Keeping the Rabbits OUT!

So what do normal people do on a 95 degree day? They swim or stay out of the heat! What does a gardener do? They work int the garden, heat and all. I had no choice, the rabbits were ruining my garden.  In early spring, a wood fence with plastic seemed like a good idea. The fence was relatively inexpensive and we were already spending money on paint, Craiglist, and dirt. We decided to save some cash by getting a cheaper fence. Well, that choice actually ended up costing more money. The rabbits figured out how to chew through the fence! They even ate my broccoli that was ready to be picked! I’m happy they didn’t touch anything else in the garden. 🙂

    
I decided to go to Lowe’s for a metal fence (which costs $27.00 per roll and we needed two rolls). Then, I figured since I was taking the fence apart, I might as well stain it! Yeah, since that is a fantastic idea on a 95 degree day! So, I got rid of the plastic fence, stained the fence, and my husband put on the metal fencing.  It was a lot of work, but I love the way it looks!

Before:

After:

I even had a little help 🙂 He slept while I worked, but he was happy to be in the shade with a nice breeze.

I also had to replace the destroyed broccoli, so I went to a local flower shop. I got three different types of peppers. Buy one, get one free! I also bought a few other plants. I bought BBQ Thyme, spearmint, oregano, flowers, and sweet potato vines.

   

Below is where the broccoli used to be. I hope we have finally figured out how to keep rabbits out. If this doesn’t work, I might try the hair trick. My aunt told me to use hair (dog, human, whatever) and sprinkle it around the garden. This trick is actually on a lot of garden blogs too! I just didn’t want animal hair all over the garden.

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Caring for Tomatoes

This has been the 3rd year (I think) that I have had tomatoes. I have ruined them year after year because I simply did not do my research. So here is what works for me…

Watering:
1. Only water the roots: I only water the roots. I do not water the whole plant. Previously, I thought, “Well, when it rains, the leaves get wet.” Yes, although that is true, I have discovered that it does not normally rain everyday and you are watering everyday. So, I only water the roots.

2. Water them a little everyday: You don’t want to over water your tomato plants, but it is important that the soil is moist. Where my garden is, in the raised beds, I have plenty of drainage. I actually check on them in the morning and at night. I just dig a little to see if the soil is moist. It should really never be dry.

3. Always mulch: I think it’s important to add some kind of mulch, leaves, something to retain the moisture. In past years, I did not do this and my tomato plants did not produce and the leaves were yellow. This is a sure sign you need to adjust watering.

4. Don’t over water! After some research, I learned that that is why my tomatoes would split. I wouldn’t water them for a few days and then I would try to compensate by adding a ton of water. Which brings me to my next point. It is important to have a watering schedule.

Care:

1. Prune the suckers?? I know this sounds strange, but when a tomato grows it grows in a ‘Y’ shape. Then right between the ‘Y’ grows a little piece.

You can see that I am pointing to this in the picture above. Simple tear it off with your fingers, or you can cut it with scissors.

I prefer to use scissors because I really don’t like the smell of the tomato plants and it leaves a little bit of a cleaner cut.

 

2. Trim the bottom of the tomato plants: There is simply no reason to keep your tomato plants growing low to the ground. Not only do the leaves toward the ground not produce fruit, but they also take important nutrients from the tomatoes. So, I simply cut them off too!

The bottom of my tomato plants have nothing on them, I cut them all off. You can also see how I trimmed the suckers off from the ‘Y’.

After all that trimming, my tomato plants are doing quite well. It doesn’t seem to matter where I cut, the plant heals itself. In the picture below, you can see two places where I cut that are okay.

 

Just don’t forget the importance of watering the plants correctly. You can cut (it seems) anywhere you want and the tomato plants won’t die. I am proud that I actually have nice tomato plants this year. FINALLY! And the tomatoes taste great too! I don’t even like tomatoes, but I think because I grew them, I actually want to eat them. 🙂


You can even see some good tomatoes in this picture! I can’t wait until they are ready!

Canning Sweet Pickles

Since I began eating healthy, I have avoided High Fructose Corn Syrup. I buy just about everything that says ”No HFCS” and I can’t help it. I know… I know… I have heard study after study that says HFCS processes the same as sugar in the body, but for some reason I just don’t trust it! I have been trying to stay away from highly processed food and the Iphone app called “Fooducate” is amanzing. You can scan any item and it rates it. Food that you THINK is healthy, really is not at all.

So in a quest to avoid HFCS, I stopped buying sweet pickles all together. Yes, I have seen the stuff sweetened with Splenda, but I don’t like the idea of that either. Besides, my husband avoids anything that says “Diet” on the label. 🙂 So today, after realizing I had quite a few pickling cucumbers ready, I was ready to do a small batch of canning items. There is a difference between pickling cucumbers and regular cucumbers, regular cucumbers can be used for pickles, but from what I have read they are not nearly as crispy. I also had help in the garden today. My nephew spent the night and of course I put him to work watering celery and cucumbers. He was such a wonderful help.

And the canning begins. I cut the cucumbers first, but some of my cucumbers were a little ripe. They just might be a little soft, but that’s okay with me!

My husband bought me a canning kit for Christmas, but this is the first time that I actually used it. I have NEVER canned pickles before, so I followed the directions very carefully on the seasoning pack I bought. I also found this How to Make Pickles website extremely helpful because of the pictures. These are the materials that I used besides my canning pot.

 


I made the mixture, brought it to a boil, poured it in the containers and put on the heated lids. Then I processed the jars for about 15 minutes and now they are sitting for 24 hours. The pickles will take up to 6 weeks to process in the jars and will last for about a year. I hope the can seals okay! It is best to store the containers without the rings. If the jar spoils, the lid will come off and then you know that it is not safe to eat it. 🙂

Now I will have pickles without HFCS in just a few short weeks. I will probably make more in the future when I get more pickling cucumbers.

Another Day in the Garden

Tony and I began the morning with a 2.5 mile run and boy was it hot! We couldn’t do anymore than that because of the humidity. Going to church on Saturday nights have left our Sundays free. So today Tony promised to help me build the other window cucumber trellis and help me contain my tomato plants a little more. As I mentioned before, my tomatoes are going crazy! He was busy this morning taking the glass out of the window, which he said, “Is a complete pain!”

As you can see, the cucumbers seem to be growing up them well.It also hides the bright purple/pink paint that I chose and it looks nice.

I also worked on planting the numerous flowers I bought from the Mud Sale yesterday. I saw on Pinterest to use burlap in planters instead of the expensive moss you can buy at garden or craft stores. So, since my husband bought burlap at a sale in April we had some on hand.  I was annoyed because I had no idea what we were going to use it for, but now I am glad he bought it. 🙂 That is usually what happens when I leave him unattended at an auction. Below is what I put the burlap in and the flowers I planted.

Here is the finished product! I really like the look of the burlap! In fact, I think I love it more than those moss (expensive) liners.  I had an empty space in my flowerbed behind my potting table because my asparagus and rhubarb didn’t grow. I think the seeds (or roots) I got from SKH were old. So I turned this corner into something pretty.

Side flowerbed finished… I had to take the picture through the trellis, but you can also see my beans and eggplant to the right.

Here is a different angle, but in this picture you can see the antique post digger that my husband bought for $5 yesterday.