Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve

Well, I think I've held on to my pepper plants long enough. Just pulled all of the underripe peppers off to dehydrate. Wanted to check if the habeneros were hot so I tried a green one and yep. If they survive tonight, and if I have time, I'll overwinter the plants in pots in the greenhouse.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Greenhouse Pictures

Inside the new greenhouse at night. Starting lots of lettuce and peas to give away.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Here are a few pictures to show the expansion of our garden and the progress of our watermelons. We are growing all of our watermelons on a few trellises that Jeremy made with some netting and EMT pipe. They were easy to do and cost effective. In addition to the watermelon we also have a few different types of winter squash. We planted them in a 55 gallon food grade drum(that we got for free) cut into 3 equal pieces. Inside each drum we used 100% of our own compost as opposed to the garden beds that have  a variety of ingredients, mostly store bought. The trellis is very strong and was able to support the weight of Jeremy(approx. 180 lbs.) and more then 8ft. tall.
Bush Sugar Baby in garden box. Expected to get up to 12 lbs.

Bush Sugar Baby in barrels

New Orchid planted in a barrel. Expected to get up to 7 lbs.

New Orchid planted in a barrel. We ran out of netting and plats set fruit below the support of the net so we improvised with a 5 gallon bucket.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Squash, Squash and MORE Squash

If you have a squash plant I am sure that you are enjoying the abundance of food that these hardy plants produce. We have 2 Crookneck and 2 Zucchini plants and have shared quite a bit of the harvest with family and friends and it still seems that we have more then enough to eat. It can be hard to come up with new ways to prepare and eat the squash, so I thought that I would share some of the ways that we have been enjoying our summer squash.

Grilled: This is the easiest and most common way we eat it. We cut them into long strips about 1/4inch thick and brush both sides with olive oil and add a few of our favorite spices; salt, pepper, garlic, Italian seasoning, etc.. We then throw then on the grill with whatever meat we are cooking that night….YUMMY! If you don’t have a BBQ you could just put them on a cookie sheet and broil them on the oven.

Stuffed: Last week was our first attempt at Stuffed Zucchini. I searched online for a recipe that called for ingredients that I had at home to save me a trip to the store. I found this one on and gave it a try. It turned out pretty good and I am sure that we will be having stuffed zucchini again.  For this you will want your Zuchinni a little larger. We let ours grow about 12 inches.

Kabobs: We also added some cubed squash to some teriyaki chicken kabobs that we had the other night. Both varieties went well with the bell peppers, mushrooms, onion and pineapples that were on the kabobs.

Tonight I am going to give this Pesto Chicken Grill Packets recipe at try that I found on I am really excited about this one as we have most of the ingredients in our garden and we love pesto.

Later this week,  I am also going to try some zucchini bread. Do you have any recipes you would recommend?

Below is a SQUASH FAQ's that we go from Bonnie Plants. This is a quick  and easy to use website that visit often to get information about the plabts tha we are growing.  

FAQ's for Squash

What causes a healthy-looking plant to fail to produce squash or to produce small squash that quickly rot?
This could be a pollination problem. The female flower must be properly pollinated for healthy fruit to form, so be sure that you haven't done any spraying to harm bees. Are your plants under row covers where bees can't reach them?

Also, be aware that under moist conditions sometimes the little fruit coming along behind the flower rots along with the flower. If this is the case, you can clean old blooms off developing fruit as you are out harvesting, or wait for the weather to dry out a bit.

When should zucchini be harvested? What about yellow squash?
Harvest when fruit is young and measures no more than 8 inches in length. Check plants every other day at the peak of production and never leave any on the vine, even if they are too big and tough to eat. This saps energy and will signal the plant to stop producing.

Yellow squash (crookneck and straightneck) can grow up to 10 inches long, but don't let them. They taste best when harvested young. Pick squash between 4 to 6 inches in length to ensure tenderness.

How much of the stem should I cut when picking squash?
With winter squashes (acorn, butternut, hubbard) it's important to cut so that the fruit has an inch or two of stem to prevent rot in weeks of storage. With summer squash (yellow squash and zucchini), it doesn't matter because you will use the squash soon. However, it is important not to yank or rip the fruit from the plant. Cut it from the vine with a knife or shears so that the plant is not injured. These plants will continue producing for a while if healthy.

How can blossom drop be prevented in squash? Is there a deficiency in the soil?
The blossom drop that you see is probably the male flower, which is intended to dry up and fall off. Only the female bloom produces fruit. You can tell the difference in the flowers by their stems. The male stem is thin, while the female stem is swollen; that is where the fruit will grow. All squash plants have both male and female flowers.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Harvest Update!

Here are a few photos of what we have been collecting of the last few weeks. We LOVE eating the fresh and tasty vegetables.

Yellow, Purple and Green Bush beans. We get a good size harvest every week. These are a hearty and bountiful plant that we would highly recommend.

Summer Squash. We get about 1 a day. Our favorite way to have them right now is to slice them, brush them with EVOO, season them with a few spices and throw them on the grill. I will be experimenting with stuffed Zucchini in a few days.  

The last of our winter lettuce. We have planted some summer varieties and excited to give them a try.

Okra. We tried fried okra for the first time last night and it was very good(thanks, aunt Kathy).

Lemon Cucumber, odd looking but very tasty!

Bush Sugar Baby Watermelon, doing really good so far.

Fresno Chili Peppers.

Black Beauty Egg plant. We are still waiting to harvest our first one.

Sungold tomatoes, by far our favorite thing in the garden. Only a few have made it into the house not because of the quantity but because they are soooo good!

Strawberries. We only get a few a day, we wished we had planted more but they do make a good snack for the girls.

6.5 ft trellis will disappear soon behind the tomatoes and cucumber plant(s).

Winter Squash; 2 Butternut and a Salmon River. A bush bean a 2 Thai Chillies for fun.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Compost Challenge: Complete!

A few days ago, the 2-week compost challenge came to and end.  We set out to see if in 2 weeks our pile of decomposing garden trimmings and kitchen waste would become usable compost that could be used in our garden to plant more vegetables. Well, it was a success. Check it out....

Day 14, complete.

There are a few larger items that we found that did not decompose all the way, mostly because of the size they were when we started. Top left, Swiss Chard Stalk. Top right, what is left of a small cardboard box. Bottom left, what is left of an 18-pack carton of eggs. Bottom right, tops of pineapples.

The larger items would have had more success if we had chopped them into smaller pieces. I am still really surprised how much the 18pack of eggs decomposed. Some of the larger items that we put in the pile like whole oranges and potatoes were nowhere to be found. We just threw the above items in the next compost pile we are working on.
You may have noticed that there were a few larger sticks and such in the pile. What you might find more beneficial (especially if you are planning seed) is to sift the dirt to remove these larger items. Below is a picture of a type of sifter.

As I said in a previous post, what we believe the key to success in having this ready in 2 weeks was the daily turning. All of the stuff in the pile was naturally decomposing and would have continued to do so, we just sped up the natural process by making sure the pile was getting enough air and had the right amount of moisture. Our goal was to turn the pile every day but with the weather and our sometimes busy schedule we only turned it 10 out of the 14 days. We are very happy with these results as it will save us a ton of money on purchasing dirt. We are adding great quality and organic matter into our soil for FREE, all it cost was about 20 mins a day. We hope that this encourages you to start your own pile. It is really easy, cheap and the benefits your plants with will receive from the nutrient rich compost are great!

If you are look for a cheap and easy way to have a compost pile check out the pictures below from our friends, Jon and Susan Menton. The captions in the pictures are descriptions from Jon and Susan. Thanks guys for sharing your pics!!
Composter is 3 feet high and 3 feet in diameter. We took some 3 feet tall fencing and wrapped into a circle. You attach it together in just a couple of places and it has no bottom. You fill it with compost material and when you are ready to turn it,  just open it up and move it close by, reattach it in a circle shape, and throw the material into it from your pile. This will effectively flip the pile each time you do it.
The pile you see is reduced from a completely filled composter.

The mesh we used is 2 inches by 3 inches. It works fine, but we would not recommend getting any larger of a mesh.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Update on the Compost Challenge!

We are 9 days into the "Compost Challenge" and things are looking great! We have turned the pile every day with the exception of 1 day when it was non-stop rain. A few days into the challenge the pile got very hot, so hot that it is steaming and it has remained that way. This is a good sign and it means that it is working. If you are interested in the science behind the compost process I encourage you to check out CORNELL Composting.

I believe that they key to making our compost successful is turning of the pile everyday. Not only is this allowing air to reach the center of the pile but it provides a good opportunity to check the vitals of the compost. Is it too wet, to dry, does it smell?

So far, so good. Other then the 20mins it takes to turn the pile it has been very low maintenance.

As we are staying faithful to turning the compost the process is really taking care of it's self.

In our next post on compost we want to provide some ideas on composting bins. If you are composting and would like to share a picture of your bin email it to us and will post it!

Below you can see the difference between Day 1 and today, Day 9. The pile is "smaller" today, which is another good sign.

Day 1

Day 9

Friday, June 3, 2011

Composting 101

In order to have successful compost pile you need 4 things: Nitrogen, Carbon, Air and Water
Carbon: This is found in things like Leaves, shrub pruning, wood ash and news paper.
Nitrogen: This comes from adding fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings and coffee grounds.  
Hint: Do not put meat, dairy products, fats or oils in your compost. These items will not decompose properly, smell and attract unwanted pest.
Air: The compost will need to get oxygen. This is why turning the pile is so important. When you turn the pile it helps to loosen it allowing air to get to the pile.  You can also get air by adding bulky items such as twigs and sticks. This will keep the pile from compressing and restricting airflow.  Whatever you are using to house your compost pile should also provide for a good flow of air.
Water: For successful compost your pile it will need to be kept moist but not so wet that you can squeeze water from it. A good time to check the moisture level of the compost is when you are turning the pile.  If it is a little dry add some water t. If it is too moist give it a few extra turns and turn it a few days in a row to help it dry out.
Last night when Jeremy turned the compost, he noticed that it was a little dry and added some water.
Carbon + Nitrogen + Air + Water = Successful Compost
That’s it…. pretty simple!
Update on our compost challenge, Day 3.
Below is a picture of our pile after turning it today. Things seem to decomposing pretty quickly and the temperature of the pile is really heating up which is a good sign. If you look closely you will see part of a cardboard 18pack egg container that was in one piece on the first day.  

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Compost Challenge

Ok here we go....Lets see how long it takes for this stuff to decompose. We will be turning the pile everyday to see how long it takes to become compost that we can use in our garden.

The pile is made up of yard trimmings and variety of uncooked fruit and vegetable scraps.

Some experts say that if we turn the pile everyday it will be ready in about two weeks. I am a little skeptical of this as we have some rather larger pieces of kitchen waste that need to decompose.

Check back frequently because during this two week challenge we will give updates as well as helpful information for you to start and maintain your own compost pile.

Let the composting begin!

Day 1, Before turning the pile

Day 1, After turning the pile

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lets face it....we are long overdue for an update. Below you will see many pictures of the garden(s) and the variety of fruits and vegetables that we have growing. Things are growing well and we have been enjoying the fruits of our (well…mostly Jeremy's) labor.

Garden Bed#1, South Side

Garden Bed #1, East Side

Purple Beans from Bean Bush, Garden Bed#1

Green Beans from Bean Bush, Garden Bed#1



Bell Pepper, Garden Bed #1

Strawberries, Garden Bed#1
Garden Bed#2

Lemon Cucumber, Garden Bed#2

Squash, Garden Bed #2

Lettuce, Garden Cart

Swiss Chard, Garden Cart

Water Melon, 5 Gallon Bucket

Tomato, unknown. We found it growing in our compost.
Garden Bed #2

We do not just want to provide you with updates on our garden but to share our success and failures in hopes that it will encourage you to start a garden or provide helpful information as YOU garden. We will start providing recipes for preparing the food that is grown, resources that have helped us to get started and new ideas that that we are considering.  So, if you have questions ask them, if you have ideas share them….we’re in this together.  We want this be as interactive as possible.

Until next time…..

Monday, April 25, 2011

It worked! Potatoes!

So, I planted some seed potatoes in early January.


Well, they started to turn yellow, stopped growing, and developed spots all over them.  Maybe they are overwatered. so I didn't even watered them for at least a month. I thought they had a disease, but a person from the nursery told me it was from all of the rain.  Either way, they seemed dead and I wanted to use the pot for a tomato. SURPRISE! Little potatoes. About 5 or 6 times the amount I planted. If I had grown them the way the instructions said, I bet I could have gotten a lot more. The seed potatoe skins were still whole in the bottom of the pot.  They were just hollowed.
Red Pontiac Potatoes 4/22/11
Definitely gonna try them again.  But maybe a different variety.