Archive for ‘My {un}Perfect Garden’

June 6, 2011

Gardening Edition: Pruning your tomato plants

At best, I’m a gardening rookie; a novice; a wanna-be.  I’m trying to always learn new stuff, but I’ve never been a great studier, so I get overwhelmed learning too much at once.  That’s why a recent “field trip” was perfect for me!  The kids and I went with my mom to her friend C.P.’s  house – she has many, many chickens and huge gardens.  That morning C.P. and her husband had planted 150 tomato plants in their garden…and still had a TON of plants {that they had grown under grow lights in their basement} that they were now selling off.  I was excited to try some of their many varieties like green sausage, black krim, black plum, 2 kinds of romas, big beef hybrid, yellow pear, large red cherry, delicious, gardener’s delight, triple crop climber {the plant can grow 10-25 FEET tall and grows tomatoes as big as your face!}, and one other that I can’t remember right now.  While picking out my tomatoes, C.P. gave me a quick lesson in pruning tomato plants.  Pruning?  Who knew??  Anyway, whenever you see a little leaf shooting out of the crook like this:


you need to pick off the “sucker branch” below it.  The sucker will not bear fruit and will essentiall suck all the nutrients from the fruit-bearing “branches”.  Don’t want that now, do we?

{pick that sucker}

I did this with all my tomato plants.  At first they looked tall, skinny, and funny. 

{A little topheavy...}

 But have no fear!  Those fruit-bearing “branches” will grow and fill out.  And the best part is, you’ll get lots of tomatoes!

{filling out nicely}

 Maybe this is all Gardening 101, but I grew several tomato plants {semi-successfully} last season without having a clue about pruning them.  Now I’m hoping for a large crop that’ll give me plenty to can and make salsa with.  I saw the first sign of produce progress with some bright yellow blossoms today – yay!

{I see lycopene in my future}

 And, just for fun, here are a few other photos from the garden…

{my newly constructed pea trellis}

{emerging fiesta - black beans!}{tiny little carrot sprouts}{doesn't look much like spinach yet, does it?}{itty bitty bells - peppers, that is}


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May 28, 2011


I’m not sure I would’ve ever said that Spring is my favorite season.  Truthfully, I still wouldn’t say it – fall will always hold that place in my heart.  Living in the midwest we get lots of rain and can go from 80 degrees one day to 50 degrees the next.  Oh, and don’t forget that for about half of our official spring we still have the icky white stuff lingering around.  But I have recently developed a love for primavera – all the big box garden centers are open, roadside flower/vegetable stands spring up, the smell of freshly cut grass, hostas spike up out of the ground, we can finally start putting away our winter gear, porch chats with my neighbor K.N. don’t require mittens and hats, the kids start playing more outside than inside, I get to see my all neighbors again for more than a few minutes at the bus stop, we pull out the hammock, and…I can start planting my vegetable garden!  After fizzling out a bit last year {largely due to the flooding  that made overwhelming amounts of grass/weeds pop up}, I came up with a new and improved plan.  The Hubs {with the help of “A”} built me 8 raised beds and brought in soil to fill them. 

{Hubs and A making the beds. Now if I could only get them to make their real beds...}

 Another lesson I learned is that {for my situation}, buying plants works much better than starting from seed.  Last year I started seeds on my kitchen table {the only available area with enough light} and it was annoying at best.  Even worse, I ended up buying a whole bunch of plants to supplement anyway.  So yesterday I headed to a local nursery to purchase my precious veggies.  In very non-me fashion, I actually got all my plants planted the same day I bought them!  I’m usually such a procrastinator that half my plants get all wilted before I get them in the ground.  Not this time 🙂 

{Some of my little green babies}

 “A” was very excited to help me.  “M” started out interested in helping, but quickly moved on to his bike and the trampoline.  Oh well…at least he had fun and stayed occupied!

{One little Monkey…}

Now that everything has been planted, the waiting game begins.  Gardening is a good lesson in patience for me.  I’m a “want-what-I-want-when-I-want-it” kinda girl {case in point – Hubs and I dated 2.5 months before getting engaged and were married 6.5 months later.  When you know, you know.  You know?}, so it’s tough to wait for the beautiful, bountiful fruits {or veggies, as they may be in this case} of my labor.  But wait I will, and I’m sure I’ll again be pleasantly overwhelmed with the produce my garden produces.  Like zucchini coming out my ears – YAY!  Chocolate chip zucchini muffins anyone??

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August 8, 2010

How does my garden grow?

…with some success and a lot of mess and green beans all in a row.

Some of the vegetables in my garden have run their course for the season.  The zucchini and peas are pretty much done.  I planted a second crop of peas, but unfortunately I’ve got mutant ninja watermelon vines taking over my pea trellis!   Tonight as I went out to the garden to take stock of what can be harvested, what can be composted {yep, we’re composting now}, and what’s dead, I spotted the black bean plants.

Now, I love black beans and had such high hopes for growing my own.  Unfortunately these plants had been a bit of a disappointment from the beginning.  When they started to grow they looked just like the green beans.  What?!  I asked around to see if this was normal {not sure what I was expecting them to look like?}, but nobody here in Michigan seems to be growing black beans.  My other frustration was that when the rabbits would get into the garden {and that’s a whole ‘nother story}, they’d make a beeline for the black bean leaves.  Nevermind the fact that the green bean plants were right next to the black beans and {to me, anyway} they looked just alike.  The rabbits never touched the green bean leaves.  Umm…ok.  So I just sort of left the plants alone.  Stopped caring that there were no leaves left on the plants and the beans were brown/drying up.

{Sad, sad black bean plants}

{Little brown bean}

Ok, back to tonight.  For some reason I decided to split open one of these dried up ol’ beans and {gasp} inside were black beans!  I’d checked a few weeks ago and there were white beans inside, so I wasn’t hopeful.  I excitedly grabbed a bowl and started harvesting my precious black bean pods.  After my “shelling” I ended up with a whopping 2.57oz {yes, ounces} of black beans.  Not much, but you’d better believe I’ve got them soaking in the kitchen right now!

{YAY for little black beans!}

Another disappointment is the carrots in my garden.  I suspect my soil isn’t loose enough, so I’ll give them one more shot next year when we bring new soil in and do a better job tilling.  Anyway… I felt like my carrots had “cooked” long enough  and I decided to pull them all.  Bummer, bummer, bummer.  I got three that even resembled carrots.  Even through my disappointment I was proud enough of my three baby carrots to throw them into my chopped salad 🙂

{silly little carrots}

So there’s the skinny on my latest {un}perfect gardening goings-on.  In the next week or so our watermelons should be ready to harvest–yum!

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July 14, 2010

Underwater Garden


{An underwater garden}

Upon returning home from a camping trip over Memorial weekend, I found this.  {sigh}

Thank God, all the water had drained by the next morning and all is well.  We must have some really sandy soil.  How fabulously {un}perfect!

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