About this blog

With the generous help of my grandma, I am spending this spring and summer learning how to garden
by plunging in headfirst. This blog is a narrative of my adventures.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Eggplants At Last

As usual, I came home from Grandma's with more peppers than I need, and a handful of cherry tomatoes, although for some reason the big tomatoes are ripening slowly. I also found two ripe eggplants. And I remembered there were some carrots that were too little a few weeks ago, so I dug them up today.

I know you guys want pictures but I never have my camera with me and pictures just don't look as good on my phone. So I put a little still life together of some of the veggies I picked today.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

So Many Peppers

I picked peppers and tomatoes today. This is the third batch of peppers so far and there are more every time I look. The hot peppers are particularly prolific, as are the aconcagua peppers. Today I picked less than half of the peppers that were ready because I knew I would never be able to eat them all.

The tomatoes so far have been yellow pears and black cherries, but today the first two slicing-sized tomatoes were ripe. It looked like some kind of bug had made holes in one of them, though, so I'll have to see if it's still edible.

There are two or three eggplants that should be ready any day now. They're definitely the prettiest plants in my garden.

Family members, PLEASE go pick some peppers!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Cacophany of Carrots

I walked home from Grandma's today with two bags full of vegetables. I pulled up about two thirds of the carrots and decided I would leave the rest because my bag was full. They're really cute and fat and stumpy but I haven't tasted one yet. Family members, if you want carrots, go to Grandma's and dig them up. Seriously.

I also picked a few tomatoes (yellow pear and black cherry) and several peppers (one orion bell, one purple beauty, and a bunch of banana peppers that may or may not be hot). There are many more peppers and tomatoes ripening and one tiny eggplant just starting.

Things are coming along!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ripe Tomatoes and Fresh Spinach

It's been so long! Forgive me. To be honest, there hasn't been much going on in the garden except that the vegetables have been doing what vegetables should do--growing and ripening. The peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants are loving the hot weather we've been having lately. But if you've stuck with me you're definitely due for an update.

On Saturday I harvested the late lettuce and spinach Grandma planted. It tasted surprisingly good considering how hot it's been and how big it got before I harvested it. I also put a new layer of leaves under the tomatoes, although all the leaves that are left are wet so I'm not sure how much good they'll do. And to my delight there were three ripe yellow pear tomatoes. I wasn't able to wait until I got home and ended up eating them in the car. You can see how nice they looked...before I ate them...below:
And there are all sorts of peppers growing like crazy. I'm very excited, but none of them are ready to pick yet. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Weeds, Onions, and Some Pretty Flowers

I got rid of all the clover and crab grass that had crept its way into the upper garden. The poor carrots were all tangled up in clover, so now the garden is looking much better. I also put a fresh layer of leaves under the tomatoes.

I harvested the lettuce from the lower garden. It all seemed to survive, though some of it is kind of stunted. It's probably nearly radioactive with all the chemicals running off from the country club during the flood, but I'll try it. And look...it's an onion!
I pulled up some of the weeds around them and they're doing better than I thought. I have some questions about onions for anyone who cares to answer. First of all, do they like this tropical rainforest weather or are they just extraordinarily hardy? Secondly, is the onion supposed to stick out of the ground like that or has the rain washed away the soil? Lastly, how do I know when to harvest them?

Since I didn't have a lot of interesting things to photograph today, I thought I would show you how beautiful Grandma's garden looks right now:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Checking In

I've been rather busy of late so I haven't even visited my vegetables for about two weeks, let alone done any gardening. Today I managed to stop by and see how things are doing. I'm afraid I found the lower garden in a worse state than when I last saw it. The few peas and broccoli that had been clinging to life are gone and I only see three scraggly little onions. Grandma says if the foliage is healthy then the edible part underneath the soil is fine too, but I don't know if they're going to hold out much longer.

The upper garden, on the other hand, is very happy. I need to do some weeding and replace the leaf bed under the tomatoes, but everything is growing well. The heat is favoring the eggplants and peppers, as you can see from this eggplant:
 The carrots are growing like weeds as well, and there are bunches of green tomatoes, some round and some pear-shaped.
While it's turned out to be a much smaller operation than I originally intended, it's still going well, all things considered.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


There's not too much going on these days, but I did give my tomatoes a little bit of attention yesterday. Their bed needed fluffing so I poured a flesh layer of leaves around them. One of them is already growing a tiny green tomato!

Grandma was also kind enough to plant some more lettuce and spinach for me. It may not do well in this heat, but it can't hurt to try.

This might be the least exciting blog post since Al Gore invented the Internet. Sometimes gardens just don't do anything worth writing about. Thanks for reading anyway.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Scenes from the Carnage

I decided not to take a picture of the salad I had for dinner last night because I thought that would be weird, but it turned out pretty well.

I did, however, finally steel myself to take pictures of what's left of the lower garden. It's bad journalism to withhold the worst from my readers. So here it is, the mudflat that once was a garden:
 Almost all of what you see living are weeds. Most of my plants look like this brussels sprout:
As I mentioned in my previous post, a few plants, such as the lettuce and onions, look like they might survive. I don't know what has happened to the onions underground though, being in saturated soil for so long.
This will be an experiment in resilience. In the meantime, it looks like a deer and a raccoon have enjoyed the newly receded waters as well.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Harvesting Greens

The spinach and lettuce in the upper garden were ready so I harvested them today. I can probably manage to make two salads out of what I collected, and I don't have any other vegetables to go with it. Maybe I'll plant some more.

I also weeded the upper garden because it was getting a little overrun with clover and volunteers from Grandma's cilantro patch.

I was surprised to see the lower garden pretty much dried out, so I took a trip down the hill to check it out. It's muddy but there's no standing water left. There aren't many living plants left either. The lettuce seems to have held out OK, I think because it's in the highest part of the garden. There are two or three peas that might pull through, a handful of broccoli plants, and the onions seem to be alright, at least above ground. I don't think any cabbages, brussels sprouts, or cauliflowers will make it.

I'll just have to watch and wait to see what springs back to life.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Some of My Plants Aren't Drowning

I thought I should share some pictures of the upper garden since my last post was such a downer. If the lower garden never dries out at least I won't be left with nothing.

The lettuce and spinach are all looking awesome and are ready to harvest. I think I may even plant some more lettuce because for some reason only three lettuce plants grew in the upper garden even though I planted at least three times that many seeds.

The carrots (below) are also beginning to grow nicely, though I guess I have no idea how the actual carroty part looks underground. As you can see from the picture, I have some weeding to do.
And below is a better picture of the tomatoes than what I showed you last week. They're beginning to grow upright and looking very happy. As long as I don't look over the hill I'm happy too.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Did Someone Say Something About an Ark?

I didn't know whether I should laugh or cry when I looked over the hill this afternoon. It didn't matter because I was too shocked to do either. I knew the lower garden would be flooded after the buckets of rain that have poured on us endlessly but I wasn't expecting this:
The water stretches continuously from the lake to Grandma's pond through to the garden. And here's what it looks like inside:
Those are the only stakes that are still above water. And on the right is a pea. Most of the plants are underwater but a couple of the taller broccoli, cauliflower and pea plants are poking up above the water line.

And just to add insult to injury, a bunch of tennis balls have been washed down the hill from the courts at the neighboring country club. Looks like I'll be playing water tennis for a while. That's a sport, right?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Little Thumb Twiddling

It's been almost a week since my last post. Sorry about that. I've had some chaos to contend with, not to mention the garden never gets a chance to dry out so there's not much to do. And I'm afraid I won't be doing a lot of gardening for the next couple of weeks, either.

I've had a strained muscle in my back for a couple of months. I won't bore you with too many details but essentially what happened is it was almost completely better and then it wasn't. It needs about two weeks of rest which I haven't been able to give it. I have just now come into a position where I am able to quit a physically demanding job, allowing me to rest my back and, I hope, finally fix the muscle strain for good.

I said I wouldn't bore you with too many details and then I just did. The point is gardening is not a good thing for me to be doing right now. That doesn't mean I won't blog, though. I'll still be checking on the garden and keeping you guys updated on how things are looking. And I'm not a complete invalid. I can still wrangle a hose and do simple things like that. But I probably won't be planting the beans, cucumbers, and squash for a few weeks. Hang in there. I'll try to keep you entertained.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Muddy Cabbages and New Tomatoes

I ventured down to the lower garden yesterday and managed to tiptoe my way through the still slightly flooded gate. The lettuce and peas made it through the deluge unscathed and I think most of the cabbage family plants will pull through as well. Their lowest leaves have yellowed and a few of the smallest might not make it but there are plenty, so I'm not concerned.

I have officially decided that there is no spinach in that garden. I don't know what happened to it but it's just not there. That row is just a weed patch because I've pulled or sprayed the weeds everywhere else in the garden but I wanted to protect my nonexistent spinach.

Speaking of weeds, though, except for the patch where the spinach is supposed to be, they're almost entirely gone or shriveled up. I think a combination of weedkiller, pulling, and flooding did them in. And speaking of spinach, at least the spinach in the upper garden is doing well.

And, to overuse a phrase, speaking of the the upper garden, I planted my tomatoes there when I finished squelching through the mud of the lower garden. I have four tomato plants, all of different varieties, and I planted them to one side of the rest of the garden. Grandma recommended planting them on their sides and instead of staking them, using a bed of leaves to keep them off the ground. As the leaves rot and settle I will replace them with fresh ones. I guess this is just another, equally effective way of supporting tomatoes. Staking works too. Grandma just happens to have a bunch of bags of leaves left over from the fall, so why not?

This picture of the tomatoes is not very good because I took it with my phone, but you get the idea.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sometimes My Brain Doesn't Work

Yesterday I was weeding (see the post entitled "Weeding Buddy") and set a pile of yard waste bags on top of my car thinking I would move them to the garage next time I made a trip in that direction. I promptly forgot I had put them there until I had gone inside for the day and when I looked through the sliding glass door and saw them still sitting on the car I decided it wasn't going to rain and I would deal with them later.

I kept forgetting about them and this morning that thing that only happens in sitcoms happened. I somehow completely blocked them out of my field of vision as I got into my car, backed out of the driveway, and drove to an appointment.

My guess is some enterprising neighbor has found a few free yard waste bags in the road this morning, but I'll retrace a few blocks of my route just to make sure. After that I think I'll be making a trip to the hardware store.

It's a good thing I don't have children.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Weeding Buddy

Instead of going over to the vegetable garden today I opted to do some weeding at home. Out of a particularly dense patch of some nasty stuff I was pulling leaped a tree frog.
I think it must not have been full grown because it was tiny. It also didn't seem to have too much interest in hopping away because it stuck around long enough for me to go inside and get my camera and then snap lots pictures. Maybe I just terrified it so much that it had to stop and take a breather.
You can find some delightful things in your front yard if you look.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

It's Time to Celebrate

I'm happy to announce that Gardening Upstream has reached 500 pageviews! That may not seem like much but I'm happy with it. Keep visiting folks!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Eggplants and Peppers

The lower garden was still flooded yesterday but I was able to get quite a bit done in the upper garden. I planted as many pepper and eggplant seedlings as I could, though there wasn't room for all of them. Eggplants need a lot of space and I have lettuce, spinach, and carrots growing there right now as well. Anybody else want some pepper or eggplant seedlings?

I gave them all some Miracle-Gro® and the upper garden is now looking splendid. I just have to figure out what I'm going to do with all those eggplants once they start bearing fruit, because I have I think nine of them and they're not exactly my favorite vegetable. Oh, well. That's a bridge to cross later.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Drowning Plants

Here's the good news: My mom finally found the spray I've been looking for for the cabbage plants. Bachman's was the place to go, it turns out.

Here's the bad news: I couldn't spray because I couldn't even get in the garden. It's flooded. When Grandma told me my peas were underwater I envisioned a little puddle in the lowest part of the garden that would evaporate in a matter of hours. I didn't picture this:
Ironically, you can see the hose in the right hand corner. I won't be needing that for a while. It looks less catastrophic from this angle:
Really less than half of the garden is flooded, and it's mostly the new plants (hardly the peas at all, actually), and they're much bigger and presumably hardier. The whole yard is inundated though, so it may take a while for the waters to recede. Grandma has a pond and off through a little wooded area is a lake that I think belongs to the neighboring golf course. There's so much water that the lake and the pond are currently adjoined. This isn't the best picture, but the trees in the foreground are where the border of the pond is supposed to be and the reflective patch in the background on the left is the lake:
Basically, I wondered if it might be wise to start building an ark. And as soon as I left it started pouring. Ugh. Weather. On a happier note, the spinach in the upper garden is growing nicely:

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lots of Planting

The new plants (and some thistle)
Yesterday I planted cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and onions. It was a lot of fun to get into the routine of hoe, dig, plant, mark, repeat. Everything looks good but the cabbage family plants need to be sprayed with a repellant for the cabbage butterfly (don't freak out, it's an environmentally friendly spray that's pest specific). I looked at a garden store and two hardware stores today and couldn't find it, so that was annoying. I'll try Bachman's tomorrow.

Aside from not being sprayed I think everything went well with the planting. The garden is really starting to shape up. And now my rows are marked! After all the rain we've had, though, Grandma says the peas are underwater, so I hope that doesn't last too long. We're a far cry from where we were a month ago when we were praying for a few drops of rain.
I couldn't resist another pea picture. They're just so cute!
This shows how tiny the lettuce is.
The whole garden (notice the row markers)
I promised you lots of pictures, so here they are.

Friday, May 4, 2012


It was a full day in the garden. I spent a little time in the greenhouse transplanting the rest of the pepper and eggplant seedlings, but mostly I was outside on this glorious day.

Grandma and I discovered some spinach in the upper garden. I should say, it's most likely spinach, though when I planted it I still didn't have row markers so I'm a little unsure. The days of guesswork are over, though, because Grandma picked up some paint stir-sticks at the hardware store today (they're free, as opposed to row markers, which are a dollar a piece) and I dutifully marked everything I've planted so far as best as I can remember.

Mostly I spent the day weeding in the lower garden. This was a bit of an adventure because the weeds are big and the vegetables are sort of hard to see sometimes. The peas are pretty obvious. They're in two rows and they've really taken off. But the lettuce is still miniscule and I had to try very hard not to step on it or pull it up with a clump of weeds as collateral damage. And the spinach. Oh, the spinach. It should be between the lettuce and the peas. Grandma and I crouched down on our hands and knees, our noses four inches from the ground trying to find something growing in a row. Grandma even knows what spinach should look like. She found two little plants that may or may not be spinach. So I pulled things around the area that are definitely not spinach in the hope that it's inconspicuously growing somewhere, but not too good at disguising itself as a weed. Because then it has probably been wadded up in my fist and thrown into a pile in the corner. Woops.

I also prepared the rest of the garden for my cabbage family and onion seedlings by spraying with weedkiller. I know, enough with the weedkiller. But it's completely overgrown and there's not much else I can do if I want my plants to have a fighting chance. Next year after another tilling things should be a lot easier. Anyhow, tomorrow I'm going to plant the cabbage family and onion seedlings.

I'm sorry. This post is way too long. I'll make up for it tomorrow with lots of pictures.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A New Composter

It's not much to look at, but it gets the job done.
I've been a little frazzled as of late and therefore failed to mention that about a week ago my household invested in a composter. It's something we've been talking about doing for a while and it seemed like a good time now that I have the vegetable garden. We won't actually get any compost for a couple of months because it takes time for the process to get going, and I won't use it exclusively on the vegetables (there are plants here at home that would benefit from it as well), but my garden may be enriched by a little compost before too long.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Allow Me to Introduce the Cabbage Family

My grandma and I decided early on in this adventure that to make things easier I wouldn't plant absolutely everything from seed. Grandma recommended I purchase cabbage family seedlings (the cabbage family consisting of cabbage, brussels sprouts, brocolli, cauliflower, and a few other things) when the time came (the time being mid-April).

Mid-April came and went and I had no cabbage family seedlings. I finally made it to the Minneapolis farmers market yesterday, and considering it was only the end of April I figured I hadn't done too badly. Except I walked through the entire market twice and no one had any seedlings. One stand had some Asian hot pepper seedlings, but I have enough peppers, thanks.

So today I went to Home Depot and picked up some red cabbage, brussels sprouts, brocolli, and cauliflower seedlings, as well as yellow onion seedlings for good measure. I know what you're thinking. I just put my coolness in a picnic basket and sent it over Minnehaha Falls for typing the words "Home" and "Depot" in the same sentence. But they have great prices and at least I tried the farmers market first.

It will be a few days before I get my cabbages and co. in the ground. I hope they will forgive me for being a little late. And I hope my organic, Seeds of Change plants don't shun them for being from a big box store.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Slow Week

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. I've been busy with work, job interviews, and applications and have been forced to put the garden on a back burner. I hope to get away from the desk more next week. Thanks for your patience.

I do have one bit of news, though. Grandma discovered a row of lettuce growing in the lower garden!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Visualize Whirled Peas

For the first time I am certain something is growing in the lower garden. Something I actually planted, that is. I saw pea sprouts yesterday. You can't mistake a pea for anything else. The "spinach" I saw the other day is beginning to look suspiciously like every other weed and Grandma's been out of town so I can't ask her about it. But the peas--I know those are peas.

I wish I could put into words how rewarding this is. I've been crouching in the garden for weeks, peering at the soil and hoping to see something good rising up from what I sewed. For a number of reasons I won't go into, I've been receiving lessons in patience this year, and for the most part I've been a poor student. It's nice to have a reward every once in a while. Like adorable little pea plants!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Please...Take My Seedlings

I have way more seedlings than I can possibly plant so if you want some, they're yours. I'd feel bad having to kill the little buggers. Even if you don't like eggplants or peppers, they're both beautiful plants, so you can just have them to look at. I've included a description (from the Seeds of Change catalog) for each type of seedling I'm trying to get rid of:

Vittoria eggplant: "Early maturing and productive...purple black, cylindrical fruits with mild flavor and firm texture. Great for slicing and grilling or pan frying."

Rosa Bianca eggplant (heirloom): "A...white and pink blushed Italian variety with a delicate, mild flavor, creamy consistency, and no bitterness. Considered one of the best by gourmets and gardeners alike."

Orion f-1 pepper: "Abundant, large green to red, blocky bells with thick walls...Widely adapted and BLS resistant."

Purple beauty pepper: "...Ready to eat when the fruits turn a stunning, deep purple with a green undertone. Crisp, succulent...thick-walled fruit. Very productive."

Let me know if you want a seedling or two!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Today I raked the rest of the Pro-Mix®, which was most of a bag, into the upper garden plot and smoothed out the soil. Then I got a row of carrots planted at last. I also planted another row of lettuce and spinach since the lettuce and spinach I planted in the lower garden (if it ever comes up) will all be ready at once and this row will provide a second crop.

I don't want to get too excited, but I think I saw two spinach seedlings in the lower garden. But no sign of any peas or lettuce as far as I can tell.

My lonely gardening buddy was back again today. Here's a better picture of him.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Transplantation Day

Yesterday we transplanted most of the seedlings into new containers--the ones I filled with Pro-mix® the other day. There are a few stragglers that don't have their second set of leaves yet, so we left those behind to grow a little more.

It was interesting to see which varieties are thriving and which are struggling. The orion f-1 peppers are growing like crazy. I transplanted them into three containers because they're so healthy. On the other hand, there were only three aconcagua pepper seedlings far enough along to transplant, and several of the ones I didn't move only have one cotyledon, so they won't develop.

It was cold and miserable so I didn't work outside much. My seedlings and I were both grateful for the greenhouse.

Monday, April 16, 2012


My neighbors' poor tulips after the storm.
Last night we got a magnificent thunderstorm, delivering much needed rain, along with a pummeling for defenseless plants. A few tornadoes even touched down west of here. I wasn't too worried since the only plants I have above ground so far are in the greenhouse, and the rain was a good thing.

This morning I looked out and had to blink a few times because, even though I've lived in Minnesota my whole life and shouldn't be shocked to see anything falling from the sky, I wasn't expecting to see snow. SNOW. Sometimes I wonder why I live in this state. We've had the balmiest of springs and now on April 16th it snows. Well, you know what karma is.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Preparing the Upper Garden

I don't know if I've made this clear in previous posts, but I'm really working with two gardens: the fenced-in plot where the lettuce, spinach and peas are supposedly growing (though there's no sign of them yet) and a smaller plot at the top of the hill in the middle of some annual flowers, herbs, and ornamental trees. The peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes will go in the upper garden because Grandma has always planted them there and they seem to like it. I hope to get some carrots in here as well before too long.

The newly spaded upper garden.
Today I got to do some of the spading I had been hoping for. It wasn't feasible for me to tackle the lower garden since the prairie had overtaken it so thoroughly, but the top of the hill was in good enough shape for me to spade by hand. I turned the soil in preparation for the seedlings which are still growing in the greenhouse.

Speaking of those seedlings, I got them all ready for transplantation too. Grandma showed me how that's done, the most important part being that one should always handle a seedling by the cotyledon (the primary leaf), never by the stem. And she uses a chopstick to finagle the roots out until it comes up.

We didn't do any transplanting yet because most of the seedlings aren't quite ready. But I filled containers with Pro-mix® and put them in a water-filled tray so they're set to go as soon as the seedlings are.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Nasal Woes

I had planned on planting carrots today but I have a cold and, while I feel fine, I can't be more than an arm's length away from a Kleenex box. The carrots will have to wait. Check back in a few days when I'm free from my bondage.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Watering Day

It turns out those promising seedlings I found yesterday are in fact not lettuce. They're "way too enthusiastic" according to my grandma. So it looks like nothing has sprouted yet. I hoed away at a few grasses and things that are clearly not plants I want, avoiding what I hope are my rows.

Since we haven't had rain for a while, the garden needed watering. Because it's situated at the bottom of a hill it stays well irrigated and I didn't have to dig very deep to find damp soil, but it's been a dry spring.

During my work today a very persistent song sparrow (I think) accompanied me with a lovely tune. He was singing from the same spot last week too. Must be lonely. I hope he finds his girl soon.

By the way, I've made it easier to subscribe to posts, if you'll be so good as to check out the subscription bar on the right-hand side. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Today I learned what happens when you don't mark your rows. Being without row markers when I planted my lettuce, spinach, and peas, I blithely assumed that my faulty memory and the disturbed ground would be enough to tell me where everything was.

I went to the garden to see if anything had sprouted and discovered that not only had the rows of uplifted earth settled to look just like the surrounding soil, but also all kinds of random bits of grass and other weeds had begun to sprout, disguising any desirable vegetables that might be growing among them. I know what creeping charlie and dandelions look like, but I don't trust myself to distinguish rouge de grenoblouse lettuce from crab grass.

Several of these guys (at right) were growing in a sort of row-like fashion and look to be the right color, so I'm hoping this is lettuce. I might have seen some spinach too, but that's just a guess. Grandma wasn't home, and I seem to turn as helpless as a beached jellyfish without her, so I'll have to wait until she's around to identify things for certain.

On a more positive note, the peppers and eggplants continue to grow like weeds, but happily, they're not weeds at all.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Imposters

Happy Easter!

I haven't actually been over to the garden for a few days, but my grandma told me at our Easter family gathering today that the first seedlings to sprout (those cute little guys you saw in the picture in my last post) were not peppers at all, but weeds. I probably should have realized this immediately since they were growing in a clump rather than the rows in which I planted them, but I guess I just assumed I dropped a few seeds too close to each other. No matter. The actual aconcagua peppers are sprouting, along with both eggplant varieties, the orion f-1 peppers, and even our "mixed pepper" container, which is planted with a variety of mostly hot pepper seeds that Grandma had left over from previous planting years. We weren't sure those would sprout at all, but they seem to be holding their own.

So all is well in the garden today, despite the weeds' brief movement to occupy the strawberry containers.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Early Pictures

You guys are due for some pictures, so I took a few shots today. On the right are the strawberry containers with pepper and eggplant seeds. Grandma says this is the best way to start the warmer season plants. They're on a heating mat in the greenhouse right now. The reason we haven't started tomatoes is because Grandma gets those from the Edina Garden Club (or something like that) so I didn't buy any.
Here are the aconcagua pepper seedlings, a "non-bell sweet pepper" that is "mildly peppery at both the immature green and ripe yellow stages," according to Seeds of Change, which is where I bought my seeds this year.
Below is what the garden looks like from the top of the hill. That's where I planted the peas, lettuce and spinach yesterday and where most of the other crops will go. The eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes will be in a separate, open garden at the top of the hill.

And this is the inside. It's not much to look at yet. We're saving the aspens in the corner and hoping the weedkiller takes care of the mulberries and the box elders. That strange greenish mound in the middle is a currant bush. But everything else is soil just waiting for seeds.
My next set of pictures should be more appetizing, or at least less brown.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The First Planting

It was a big day in the garden.

Some friends of the family who have a landscaping business, Mike and his son Dylan, came over on Sunday and tilled about two thirds of the garden, only skipping the areas covered by quaking aspens and currant bushes, which are somehow still alive after being half suffocated by prairie grasses. This left me with ample space to plant today. But first I had to make sure the weeds wouldn't storm the place.

Grandma mixed up the weedkiller, which neither of us was thrilled about using, but without it I would be fighting a losing battle. I sprayed the perimeter and a few stubborn patches of grass and some box elders within the garden. The sprayer wasn't very happy about the whole situation either and leaked all over my hand, but my skin hasn't turned strange colors so I think I'll be fine.

After that unpleasantness I got to plant the first seeds in the ground--lettuce, spinach, and peas. I think I completely messed up the spacing of the lettuce seeds because the instructions on the package confused me and Grandma wasn't nearby, but I figure the rabbits will sort that out for me by eating the majority of it. They have no idea the fence around the garden was put up to keep them out, not to give them a cozy place to live.

The spinach and the peas went in just fine, but Grandma didn't have any row markers so I have to remember where I put everything until I can pick up something to mark them with.

On a different note, some of the seedlings in the strawberry containers are beginning to come up. One little vittoria eggplant and a few aconcagua peppers are sprouting.

Now we watch the seedlings until they need to be transplanted, and keep an eye on the weeds...and the wascally wabbits.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Seeds and Strawberry Containers

I walked to Grandma's today with four strawberry containers and my brand new pair of gardening gloves. This was our first day of actual work on the garden. After rinsing the strawberry containers with a mild bleach solution to kill fungus and plugging in the heating mat, we filled the containers with seed mix (not really soil--mostly peat and nutrients and such) and planted. I filled six containers with pepper and eggplant seeds, and these will sit in the greenhouse until they germinate.

The garden itself needs to be gone over with a rototiller twice before we can plant the early crops like peas and lettuce. I wanted to spade it by hand myself but we looked at it today and there's just no way. If there weren't a fence there it would just look like a continuation of the prairie. We also scared up a couple of rabbits who were indignant that we were trespassing on their little enclosure.

I'm going to get somebody with a rototiller in there ASAP and then we can really get going in earnest. Until then, it's sitting around and waiting until my little peppers and eggplants do their thing.

A Summer Project

Waiting to hear back about job applications gets tiresome. Worse is going to bed at night without a goal in mind for the next day. Being only partially employed, I needed to find an inexpensive way to make myself productive. So I decided to resurrect my grandma's vegetable garden, having in mind the utopian ideal of spending oodles of time outdoors, keeping myself busy through the summer, and feeding not only myself but also my friends and family off the fruits of my labors.

Grandma has a portion of her backyard, which is mostly planted as tallgrass prairie, fenced off as a vegetable garden but hasn't planted it for several years. The prairie plants and the rabbits have claimed it as their own, and now I'm going to take it back.

I have one major limitation, however: my gardening experience is limited to planting a few annuals every year and occasionally growing some peppers and tomatoes in pots on the patio. I'm not quite clueless, but the clues I have are minimal.

Fortunately I have my grandma to tell me what to do, so I'm less likely to completely mess everything up. Nonetheless, this spring and summer will be a challenge and a learning experience. I hope to come away with at least a few edible rewards, and I also hope that you, my readers, will find some pleasure in following my garden, and perhaps you will learn along with me.