This past week, Jessica, John, and I were all stricken with Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, and it couldn’t have come at a better time! Since we are highly contagious, we are spending a lot of time at home, which is giving us plenty of time to pick all of the blackberries that are beginning to ripen in our yard! Most of our vines grow wild in our yard. I think berry picking season is my absolute favorite because I don’t have to do anything except go out and pick the berries! I do have two vines I bought at Lowes that I have been trying to cultivate to grow along the fence (before I knew we had them all over our yard), but one of them had an unfortunate incident with the weed whacker and may not be producing blackberries for quite a few years to come…
John loves to go berry picking!
No, seriously….can’t you tell?!?!
Jessica has been a really good helper! She finds all of the ripe berries and puts them in the bucket! I was also recently gifted with some strawberries from some friends who went to a pick your own farm! We had strawberries for dinner several nights and still have enough to make 6-8 jars of strawberry jam! I expect we will also be having blackberries several nights for dinner and still have plenty left to make quite a few jars of blackberry jam!
Isn’t it great?!?!? It is a tiller, and he got it for 7% of what it would be worth new (and it is still in good condition)!!!
I am getting super excited about planting my garden this fall!!!
A report on our Spring/Summer crop:
Wild Blackberry Vines: Grew everywhere and produced during the early summer!
Planted Blackberry Vines: Grew but produced no fruit this year.
Heirloom Green Beans: Did not do well in this climate. Will switch back to genetically engineered seeds this Fall/Winter.
Heirloom Herbs: Did not do well in this climate. Will switch back to genetically engineered seeds.
Tomatoes: Did wonderfully, but next year I need netting to protect the tomatoes from the pesky birds!
Potatoes and Onions: They produced miniature versions. You get more bang for your buck planting in the Fall/Winter.
Romaine: Did well, but apparently home garden romaine tends to be a lot smaller than the romaine you get in the grocery store…
Bell Peppers: These suffered from lack of attention when I was on bed rest and having the miscarriage. We will have to try them again next year.
Strawberries: These also suffered from lack of attention when I was on bed rest and having the miscarriage. We will have to try them again next year as well.
Carrots: MIA. I planted carrots, and I know where I planted them, but I cannot find them. I am not sure if they never grew or what. Another we will have to try again next year!
I just finished planting corn for our late summer crop. I am hoping to plant a little more this next week! Then it will be time to gear up for our Fall/Winter planting! We probably won’t plant as much this Fall/Winter because I have several other projects that need to be done. I am thinking just green beans and broccoli. Pictures to follow later once plants start coming up!
This year I planted mixture of seeds. Most of the seeds I planted came from Lowe’s and were genetically engineered. Actually, most seeds you buy in the store these days are genetically engineered unless they say differently. The primary reason for doing this is to make sure you cannot save your seeds. That way you have to keep coming back every year to buy seeds! The benefits of genetically engineered seeds include increased resistance to disease and pests.
However, I also decided to plant a few heirloom seeds so that I could save the seeds each year. Unfortunately, it seems that the green beans and herbs that I planted did not do very well, which I can only attribute to the heirloom seeds as I have planted genetically engineered varieties here before and had very healthy results.
I decided to get on some message boards and ask if anyone else in my area uses heirloom seeds. I got several responses back, and it seems that this climate is just too harsh for my plants to thrive. However, it was suggested that more tropical heirloom seeds might do better in this area. Another gentleman also suggested that I might try a hybrid variety. Hybrids are not genetically engineered, but they are the product of two or more different varieties, hopefully retaining the strengths of each. Unfortunately though, you cannot save their seeds either.
I would still like to use heirloom seeds so that I do not have to keep buying genetically engineered seeds, but I think I might should spend the winter researching the history of this area to determine what vegetables would do best in this climate….hmmm, perhaps a trip to Amazon is in order!!
It has been a month or two since I last updated this blog on the progress of our garden. The strawberries once again never came up. Next year I may try buying a plant from somewhere other than Lowe’s! Our green beans are coming along nicely and will be ready for picking soon!
The tomato plants have not died yet so I consider that to be a good sign! I know of no one who has been successful at growing backyard tomatoes in this area.
The onions do not look so good, but they are supposed to be a winter crop so we will see what happens with them.
The lettuce seems to be coming along well.
I am not quite sure which ones are the carrots (as I don’t believe in regular weeding), but I am sure it will become apparent soon enough!
So far the potatoes also seem to be doing well. We will see how they fair since they are also considered a winter crop. I need to add some more dirt to them.
I also planted my herb garden.
Hopefully in the next several weeks I will be able to start using it to season our food!
Today I planted my pepper plants. They are still pretty tiny!
The blackberry vines seem to be coming along nicely.
After planting the blackberry vines, I discovered that we had been cutting back some wild blackberry vines on our property!
We have really been enjoying all the fresh blackberries!
Things have been very busy around our house as we are heavily into planting season! Last year we grew green beans and were unsuccessful at growing strawberries and tomatoes. This year we planted 144 green bean seeds, 25 tomato plants, 9 potatoes, 80 onions, approximately 50 carrot seeds, and approximately 50 romaine seeds. This is all in the 12 foot by 48 foot bed.
You will notice that my husband staked boards around the entire bed. The grass in this area crawls along the top of the ground so in order to keep the vegetables from having to compete with the grass, you must put up some kind of a barrier. We also planted some blackberry bushes along the fence and strawberries in a hanging basket. Unfortunately, I think the strawberry plant we got from Lowe’s must not have been very good because I don’t think it is going to make it.
We plan to do some more planting once it stops raining long enough to get it all planted.
We are beginning to gear up for planting season around here, and one of the things we did this past year was start composting. We wanted something that was contained and easy for me to mix while toting a little one! I ended up finding instructions on About.com describing how to use an old garbage bin. The instructions said to take a plastic garbage bin and poke holes on the sides and bottom with a hammer and nail. My husband being the efficient person that he is decided it would be much quicker to poke holes in it with an awl. It worked out great! It is best to layer paper trash (brown material) between layers of fruit and vegetable trash (green material) to get it started. Now all I have to do is water it and roll it around the yard about once a week!
There are several ways this is beneficial. First, it is a great way to cut down on your garbage. I knew that you could put kitchen waste and paper in a compost bin but used kitty litter, bones, dryer lint, and sawdust had not occurred to me! However, you do need to be careful to make sure your bin is consistently about 1/3 green material and 2/3 brown material so that your compost does not end up having too much nitrogen. One website I found does a particularly nice job of detailing how to make sure your compost bin has the right balance of carbon and nitrogen. Link Second, if you have a compost bin, you do not need to buy fertilizer or dirt when you get ready to plant. This is especially an issue for us because our soil has a lot of sand in it. Third, I can see little helpers enjoying the task of rolling the bin around the yard once big enough!
When you are used to throwing everything into a trash bag, using an outdoor compost bin can seem rather inconvenient. To make it a little more convenient and save a little more money, I usually use an old plastic ice cream tub with a lid to hold all compost material until I have an opportunity to empty it in the compost bin. This is especially nice if it is raining! I also used grocery sacks to hold the rest of our garbage. This has worked out really well because 1) the bags are free and 2) one bag will typically only last a day or two so if we have any stinky disposable diapers in the bag they will not be there long enough to stink up the house!