October 13, 2011

Accidental fertilizer

Growing lettuce for the first time and it's doing really well. Only now it's coated in sawdust from pressure treated wood. Hmm. Wonder if that's problematic.

The small green stuff in front is my cover crop. (I think this bed is red crimson clover.) First time I've tried cover crops--it's nice to have some green around as everything else is turning brown.

August 10, 2011

Award winning

The snow white tomatoes were actually not too good to eat. In fact, after picking up my ribbons, I ate them while walking to my car. 

Loved the comments! 'Tis never too late to live life. Or be the freaky old lady entering the 4H fair with a bunch of 4 year olds. Same difference.

Health Kick VFFA Hybrid. Way more delicious and beautiful than I remember from 2010. Definitely going to plant more of these next year; they make a great salsa.

August 9, 2011

Teeny tiny tomatoes

The sweet pea currant tomatoes are about the size of raisins. They grow faster than one can pick them. Which is why I invited a friend over to do it for me.

After she had several hundred (pretty sure I'm not exaggerating) we let our girls make our dinner cook. Those tiny tomatoes go a long way when smothered in cheese and other nacho fixings. Mmm, good!

August 8, 2011

Look away!


(Salsa not properly canned, merely stored to be consumed over the next few days. Or hours. Whatever.)

August 6, 2011


When we returned from our 2 week vacation we had a few tomatoes ready to be picked. This isn't all of them; in the end we had about 30 lbs, not counting the half rotten ones I left throughout our yard as offerings to the tomatovores that live in the woods behind our house.

July 7, 2011

Fast food

Our first non-cherry tomatoes have arrived!

The label vanished for these but I know they are Glaciers due to their very unique leaves.

We carried two in for dinner. By the time we made it up the 10 stairs, we had one. My kid stuffed THE WHOLE THING in her mouth.

July 6, 2011

It begins

Tonight my kid made (and ate!) mini-pizzas using tomatoes and basil from our garden. Thanks, Michelle Obama for convincing my kid that veggies are cool.

My kid and I had a long discussion tonight about why some people think tomatoes are a fruit and others say it's a vegetable. (I remember being obsessed with the same topic in 5th grade. Kids today just grow up so fast.)

Jalapenos are coming in by the handfull. The tomatoes are slowly but surely joining the party. I'm ready to salsa, so let's get moving, tomatoes!

We have some beets and turnips that look ready to pick. Not going to take the plunge until I've figured out how to prepare them.

Finally laid the two soaker hoses I bought and hooked them up to the handy automatic timer. I'll bet it's a lot easier to lay those hoses at the beginning of the season rather than trying to squeeze between 4 foot tall tomato plants.

July 1, 2011


Had to shell out $7 for tomatoes at the farmer's market this week. I've resisted buying any so far, knowing we have a backyard full of green ones on the verge. But who could resist an adorable four year old begging her mom for veggies? I only bought one pint, but then she ate half of it before we left the market, so I bought a second.

Soon after arriving home we found this:

They look even fancier on the vine with a few special effects.

Most are still green, but just as I predicted we should have a decent first harvest by July 4.

Per tradition, I planted everything entirely too close together and have already had to cull the herd. Some items were transplanted elsewhere and others were just thrown on the grown to wither as I silently screamed at myself for planting stupid things like turnips.

June 12, 2011

And we're off!

Out of town for 8 days, the temps shot to the upper 90s. I was sure I would come home to parched if not dead plants, but my husband came through for me and kept them watered. In the week I was gone, almost all of my plants doubled - if not tripled - in size. Some of the tomatoes are already completely unruly and required massive pruning to get them back inside their cages. (If they don't at least start out growing inside the cage, there's no hope for keeping them under control.)

I planted marigolds to keep away bunnies and bugs. I didn't really notice they were the kind that would get to be 3 feet tall, and shade the very plants I was trying to save. Had to uproot a bunch of them.

The zinnia are blooming. My daughter helped grow those from seed and is quite proud.

The tomato plants have flowers, and some even have tomatoes!!!

The beets and turnips are growing incredibly fast. It's fun to watch but makes me wonder what in the world I will do with them once they have reached full size, a question I'm now facing when I look at my purple basil.

The cilantro has been my only disappointment so far. I was hoping it would do a great job reseeding itself as it has done in the past, but no such luck.

The grow houses in the bathtubs have been shut down, and all operations have relocated outside. Let the countdown to deliciousness begin!

May 22, 2011


Dad was in town and pointed out my onions were flowering/going to seed and I needed to pick them.

Now what do I do with them exactly? I never actually expected the onion seeds I planted 9 months ago would amount to anything.

I think I'm supposed to cure them and store them in preparation for the apocalypse or something, but they don't seem large enough to make that worthwhile. I suppose I could eat them but I'm not even sure if I can just eat the white or the green too? This is a puzzler.

Stay tuned and I'll report back. (Most likely outcome: I forget about them until the fruit flies become so thick I investigate and find the onions' moldy remains.)

May 2, 2011

DONE. Well, with this part anyway.

(They are all even  lined up, the angles are just weird from above on the deck.)

Eventually grass will fill in (I did add seed), we'll make cute paths, or we'll just get some pigs to play in the mudhole. Not at the top of my to do list right now. If anything does grow, our lawn mower fits through the "aisles."

April 27, 2011


I spent TEN DOLLARS on this Disney growhouse for Marielle. In my defense, I didn't know it was $10, because Home Depot had it marked as $4, and I didn't see the receipt until later. She has been quite excited by it, but I guarantee will not be getting a new one next year. I'll probably just wash this guy out!

We grew Zinnias - for Z sharing week at school - using a different packet of seeds than the one that came with the kit. I didn't want pink and red and whatever Disney assigned me; I wanted purple. Marielle insists they will be pink, because Sleeping beauty is pink, but she didn't see the switcheroo I pulled.

Anyway, here is proof that Disney even give you overpriced-shitty dirt. The plant on the left (top) was grown with the soil disc thingie that came with this set. The one on the right (bottom) was grown with one of those Jiffy refill thingies that costs 25 cents. Everything else was exactly the same. The seed, the lighting, the watering, the day planted -- everything.

Sorry about the orientation of the photo. I was going to fix it but then I decided I wanted to take a nap instead.

After, part 1.



This is taking a very, very, very long time. Very. But I did move all that dirt PLUS the actual box by myself, which makes me feel like a total badass.

One down, one to go. (See that pesky little guy in the far left? He's moving too.) Luckily the second one is only 10" high, not 20", and doesn't have posts inside sticking another foot into the ground, so hopefully I can finish this project before August.

I'm already fantasizing about what else I can squeeze in there to make it look even better. A bench? A long, skinny raised bed or two? All of the above?

April 19, 2011

Much work remains to be done

Here's my new box.
Actually it doesn't look so bad; you almost can't tell it's not symmetrical. Pretty lined up with the fences too, but then you see the other problem. I've been digging out the old box (and soon his next-door neighbor too) to relocate them about 2 feet east but still haven't had enough daylight and strength to finish.
Today was spent driving to Spring Break camps, activities and playdates. (And then napping to recover.) So far I am unable to convince my four year old of the fun of doing things like relocating a half ton of dirt about 2 feet to the right. I am dying to get it done, but also know I can't really plant much for awhile, so I am trying to relax about the whole thing.

I envision eventually I can con someone into helping me make beautiful paths between the beds, but until then we're gonna stick with our current whatever-the-heck-grows-can-grow motif between the boxes. My only job is to make them wide enough to get a lawnmower through.

I'll be relocating the onions, which started as seeds last summer, went mostly dormant during winter and now are thriving. Looking into a lot of companion planting this year to maximize space. Planted several rows of carrot seeds today. I don't love carrots and don't even care if they end up edible, but I hear they're great for tomatoes. I can never remember which plants make the tomatoes taste better (basil?) and which keep away bugs (marigolds & carrots, I think) but I do know which ones are BFFs with tomatoes for whatever reason. And, for good reason, it's all about what's good for the tomatoes.

April 17, 2011

A farmer's work is never done

A few weeks ago our back fence blew over. I briefly considered not replacing it right away until my father reminded me bunnies et al would eat my vegetables. We had a new one 3 weeks later!

The new fence is shorter and lets in more light. (Let's say we wanted it that way, and not that we were too poor for another privacy fence. That's the ticket.) I'm hoping this means a little less shade in our backyard and more sun for our garden(s). We expanded our fence all the way to the property line, which opened up some space for another raised bed, right in the prime sunny spot of our yard!

Farmer Nacho helped me procure supplies, top soil, leaf gro, etc. from our favorite local garden center but was smart enough to flee town right after we unloaded it all. I went at the building alone in my garage, learning many lessons, most of all, I SHOULD HAVE TAKEN SHOP IN HIGH SCHOOL. Stupid other electives - what good are you to me now?

I had a couple of pieces of leftover wood I never got around to using last year. I recommend 10"x2"x8' for beds. (Yes, I probably did that in the wrong order. Figure it out.) You can make one long bed or do a nice 4'x4' bed too.

One piece of wood turned out to be warped pretty bad. Rather than stopping what I was doing and getting a new piece from Home Depot, I just though I could make it work. Due to this and many other misteps along the way, I've ended up with more of a 6.5'x4' bed that is slightly trapezoidal rather than the 8'x4' I had envisioned.

The frame is now in, but in order to leave enough room for a path, I had to put it pretty close to the old beds. This means I'm going to have to remove all the dirt from the other two beds and move them slightly, which I kind of needed to do anyway since the new fence shows just how crooked I put them in the first time.

The more I work, the more I realize needs to be done. I can't wait for the depressing part of the season to be over and the harvesting to begin!

April 16, 2011

Adoption Day Instructions

The Hectaro Lagrimoso grow houses were overflowing this week as our tomato plants took off. I needed to make room for more plants so I distributed many of  my precious tomato plants to good homes. (Peppers = slow & not ready yet.)

There are a million websites that will tell you how to plant tomatoes, like this one or this one. But for those who have better things to do, here's a short summary of what to do with my babies:

1. Don't put them outside yet. I swear, do NOT do it or I will forever ban you from my list of suitable homes. Wait until it's warm. No earlier than Mother's Day, but if you can wait until Memorial Day, even better. The plants will not grow any faster if you put them outside, and you might even stunt their growth. I relearn this lesson every year.

2. Keep seedlings in a sunny place like a windowsill, or next to a sliding glass door.They need as much sun as possible. (I keep grow lights on 14-16 hours/day!) When the stem starts to grow towards the sun, turn them around.

If it is an especially sunny, warm day, feel free to temporarily put them outside. I move mine to the deck. But you have to bring them back in at night!  Put them in partial shade the first few times they have go outside.

3. Water them, but not too much. Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings.

4. If your containers start to disintegrate or the plants just get too darn big for their peat pot, transplant into a larger container, but leave them indoors. If they get to be 10" tall and it's not yet warm enough, you'll have to transplant them into a larger pot (at least 4-6", but the bigger the better).

Curious what varieties you have? I actually remembered to label the plants this year, so you can look them up by using the search box here or find them elsewhere on the internet.

Go ahead and start preparing their outdoor homes. Turn the soil, add fertilizer if needed, buy and put out tomato cages and stakes, etc. (But do NOT put your plants out. I will mock you publicly if I catch you.) If you want to build some raised beds, now's the time. Each plant needs about a 3 foot x 3 foot space at minimum.

If you are growing in containers (pots), get the LARGEST pots you can find. Add all new potting soil because in such a tiny home they will need all the help they can get. I like Costco's Miracle Gro Moisture Mix. You don't have to water it quite as often, and at Costco you can get a huge bag for about $11.

You should definitely cage & stake plants in pots. Remember containers dry out fast and you will need to water almost every day, so make sure a hose can reach wherever you put your containers.

This concludes today's lesson. As we get closer to super-sunny-fun-time, I will provide more instructions for you to ignore.

April 15, 2011

He's back!

And I put him right to work.

Well, after we ate nachos of course.

April 10, 2011

What's a margarita without a nacho?

Remember when Farmer Nacho fled for Thailand, leaving me with sole custody of Hectaro Lagrimoso?

Well it's time for some serious garden prep, which is why Farmer Nacho is returning to the US!! (Or maybe it was for a wedding? Unclear, so let's go with TO BE MY BITCH  to provide 365 days worth of entertainment in one day.)

I have been assigned one day, which I am going to take to mean 24 hours rather than 9 am to 5 pm or something similarly inadequate. Many uppers have been obtained and will be used in an attempt to be awake for every one of those 1440 minutes.

My to-do list for him us is growing so long I fear it's reached the point where he will arrive, we'll read it over and say, "Let's sit down and think about what we want to do first." 24 hours later we will wake up hungover, half naked in a Korean spa, with our new RV in their parking lot, wondering what just happened.


Now is the time to pick your carrots and onions that grew through the winter, and start your lettuce, broccoli, kale, etc.

Or, if you're like me, you can just be lazy and spend all energy forcing yourself to wait another month (or more) until the REAL food can go in.

Seriously, I'm not wasting time on carrots. I want something that tastes amazing and cannot be bought for 20 cents a pound at every other store in America.

Gimme delicious tomatoes!! They are taking over my bathtubs and anxious for warm days ahead.

March 27, 2011

On the third day

Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed!

March 20, 2011

Ready, set, go!

It's time!! Well, probably not, but I couldn't contain myself any longer.

Rather than run to the garden center where I would be tempted to spend hundreds on things I don't need, I fired up the web. A quick click and 2 days later I was all set. Hundreds of seeds remain from last year's stash, so no need to buy more. Even though I really, really want to!

Things I did differently this year -
- Planted 1-2 seeds per pod rather than 4-5.
- Labeled them so I know what is what. Ground breaking stuff, right?
- Planted fewer varieties of tomatoes and only 2 peppers. I had a whole box of peppers last year and never ate 90% of them. This year we'll be doing herbs, tomatoes, jalapenos and giving the Jamaican Hot Chocolate pepper another go. (Mostly because we like to say "Jamacian Hot Chocolate.")

Even after filling 100 pods, I have tons of seeds left - especially from the tomatoes not making a return appearance in this year's garden. I'm just not a fan of the big beefsteaks. All I want is salsa, salsa, and more salsa!

If you would like any pepper or tomato seeds, leave me a comment or email me your mailing address. (mjp3md at gmail). If you're local and want some seedlings, let me know that too. Right now I've got 100 pods going so assuming all goes well, I'll have more than enough to go around.

February 28, 2011

Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

Dying to bust out the grow house supplies and get to work! Trying to resist just a little bit longer though so I don't again end up transplanting seedings three, four or five times before it's finally warm enough to move them outdoors.

Last year I resisted until March 7. This year I should be able to make it a little longer due to impending travel commitments. Stay tuned.