Gardening Diary: Pests

So, I think I’m just about done with planting. Yay! I still have a few plants leftover, but for the most part, the majority are planted, either in containers or in the ground. I feel very accomplished!

Onto the next issue! Pests!

Worms/caterpillars have been eating my rhubarb, blackberry and strawberry leaves like crazy! I don’t recall there being this big of a problem in past seasons, but maybe I’m just more observant this year.

I heard BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis) is a good pesticide that is approved for organic gardens. It is a naturally-occurring bacteria that targets specific worms/caterpillars and doesn’t harm other beneficial bugs or critters.

Right now, I’m picking off wormies by hand, which is so gross, but so far, I can handle it. I read that if you let the plant develop its own defenses, it’s a much stronger plant, so I’ve not applied any pesticides yet. I noticed that the strawberries are indeed growing more leaves to make up for the leaf loss. It makes sense, because in the wild, berries must fend for themselves, and they do alright.

Unfortunately though, there is one section of strawberries that are looking a bit small and anemic, but the others are healthy. The blackberries seem to be normal, although they are just at the flowering stage right now, but the leaves do not have that much damage. The rhubarb is having issues, but I think it’s due to having too little sun.

Now, a bigger problem will be my veggie garden. I already noticed a big ugly green worm crawling on the dirt yesterday, (probably trying to find its next meal,) and one more on a cabbage leaf this morning. DH’s poor watermelon plant looks like it’s been eaten pretty badly too. So, yes, I’m thinking BT might be the answer for my vegetables.

So far, the plants in containers are doing well, no sign of any leaf eaters!

I’ll be posting photos soon of the garden. It was a glorious weekend for weather. I can’t believe how hot it’s been and it isn’t even June yet. I’m hoping the heat keeps up so cucumbers, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes will flourish!

Very soon, my peas will be popping! I’m looking forward to pinching a few tendrils for my salad or soup! YUM!

Life is good here at my little farm! ha!

Garden Diary: My First Harvest

Harvested a few leaves of lettuce from my wonderful garden this morning, along with a stem of parsly and basil. Exciting!

I wasn’t sure if I was cutting it properly, using scissors, but I checked out this video from the Garden Fork and he suggests to cut the whole thing down to about an inch. I was just cutting a few outside leaves off. I’ll wait until they get a bit taller again and try his method. It reminds me of cutting grass!

Still waiting for the lettuce I planted from seed to grow up. All this gardening stuff is still new to me, so this season will be an ongoing experiment!

I know I’ll be pinching some pea tendrils/shoots from the garden soon, maybe even this weekend!

Anyway, I made a lovely lettuce sandwich with Mindful Mayo and slices of my homemade whole grain chia bread. It was fantastic! :) Life is good!

my first lettuce harvest, sandwich

My Gardening Diary: Overboard, Overwhelmed & Overloaded

I’m starting a gardening diary, mostly to keep a record for myself, so I can learn from my mistakes and achievements.

It’s exciting that this year our home garden has expanded, and I hope all our hard work will pay off into a wonderful harvest that will last into the cooler months.

One of the first lessons learned was when I went crazy-overboard buying veggie plants.

I bought a Groupon for $30 worth of plants for a cost of only $15.

Last Friday, I drove to McCue’s Gardening Center with a rough-draft of a shopping list for veggie plants. I knew I wanted tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, with maybe a few herbs thrown in.

I walked out with 3 flats of plants (eight 6-packs in each flat) which, after my $15 Groupon was applied, only cost about $33. Yes, a bargain, but problem was, I was so overwhelmed and excited to see so many different veggies, there was no forethought regarding how many plants were needed, in relation to the actual space for gardening!

In reality, 2 flats would have been plenty, especially since they allowed a mix-match of plants, as long as they were the same price! Next year, I will know better!

So, here are my veggies

  • Tomatoes: a full flat = 48 plants – thankfully, my dad took 4 for his home garden, but it still leaves me with 44.
  • Peppers, Sweet & Chili: 5 pks = 30 plants
  • Little Fingers Eggplant: 1 pk = 6
  • Pickling Cucumbers: 3 pks = 9 (only 3 to a pk)
  • Butternut Squash: 1 pk = 3 (only 3 to a pk)
  • Red Cabbage: 1 pk = 6
  • Brussels Sprouts: 1 pk = 6
  • Lettuce, Red: 2 pks = 12
  • Basil: 2 pks = 12
  • And a separate purchase for DH because he wanted to grow it — Sugar Baby Watermelon: 2 plants

Seriously, where am I going to put all of those plants!?

We planted some of the veggies this weekend. We had to dig up new beds, sifting soil by hand, digging & sifting compost out back. It was very time-consuming and a lot of work. I also planted some in containers: both lettuce plants, 2 brussels sprouts and 1 cabbage.

DH decided it would be better to pick up a yard/truckload of high quality compost/dirt; total cost only $15. A small price to pay to save time and effort for planting the rest.

I’ll keep planting more veggies in what’s left of the containers and the rest will have to wait until this weekend when we’ll have more time to dig out at least one more bed.

In the past, I was neglectful, but this season, I’ll be caring for my babies properly, with “food” and lots of water. It will certainly be a learning experiment, and I really hope that all the hard work will pay off. And just think, next year, most of heavy work will be done. We can re-use the beds and possibly even add wooden boards or cement blocks to make them officially “raised”

Life is good!

Picked My 1st Tomato

Yay, I picked my first “early girl” tomato this morning. It had turned red a couple of days ago but I kept it on the vine so it could ripen a little more.

We planted 4 tomato plants along with basil and oregano in a small garden. We also tried planting 4 organic sprouted potatoes and I’m curious to see what will become of them later this season!

first tomato from the garden this year

Tomato Patio Plant – Review

I originally blogged about the patio cherry tomato plant I purchased from Mahoney’s Garden Center back in June. It was a steep initial investment of $30, but I was willing to take a chance that it would be worth it.

It was a massive plant, about 3 feet tall when we bought it.

Tomato plant on our deck

It grew grew grew all summer, mostly outward, and we had to string the branches several times so they wouldn’t droop on the deck. When we brought it home, there were tons of yellow flowers along with many green tomatoes. It didn’t take very long for them to turn red, and I was very pleased with the vast amount of tomatoes the plant gave us!

It was wonderful to pick handfuls and bowlfuls of delicious cherry tomatoes – every 2nd or 3rd day, I was picking them. I ate them in salads, sauces, and bruschetta. I think my favorite was roasting them in the oven!

So, yes, the $30 investment was worth it. The plant gave us hundreds and hundreds of tomatoes all summer long. I would definitely purchase it again!

the huge bounty of cherry tomatoes

New Deck Veggie Garden

Tomato plant on our deckWe went to the local nursery to purchase a tomato plant for our Topsy Turvy Upside-Down Tomato Planter and ended up purchasing an established larger tomato plant in a container for $30.

Yes, we have plenty of room to grow veggies normally in soil in our yard, but I thought it would be fun to grow a tomato plant on our deck; I just have to remember to water a couple of times weekly. I set an alarm on my iPhone every other morning to remind me!

It’s a very large plant, about 3 feet tall, and it’s exciting because there are already tons of green cherry tomatoes on the plant, and I can’t wait until they are ripe! It came with a wire rack around the plant to keep the plant from drooping, and DH also added a long stake that we will eventually “tie off” if it gets taller.

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