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.

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.