinds of Lettuce and Chard.

27 May 2009


I wasn't going to actually go out into the garden today, until I looked at the weather and realized this will be the clearest day all week- it's overcast, but not raining. Started by checking the young plants, picking off slugs, brushing splashed dirt off the cloches so they can get light again. All but one Sunflor and most of the G Beans and the Pumpkins big enough now to not need them- so I collected them all up.

Then got totally disgusted that my indoor seedling cardboard pots are growing white mold- and decided to impulsively plant the larger ones outside. The sprouted G Beans all went out- and Peas, in the spot that was meant for Spinach which never grew. I dug up and moved a few Marigold seedlings so they make a neat row, and dug up and moved some Broccoli plants so they're spaced out well. Did the same with the Cukes- in a few places two were growing close together- and surprised to find I actually have seven cucumber plants. So we might get a good lot of cucumbers after all. Then I covered all those vulnerable plants used up every last cloche- so waiting to put out the Chard and Broccoli seedlings- even thought the Broccoli has the worst mold case. Noticed that the Beet seeds I planted in gaps in the rows are sprouting! Hopefully they won't get eaten by bugs. It was only after all done as I was brushing the mud off my hands onto wet grass, and looking at all the green things growing with some satisfaction, that I realized not only had I put out those seedlings a bit young- some of the G Beans don't have their first true leaves yet- but I forgot to harden them off. Well, I know they'll keep damp enough first with all the rain, and they've been in the mudroom windowsills without heat, so that along with the protection of the cloches hopefully they'll be okay. I'm happy to have them out there, though.

indoor seedlings


The indoor planting is going well. Every section of the egg carton has several Chard seedlings, getting taller every day (though I try to keep the light source close to them). I'm pretty sure I only put one seed in each section- do they sprout multiples, like Radish? I only have a few Radish seedlings so far, and two Canteloupe. But almost all the Peas and G Beans have come up, and only lost two Broccoli. One seed didn't germinate,and another seedling keeled over. I'm carefully watering with the camomile tea infusion the gardening tip book suggested will keep damp spot at bay. The tiny plastic greenhouse also has many small Basil plants sprouting.



Green Bean and two Peas

Outside we just had two days of torrential rain, drizzle and showers since then. Supposed to rain steady all week. I haven't been able to put beer out- it just gets diluted and washed away by the rain- but went out last night to pick some slugs off the plants. Not as many still, but fatter ones! Mom said it might be small soil-hiding caterpillar/worms eating my G Bean seedlings, where I thought it was the ants. But when I went out last night w/flashlight, I found slugs again. So maybe it's them after all? The Peas outside have grown a lot over the past few days of rain, the Pumpkins are growing fast, and the Sunflower leaves (of the older plants) are getting enormous. I feel like those plants double in size every time I look at them! We're eating tons of Lettuce in salads every other day now, too.

24 May 2009


Surprised and very happy that the seeds planted indoors in my improvised trays are all beginning to sprout! Almost all the Broccoli and Chard seedlings have come up, some Basil, two Snap Peas, one Green Bean and one Radish. I was not expecting to see any so soon. This method really works!

Outside there are many more G Bean plants poking out of the soil- ten total, now. I might have to plant the indoor seedlings in a different spot. The Pumpkin seedlings are growing very fast. The Lettuce is getting nice and robust now, that the slugs are under control. I haven't found more than a few the last few times.

22 May 2009


The slug and pill bug population seems to be under control now- I get a good amount of them in the beer traps each night, and since the slugs are attracted to the beer odor, those that don't drown in it, hide under the dishes before dawn- so I get them all at once. Hardly find any slugs under boards any more. But something is still eating the young G Bean and Cuke plants- even when they're covered. I think it's ants- that's all I find crawling around there and drowned in the beer. So read up on ant repellant and dug coffee grounds into the soil around them, then sprinkled a ring of cinnamon mixed w/red pepper powder and ground cloves. Watched the crawling ants approach the ring and turn right around.

Thrilled to find Cherry Tomato seedlings poking up out of the ground! Cleared the weeds from that plot, and sprinkled some ant-repellant mixture around them, just in case (although nothing seems to be bothering the other Tomato seedlings).

20 May 2009

plant stuff

Thrilled today to find the Pumpkin seedlings coming up, and half a dozen Green Beans! I should have been more patient. I quickly covered them all with plastic bottle cloches for the night. Even though the G Beans came up, I still planted the soaked seeds in indoor trays to start- also Beets, Chard, Canteloupe, snap Peas and Broccoli. Outside put a few seeds in gaps in the rows- of Chard and Beets. Planted in pots along the porch more Nasturtiums and some herbs: Chives, Rosemary, Thyme, Mint (again) and Oregano. Basil planted in tiny six-pot greenhouse found at the goodwill for seventy cents.

The Radishes have shot tall, and are now making flowers, without getting round. I wonder what I did wrong- the soil's often damp there, is it too wet? or wrong composition? I'll have to figure it out.


Green Bean


18 May 2009


Turned the pile today. Bottom of it all dark and steaming, top was heaps of grass clippings, bush trimmings and weeds, still green. Mixed it all up nicely. Got loads of slugs in the beer traps- so many that when we went around to check under the boards only found two! The second Sunflor seedlings are getting bigger- some enough to take the cloches off and sprinkle crushed eggshells around them. Nasturtium seedlings are poking out from the mulch, and the Potato plants are growing- one much taller than the rest. Peas are climbing their stick supports.

17 May 2009


The corn is sprouting! And getting chewed on. Cleared away all the leaf litter and helicopter seeds around there and put out more slug beer- fresh, undiluted this time. Already as I went in for the evening saw many slugs crawling into it. The slug patrol seems to be working; every morning and evening kid and I check for slugs on the plants and under boards, and drown them. Few days ago we picked two to five slugs off almost every lettuce head; today only one or two off every other head. Numbers seem to be falling.

15 May 2009

garden chores

More work today. First rescued some more Sunflor seedlings- a few of the second planting two came up in the same spot, so I separated them, put one in a blank spot of the row, and covered with cloches. Others that are a big larger now and getting their first true leaves took the cloches off and tried a new preventative trick- a ring of sandpaper around the base, and Fennel sprinkled about. Heard that slugs don't like fennel.

Next the kiddo helped me check under boards for slugs and pillbugs. Found a couple fat slugs- squished 'em. Then we checked out the long beds- after I looked up online what the seedlings look like when they first push out of the ground. Tomato seedlings are sprouting! And the Cucumbers- getting eaten immediately. No sign of Green Beans- but when I was working to put bricks in (more about that) found a bean seedling leaf in the soil- riddled with holes. I see small black ants everywhere there, but few slugs. Are the ants eating my seedlings? I think I'm going to try one more time, and start the plants indoors. Covered the few we found with cloches.

Then put up branchy twigs from the brush I cleared the other day to support the growing Snap Peas. Weeded their bed, too. The Garlic wall along back edge of all the long beds is coming up strong.

Next tackled the brick project. My paths made between the beds keep getting messy when it rains- the wooden edges simply float, and the bark shreds I'd put down go all over the place. I started raking them all out again (filling back in that gap by the small patio- hopefully to plant more marigolds or something there). Then found someone on craigslist was tearing up a patio and getting rid of the bricks. Yesterday I made two trips in the car to get bricks, stacked them all at the bottom of driveway, worn out for the day. Today shifted all the bricks over to the beds- in rougly equal piles at the end of each path/row. Pulled out the boards and recut the edge with straight shovel, then laid row of bricks in to make the edge. It's tedious work, but looks so much nicer, and it will stay in place! After I've got all the bricks down (I know I'm not doing it properly with sand and all underneath, but just want something to mark my path decently) I'm going to put a layer of gravel on the paths themselves- to keep out the weeds, make it easy to tell what to step on, and have something that will be relatively dry to walk on after heavy rains, not the soggy muck I get between the beds now. Phew! I'm guessing I can brick-edge two paths a day, and be done in a week.

The porch flowers are filling out nicely.

And I bought some Hostas the other day. Put them on the ends of front flower beds.

At the end of day, when cool again, pulling weeds and clearing litter from the walled bed. Isa discovered slugs- minute ones- all in the Lettuce leaves, and together we handpicked at least forty or fifty off of them. I moved on to inspect the Chard, Beets for slugs, then came back and immediately found one or two more slugs on each lettuce plant again- I had no idea there were so many!

I did manage to save some Cucumber seedlings- put cloches over spots where other seedlings had come up and got chomped, and went back end of day to check- another one had sprouted up next to the chomped one. Then remembered I'd planted two or three in small groups. Glad I did.


Yesterday we ate our first harvest- Lettuce! I thought some Radishes would be ready, too- but the roots are just barely beginning to swell. The plants are getting fairly big and tall, much larger than I remember last years' (but that was a different variety). We ate in our salad mostly romaine leaves, with a little bit of simpson lettuce and some from one bibb lettuce that came up by itself. The romaine was a tad bitter, but perfect with carrot shreds and sesame ginger dressing.

The war with slugs continues. Got some in beer near the Peas today. Inspected the other long beds- it looks like the Peppers and Tomatoes are coming up; so far slugs don't seem to be coming at them but I'm not going to take any chances, and put cloches over them. The second set of Sunflor seedlings is almost ready to be uncovered, anyways. Found that the Cantelope seedlings are coming up- and eaten right down to the ground. Must be the slugs, so I'm going to cover those areas too (as well as I can remember where the seeds were planted!) and put out beer in that section tonight. I've been reading up more on slug control- a collar of drinking straw, or sandpaper, can keep them off the larger seedlings, and they don't like Fennel! So maybe if I cut some fennel and scatter that around the seedlings, they'll stay away.

13 May 2009


I've heard that Fennel attracts butterflies, so I moved a plant that always got mowed over, into the garden next to another one. They're on the outer back edge. Growing strong. But I just read on another gardening blog that fennel is invasive- so it's better to have in a pot. When I walk over to the spot where I dug up the second plant, there are small fuzzy plants all over the place. Now I'm thinking I shouldn't have moved that plant, and I ought to dig them both up and put in pots, instead.


Fed the Beets today. Mulched the baby Carrots with saved coffee grounds. Got a handful of pill bugs and half dozen slugs in the beer. Need to set beer out by the Peas- getting eaten. Even though they're supposed to be self-supporting peas, they fall over and have tendrils reaching for support- so I'm considering putting up poles for them.

12 May 2009


Weeding and planting today. Put in Marigolds all along edges where I could, found a spot to plant Pumpkins, replanted the Green Bean patch, and put in the remaining seeds of Delphiniums and last of Cabbage seeds leftover from last year. I don't know if they'll grow, being last years' seeds, but I remember those plants being very robust.

Isa and I waged war against the slugs; I turned over the boards laid across dividing sections of the walled bed (lettuces from chard from carrots from beets, etc) and scraped off/picked up all the pill bugs and slugs hiding underneath. Got dozens and dozens of pill bugs and at least ten small slugs and one larger fat one. Set out beer again hopefully to drown some more.

The Basil that had overwintered and I planted behind garlics? I thought it was dead but one of the stems is growing new leaves! And the Cilantro is coming up, and the Lettuces are almost large enough to eat the thinnings. Some plants are sprouting which I think are the Hot Peppers. The second planting of Sunflor seedlings are getting large under their little cloches, soon I'll uncover them and sprinkle crushed eggshells around like before.

Photos top to bottom: Romaine lettuce among garlics, Romaine and Simpson lettuce, Pepper(?) seedlings, Cilantro seedlings, the tallest Potato plant.

11 May 2009


Double measures last night- doused all the plants in soapy dishwater and put out beer- in six different spots. All but one of the dishes caught slugs- about a dozen, total. And some pill bugs. I'm thinking now the slugs are the main culprits. My Sunflor seedlings under the cloches are still fine. And I think I see the first Basil seedling poking out of the ground, but not sure.

10 May 2009


I gathered up all the grass clipping mulch had put down between the rows of lettuce, chard and broccoli and there were all the bugs underneath. Cleared it away from the new Sunflower seedlings too, and recovered them. I think I only saved three of them -sigh-.

08 May 2009


I'm feeling discouraged about the garden. Some things are going well- the garlics are incredibly healthy, the potatoes are coming up strong, there's lots of lettuce under kitchen window. But the winter mulch I was so pleased at keeping soil moist and fed overwinter- also kept gazillions of pill bugs around. Now they're eating my Sunflower seedlings I just set out, and chomping on the lettuce. Beer put out catches many, but when it rains ineffective. Beet seedlings are diminishing, Broccoli almost gone, Chard getting eaten. The bug repellents I've read of in helpful books are for cole crops and not specifically pill bugs. I had put grass clippings around the cloches to keep from being splahsed mud on but guess who came to stay- pill bugs. Now I know two strategies for next year- plant a wall of garlic, and grow the seedlings indoors until big enough to withstand. But for now how to salvage my garden?

We weeded today, cut tall grass on the edges, and planted some flower seeds in the front yard- delphiniums and petunias. Also I dug up many of those green leafed rhizomes that make tall, orange day lilies- and moved to corner side of house and driveway, where it's all been just weeds for so long. It looks better already.

06 May 2009


Planted more today. Watermelon and Corn in the new space, then these to fill in gaps in the other areas: Radish, Simpson Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Chard, Broccoli, Sweet Peas, snap Peas, and Thyme (around the Potatoes).

Corn- Sweet Early Sunglow (7-14 days)
Watermelon- Bush Sugar icebox size (7-10 days)

Looking at how healthy and untouched the romaine among garlics is, and how eaten everything I plant in the long bed is, I broke open a head of garlic from the fridge and planted a line of cloves against the fence. Hoping it will deter more bugs.

05 May 2009


Took advantage of this morning's respite from rain (it poured again this afternoon) to work in garden, even though soil muddy. The book I read that said sprout Sunflower seeds between damp towels recommended that because said they won't all grow. I thought that meant at least forty percent wouldn't sprout. But almost all of mine did- only three seeds didn't. Planted them all today- filled in the gaps on fence, and three in the back plot w/stone wall (all weeds last year). I pushed a little hole in the dirt w/stick, placed each seed in w/its sprout up, sprinkled potting soil lightly over it, then a little bit of grass clippings, then covered with a plastic cloche and piled more grass clippings around. The grass is more to distract pill bugs and keep dirt from splashing up on the sides- I like to be able to see the little seedlings in their plastic houses thru the sides. Hopefully keeping them covered from the very beginning will let them grow a lot stronger, protected from the bugs.

In the bare rock-wall plot I pulled weeds- easy to do since it was still covered w/last year's leaf mulch- not very many and loosely rooted- then raked the leaves off, yanked out the tree seedlings, trimmed back branches from the trees that have grown up against the fence (not sure what to do with them still- they offer a screen from the neighbors but are growing so close to fence get trunks and branches squeezed into the wire) to let in some light, and turned the soil over. The acrid smell of the heavy clay reminded me of when I first turned over the walled plot when we'd just moved in. I've top mulched mostly since then, so this was the first big digging job of the year. Then I raked the dirt smooth and made three heaps of compost. Left it for today- the birds and squirrels will pick through the piles I made (already I saw them at it) looking for what I've left there, and finding nothing today hopefully leave it alone when I put the seeds in, tomorrow or the next day (that's what I did last year w/the zucchini seeds, and it fooled them). Going to put corn and watermelons in there. Not sure if the melon is as compatible w/corn as squash, but going to try.

Last thing I did before it rained on us was pull weeds along the space under living room widow, against the house and side of driveway. No purslane came up this year- I wonder why. Layered it w/newspapers and compost. Used up all the bottom of the pile- already full of new materials- so I couldn't do the whole plot that way. The second half of it just turned the dirt over and chopped out the weed roots. Then we sprinkled it with Marigolds- most of them seeds last year's plants made, some the ends of packets. I still have one packet to plant in gaps in the garden.

This method of newspaper/mulch layering worked well under the kitchen window- last year that was always full of weeds, no matter how much I pulled them up. Now only a few grow here and there, mostly on the edges, and easy to pull. It appears to be true what I read of garlic's protective properties- one half of that plot is garlics w/lettuce planted among them, the other side is just lettuce by itself. The lettuce alone has leaves of holes- and the S Lettuce chewed on most of all. The side full of garlic, all the R Lettuce is nice and healthy, untouched. Next year I'm planning to make a whole wall of garlic along back side of the garden plot, instead of a square patch on one end.

03 May 2009


Most of the Sunflower seeds in damp paper towel have sprouted! As soon as the rain lets up, going to plant them. Lettuce under kitchen window getting holes eaten in it. Put out beer and caught two fat slugs and some pill bugs. Tons of pill bugs near the Beets drowned in beer. Planted a second bed of Spinach between the Beets and Garlics. First set planted among onions and radishes didn't grow well.

01 May 2009

all wet

Rain. Checked on the garden. Glad I did- the three Cuke seedlings being eaten by slugs- one gone entirely. I found the tiny slugs hiding underside of leaves. Picked them all off and put water bottle cloches over the remains. Wonder now if all the rest of the seeds sprouted while we were gone and got eaten? If not, I can plant more. Two small Sunflowers came up, also being chewed on by slugs and pill bugs, although less so. Covered them, too. Have to put out beer next sunny day.

Put the rest of Sunflor seeds between damp paper towels on top of the fridge. Read in one of those gardening books that when they begin to germinate, you can plant only the ones that sprouted strongly, and thus have the best plants. I'll use them to fill in the gaps in the row.