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    « 160. Gardening Thoughts | Main | 162. Blackberries, Black Berries, and BlackBerrys »

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008


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    This is exciting. We are growing some of the vegetables you have recommended.


    I got thin bamboo poles at the Homo Despot for $1.97 per 6 pack and tied them into teepees with cotton twine. Of course, nothing's big enough yet to be tied to them or start vining around them, but they're seated well enough at this point that I don't think they'll be toppling. At least not easily.


    Oooh I'm excited! tomatoes and chard sounds good to me! I thought I'd not be where I am this summer, but here I am. And you are saying I could still grow things to eat. That's pretty neato. I shall try it.


    That sounds like a good basic garden... oh, add snow or sugar snap peas? We had terrible groundhog problems back when the old dog was very old, mostly deaf, and apparently going blind. DH tried peeing all around the garden, even tied out some pee-soaked socks on the fencing (cattle fencing with chicken wire on the lower part), and put up a scarecrow with pee soaked socks... the buggers just dug a burrow into the center of the garden. We were going to smoke them out, but the smoke bombs said not to use in vegetable gardens. What worked... mowing the neighbor's back lawn (the groundhogs lived under her back porch and had a tunnel through the long grass directly into our garden), being out there a lot, and live-trapping one out (a funny scene, dh chasing the thing into the trap with a shovel) and sending it on its merry way to a field across the river. But the best thing? A new dog the next year.


    Hurrah! A plant-a-long! Ok, here's my 2 cents! 1) I always buy seed but plant a lot. I'd feel free to buy one seedling of each vegetable from a nursery but definitely buy lettuce seed. 2) Check with a gardening friend for plants too. I can't give my extra plants away! 3) The rabbits really only bother my plants when they are tiny & tender. This usually coincides with the bunny birth explosion. After everything gets bigger, they should be ok. Plus plants in pots on my deck are always fine as the animals don't like being close to the house. 4) Trailing cherry tomatoes make fantastic hanging baskets. Put a little basil and lettuce in there too.


    We haven't done an at home garden for two years - since we joined the CSA. We stopped because we had a lot of problems with borers on the squash and blossom end rot on the tomatoes. I found it so frustrating to put so much effort and time into the garden and then not harvest much because of this. I know Dale misses it, though, so this year we planted 2 containers of tomatoes for the deck. I guess that means I'm "in" on the garden-along.

    Seanna Lea

    Excellent! So, should I consider my indoor space (I am in a small condo, and need to ask permission for outdoor planting) as the dappled sun conditions?


    Claudia doesn't like cukes? What is she, not perfect or something?

    As for the garden-a-long, I'm in, having already dug the rocks out of the garden, put on lime and manure, and planted tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, basil, parsley, and a mesclun mix. At a former residence, I used to grow enough - maybe a third of an acre? - to sell at the farmer's market, but now I'm sane. Well, aside from the six cherry tomato plants I put in, I'm sane.


    It's the condo thing...we have a nice rock 'garden'. If you lived in Utah you might be loosing everything tomorrow night. We're expecting record low's the sh*ts. bleh

    Teresa C

    Hey! We are in at the Blues. We planted over the weekend, a small garden. Reading of your lettuces I had wanted to put some in, but Pete went to the garden store and was told it was too late for them. So we have the usual stuff, tomatoes, eggplant, cukes, peppers, beans, I don't know what else. Now I might get a container or two for onions or beets. I love beets. Will a mesuclan mix do well in a container?


    I'm bringing that pile of gardening books back to the library. This looks so....DOable. Thanks!


    Yay!! You are giving me just the kick in the arse I need to get my second (currently empty) raised bed started! Hopefully here in Zone 8 it's not too late to start . . .


    Speaking of critters. something likes tomato plants. I planted 4 good-sized raised-from -seed plants beside the carrots (carrots like tomatoes or so the book says) and I came out in the morning and they were completely gone. And some one kale plant was chewed on, a little. The other larger plants not touched. I tried again, this time with smaller mesh chicken wire around the bed and in the morning, those tomato plants - gone! I really do like tomatoes. Can anyone help? This is Norma's Gardening Help Line, yes?


    Love your hints on gardening. I get all excited and want to plant lots in the spring and then my husband reminds me that I am not the best at weeding. So I container garden. Last year, I built my own self-watering planter after seeing the one my niece has. It works great. I'm using it again this year (of course) but this time, 2 cherry tomato plants instead of 6. I also planted herbs in an old strawberry pot for the deck.Who knows, I might build another container.
    Here's the location for the info on building a self-watering container.


    Okay, okay... if I get brave, I will go to Gardener Supply this weekend after WWKIP day at City Hall Park (are you going?) and see if I can rassle me up a cucumber plant. I bet I can squish it in under my neighbor's deck. It will get some sun, and it won't kill me if it dies off a bit.

    IF I get brave. :)

    Maybe some beans, too. It would be awesome to be giving Lucy home grown, home made baby beans by the end of the summer. Completely and totally awesome.


    Yayyy Norma! Add some photos, and you may have a book here! With the econmy going the way it is, starter vegetable gardens may become the rule next year.


    I am IN. Have my two 5 x 10 beds planted along with a couple of window boxes and many pots.

    Regarding the pests, I do a chicken wire fence anchorerd by posts. Essential, as we have woodchucks, deer and other critters.

    Marcia  Cooke

    I dragged out my old New Victory Garden book yesterday and found some interesting, albeit "old fashioned" ideas. I'm going to replant peas, lettuce and spinach for sure come July for fall crops. Am trying floating row cover which (so far) seems to be keeping things out of the beds. Still haven't planted any beans but the pole beans!


    I finally decided this year that I at least needed to have fresh tomatoes. We're in a townhouse and can't do anything with the yard area but look at it and play on it, so digging a garden is right out. :( I put a cherry tomato plant in a pot a couple of weeks ago and I now have two tiny little tomatoes on it, and about 10 blossoms that are dying off and will hopefully become more tomatoes. I also have cilantro and basil planted in window boxes in the kitchen window. They are doing well, and the bunnies love that I can pluck a few leaves off as treats during the day.


    cherry tomatoes here i come. Thanks for the info. Knew it but needed a kick in the ass. cukes are SO yummy off the vine.


    Awesome! I have no desire to garden, but my husband and I have a deal - if he does the gardening thing, I'll do the canning thing. His family makes the BEST pickle relish (I have been known to eat it with a spoon - forget the hotdog), so the cucumbers are of special interest! I've sent him your blog addy. :)


    I so want to play!!!!!
    I'm guessing that putting things in the garden this weekend, loving them for 10 days, and then driving off for a month will not be conducive to achieving food in August, will it?
    If you think it can be done as long as someone waters.... I'll try! I love the thought of fresh bell peppers, or zucchini, or tomatoes, or ... oh my!


    I just printed out this whole post. I'm soooooooo all over this project, Norma!! Containers for me, thinking zucchini and beans.


    6 hours of sun, hmmm?.....That puts my deck and backyard right out of the running.

    I am totally willing, however, to grow tomatoes, beets (love them) and maybe lettuce and onions in the (empty) flower bed directly in front of my front walk. Cucumbers are not motivating me, mate. Would kale work?

    So, now the question is, put a container in that space or plant directly in the ground? I'm guessing a tall container right in front of my front door might be the best idea for 1) keeping bunnies from nibbling and 2) keeping whatever lawn fertilizer the hubby uses out of my veggies.


    Okay, I've got another one for you--how about suggestions for the apartment? I don't have any outdoor space but would love to grow something. Maybe some suggestions for herbs that would do well under those conditions (since I think any vegetables are simply a dream). Thanks!


    Elizabeth, I had the same problem with tomatoes last year. Birds were taking entire branches off the plants, even before they flowered. We ended up having to use the mesh for protecting berries.


    Hi Norma, I wanted to thank you for the posts on "unusual" greens lately. I was inspired to pick up some rapini from the market on Saturday, something I've never cooked or eaten before. I blanched the chopped stems/crowns for a minute and a half, then cooked them briefly in oil with the leaves, garlic, onions, red pepper flakes and a bit of lemon peel. Fantastic!! I threw what I didn't eat immediately into a risotto and had that turn out fabulous too.


    Warning about cherry tomatoes: Plant 2 of them. Every time I went out to pick them, I ended up eating them ALL and none ever made it into the house. Picking from 2 plants will hopefully leave a few left over for the salad this year....


    Great post, Norma.

    A tip for bean poles is to tie them at your eye level. Otherwise, you may end up needing a step ladder to pick them. That's get old fast. Trust me.

    Zone 3. Jeez... Thank you so much for not hating me over here in Zone 9, The Norma. XO


    For cheap containers, here's a tip - we had been using these big old gray storage bins (like you would use to store clothes in the attic) for recycling bins. After a few seasons, they've gotten some sun damage and didn't want to be dragged about. So we filled 'em up with dirt, drilled holes in the bottom, and put tomatoes in them. The best part is that each bin was $2-3 a couple of years ago. I'm definitely getting my money's worth on those.

    If you're planting on a balcony or deck, and planting a lot (I have potatoes, onions, carrots, 25 tomatoes, horseradish, and wheat on my deck) you'll want to ask your gardening center for a lightweight mix. I've been using the Lambert Pro mix. It has some drawbacks (too much peat to be environmentally friendly, and fertilizer instead of compost) but it beats having the deck collapse from the weight.


    ok, i want to grow tomatoes. and can i grow herbs too? especially cilantro?

    i don't have time to work on this until the weekend. is that ok?


    and i'm with claudia. cukes are crap.


    We're beginners at my place, too, although we're on our 3rd year and have had some success with tomatoes, mesclun mix, & carrots. I reseed cilantro all summer (throw a few seeds in the tomato bed every week) and have had good luck with basil, too. I must admit that I didn't enjoy it all much the first year, but this year I was actually anxious to get started. ;)


    for the person looking for apartment ideas - windowbox herbs are easy peasy to grow, delicious to eat, and will make your neighbors green with envy. seriously, i grew some ginormous basil from my window sill in NYC that fed the entire building. i just used a cheapo plastic window box from the hardware store and starts from the farmers' market - basil, oregano, and thyme are my go-to trio. and they can all be planted in the same window box without overwhelming each other.

    Katie B.

    *cry* can we do this next year, too? I do have a couple of cherry tomatoes and a parsley out, but I haven't been to see them in... weeks. And it's too cold and rainy today for me to want to take the LO out, even in a wrap - and the Mr doesn't do the gardening stuffs. >.<

    But next year I hope to be able to do it better!


    This year I'm growing tomatoes, squash, and a few herbs in containers in my tiny apartment backyard. So far the only real success has been the tomatoes- they get "dry-farmed" by default since I'm a lazy waterer, and they taste fantastic. I had tons of cilantro and green onions earlier, but they've long since bolted.

    I'm just trying not to get more ambitious (read: spend too much money) on gardening right now, since I travel a lot and the plants get neglected. Tomatoes are tough as hell once they get a little bit established, and neglect makes them tastier...can't go wrong with that. Herbs are great to have, but I find them to be much higher maintenence, especially here in LA where the sun is scorching.


    Great tutorial! I emailed your favorite biker/laywer/knitter/spinner last night after I saw her comment. I'll put here what I told her. I highly recommend the following books to everyone, especially those limited to containers like I am: The Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food by Tanya Denckla and McGee & Stuckey's Bountiful Container: Create Container Gardens of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Edible Flowers. The latter is not strictly organic, but they do mention organic practices and why they are a good idea.


    I'm in! I have a cherry tomato plant and two peppers on the balcony!


    ::sigh:: I have garden envy. Any tips for full-on shade gardening - the kind that doesn't even grow lettuce well?

    Dont' forget all those edible flowers. Nice pretty additions to the salad goodies!


    recycle plastic yogurt cups- plant seeds in them for the windowsill.
    I had great success with chives and parsley, which are now outside in larger containers on the deck. They grow just as well indoors near a sunny window. As long as you keep cutting them and using them in your cooking they keep growing. This year I will experiment keeping the chives going thru the winter. They are great cut up in most everything.
    Thanks to Jackie for the info about this gardening blog.

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