2015 Garden Tour

Good morning everyone! It has been a rainy few days here in PA. Although I loved not watering my garden, the weeds are a bit out of control now.

As mentioned in my last post, I’ve been blogging just not here. I have not lost my interest in gardening at all. Being in the garden is peaceful and I often wonder why I waited so long to even start gardening. I didn’t start until 2012. It *may* have had to do with the fact that I was a teacher. I had no time and I was exhausted.

I was texting a friend last night about report card comments and I don’t miss that at all. In fact, there are very few things I miss about teaching. I only need to spend a short time talking to my teaching friends to remember why I quit.

It’s 7am here and I’ve already went to the gym, went to breakfast with Tony (it’s his last day of school today with kids), took pictures of the garden, and cleaned the kitchen. That’s what happens when you’re not exhausted all the time. You get up early and get stuff done. 🙂

And so, it’s time to blog here for the first time in a while. I’m going to start with a garden tour. Here’s my 2015 garden.

 

 

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In the raised bed above, I have stringless bush beans and Zinnias. In the bed below, I have peppers, tomatoes, sweet olive tomatoes, and cucumbers.

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Then I have potatoes and sunflowers! I planted the potatoes in containers last year, which worked, but it just seemed like more work.

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The bed below doesn’t look like much but a bunch of weeds, but that’s where I started my asparagus this year. Part of the bed is also giant zinnias, which I’ll use to create fresh bouquets in the house.

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Look! Here’s a close up!

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The garden paths:

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Zinnias, apple mint, sunflowers, and wildflowers. I also have a strawberry bed, but didn’t take a picture of that or my potting area.

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Below is a sign I made using an old kitchen cabinet door. I spray painted it white and sanded through the top. I then added the vinyl words (I made using my Cricut machine) and sprayed it with a UV protective clear coat.

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Today is Tony’s last day of school with students, which I’m excited for! He will still go two days next week, but after that we have big plans for the garden. I’ll be fun having him home! I always love the summers spent with him.

For the last few months, have been collecting reclaimed wood and old windows. We are expanding the garden & building a greenhouse out of old windows. I’ll blog about that progress too, but the garden should double in size! And I think the greenhouse is going to be amazing!

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And we can’t forget about the salvaged bricks we found for free to build a path. Cheesecake is trying to eat my flowers here and not interested in the bricks at all.

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~Sondra

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Garden Update: June 12, 2014

It’s raining. So, what does a gardener do when it rains? She updates her gardening blog. A lot has been happening in the garden, but I haven’t had much energy to update this blog when I’ve been actually gardening. But it’s growing!!

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Potatoes, bush beans, tomatoes:

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More potatoes and mint:

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Potatoes growing in a crate:

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Cutting Gardening in progress-sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos: This picture is a bit blue, but you get the point. 

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I’m using watering system this year. If it works this year, I’m going to hide the hoses, but right now I really wanted to just see how it would do. Tony is in charge of watering my garden this week, so I wanted to quick install everything so he had less work.

 

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I got them at Walmart at the end of the season. They were originally $20 a pack, but I got them for 75% off and two from my brother-in-law for my birthday. I used 5 packs in the entire garden. I got them to stay by using a tent stake I bent to fit the hose. Each stake was $0.79 at Ace Hardware.

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A few reclaimed accents:

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Another use for an old chicken crate:

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I drilled holes in a wash tub and now it’s a planter for sunflowers and cosmos. My apple mint is a bit out of control here, you can’t even see the rusty mower in the back.

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My little guy. He HATES coming into the garden because he usually ends up getting sprayed by the hose at some point.

 

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And last, but not least the flowers are finally blooming:

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It’s that time of year…

I’m so excited that the weather around here is finally starting to feel like Spring. And Spring means gardening!

I spent both Saturday afternoon and Sunday all day in the garden.  I’ve been very busy! A lot has also happened since the last time I blogged, but I’ll slowly catch you up on all of that. The first new thing you might notice is a puppy in the pictures below. Unfortunately we lost our English Bulldog, Tank in February to lymphoma. We did get a puppy and he’s such a ball of energy and so much fun.

I’m back to blogging (hopefully to stay). Working in the garden this weekend I’ve discovered that a lot needs to be done. I hauled about 10 wheelbarrows of leaves and debris from around the beds. It was a mess. I even needed my husband’s help to remove branches from a previous ice storm. I cannot wait to get some color in these beds!

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While removing the leaves, I also discovered that the shutters need repainted. They look awful!  The rough winter had quite an impact on the paint.

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So I had to first use a putty knife to get all the paint that was peeling off, which took forever.

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And my little helper kept stealing my kneeling mat.

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I’ll sand the shutters down on Tuesday and hopefully get another layer of paint on them to last another few years.

 

I also got a chance to plant lettuce yesterday (although I did not prepare all of the beds yet, I did do 1/2 of one prepared for lettuce). Lettuce is easily planted right now by seeds and does really well in temperatures ranging from about 45F to 65F. Lettuce is usually somewhat frost tolerant, but I may have to cover it if it gets too cold. I prefer the loose-leaf lettuce because you can just take what you need and it grows back.

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I try to keep my garden as pesticide-free as possible and I do love this Miracle-Gro soil (no they do not pay me to say that, although that would be great, wouldn’t it?). I’ll use regular (inexpensive top soil) for the rest of the beds and mix in a few bags of this when I actually fill the beds in a few weeks.

 

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Overall, I’m excited to finally get back in the garden! And it was nice to have the company of this little guy (don’t you just love the dirt on his chin? He eats it.)

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Finally! I Won’t Kill my Garden!

What am I most excited about? Not killing my entire garden next month. Last year, July ended and August began and I killed my entire garden. Nothing was picked, watered, or weeded. It completely died (except for a few peppers which needed little care).  Why? I began setting up my classroom for a new school year. I started putting in endless hours copying, organizing, planning, and getting ready for my fifth graders.  Yes…in the beginning of August.  I do wish others could see how much time and energy actually goes into preparing a classroom and maybe, just maybe, all the “but teachers have summers off” would stop.

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Many teachers will be in their classrooms this week and I will not be one of them.  Although I didn’t get out of setting up a classroom completely, as I did help a friend, it was a completely different (enjoyable) experience.

Along with not killing my garden, I am enjoying some other firsts:

  • Not freaking out about seeing school supplies in stores. BTW, supplies started showing up in the beginning of July and I smiled instead.
  • Not spending money on school supplies (I would be embarrassed to tell you how much I actually spent last year, besides I’m not sure you’d believe it).
  • Saving some serious money on gas (I had an hour commute each way). Final savings: About $200-$250 a month!
  • Finally, NO school nightmares! There is nothing worse than waking up to some bizarre dream about how you messed something up that was expected of you!

I am still trying to figure out what I miss about teaching this time of year.. So far, I am almost sad to say, there is not too much. The biggest thing would be seeing my colleagues and hearing about their summer. I guess that’s what Facebook is for. 😉 And I am absolutely sure, I will miss the newness of the school year when the students arrive.  I loved seeing their little, excited faces.

So, I’m actually taking care of my garden. Imagine that, I will actually have time to do that.  And I’m happy to say the garden is kind of out of control. Well, the watermelon and cantaloupe are out of control (even with the trellis built). Can you see the two watermelon?

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And a closer look:

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My peppers in one bed are in fantastic shape and are growing well. However, in the other bed,  the bugs are having a feast. I think I have it under control now though 😦

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And my bug-eaten peppers:

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My Roma tomatoes are growing, but seem smaller than usual. Any suggestions?

Overall the garden is in terrific shape along with my stress-level 🙂

June Garden Update

The vegetables are really growing around here!  I am excited to share with you the progress of my garden. Right now I have four raised beds and two smaller beds you can’t see in the picture below.  I may be expanding the garden next year because there is just not enough space. I didn’t attempt to grow potatoes or carrots this year because I didn’t have the room. 😦

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In my  garden I have various types of tomatoes. I have Big Beef Tomatoes for sandwiches, Roma for sauce, and of course Cherry Tomatoes for salads and cooking.In order to have great tomatoes it does take extra care. I’ve been pruning them by removing the suckers. You can find basic tomato care on a post from last year. Needless to say, my tomato plants are growing well and beginning to produce tomatoes. 🙂 If only they would just turn red!

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I also have a few peppers growing too. I planted them facing the sun so the huge tomato plants would not overshadow them. I have 2-3 banana pepper plants, along with green, yellow, and red peppers. No hot peppers here. I cannot do heat. I grew hot peppers last year and I didn’t use them. So this year I just didn’t grow them. I can always visit my mom’s garden to get a few if I need them.

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My raspberries are growing as well! I love having them in my garden. The trick is figuring out how to keep the birds away. If you have a creative idea, I would love to know.

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This month I have been weeding, watering, and controlling pests. All of this hard work will payoff soon.  It was so nice to have help on Sunday. My niece loved taking the suckers off the tomatoes and even helped water the plants. It is so neat to hear all of her questions. It is such a learning process for her. 🙂 Since teaching is in my blood; I love it!

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My dog, Bailey was not as helpful. He spent the entire time trying to find food. Trust me, we do feed him.  He just loves tomatoes! He will even try to pick them right from the tomato plants when they’re ripe.

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It is going to be really hot this week, so I will not forget a day of watering.  I water all my plants at night. There are all kinds of theories about when to water and how much, but my plants are still alive, so I must be doing something right.

Progress in the Garden

Although I have not been posting, the garden has continued to grow. I am proud to say that I have many vegetables that are just about ready to be harvested. My tomato plants are slightly out of control, but I have just been ripping pieces off that have no evidence of flowering. I don’t think it will hurt the plant.


I have even enjoyed a cherry tomato.

I have a few other vegetables growing quite nicely. I was afraid that my banana peppers wouldn’t grow because they were over-shadowed by my huge tomato plants, but they seem to be growing just fine! Almost ready to be picked!

 

Below is my latest project (again with the help of my husband). For my cucumbers, I have made a trellis out of old windows and wire, hopefully not to interfere with my lettuce and carrots on the other side. I painted the frame, took out the glass and replaced it with wire so the cucumbers have something to grab. Total cost: FREE! The paint was even free at an ACE weekend promotion. 🙂

This is the other side of it, where my lettuce and a few carrots located. I think it is going to work out nicely. It is not nearly as pretty as the other side, but still functional.

 

Peas! I am very excited about the various vegetables popping up in my garden. It will allow me to eat healthier and it is now FREE (with a little hard work).

I will be out in the garden again tomorrow! Hopefully more pictures to post. 🙂