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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Magical Mulch

What a different mulch makes!  Its truly amazing the transformation my novice garden has undergone with a simple layer of mulch.  It…actually…looks…GOOD!

Mulched Tomatoes

Mulched Tomatoes

I also uprooted the zucchini corpses and planted some broccoli.  It looks much prettier!

Broccoli

beautiful broccoli

beautiful broccoli

And while I was at it, I planted the eggplant and butternut squash.  The squash is still very little, I hope it fares well outside.

Eggplant

Eggplant

Baby Butternut

Baby Butternut

We are just pleased as punch with how the mulch has transformed the garden.  I am glad we took advantage of the few hours of sunlight to work outside.  It has been so rainy here with more to come.  Its what Spring is all about!

south garden

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The Garden

The Garden

The day has come.  Some plants are finally IN THE GROUND.  Such excitement around the homestead.  Now here, I must be completely honest.  The seedling project has not worked out well.  It makes me so sad that my time and energy has gone down in flames, but I’m not gonna sugar-coat it.  The seedlings did not fare well when taken out of their cushy garage dwelling.

I made an honest effort to put my zucchini plants (the ones whose stems hadn’t yet snapped, which was only 2, well, 2.5) but after a couple of Spring-time Kansas storms, those stems had also snapped.  Clearly I’m doing something wrong.  Oh boy this picture is sad.  Tips???  Please???

A Zucchini Corpse

A Zucchini Corpse

And as I mentioned before, the seedlings were not doing well in the natural sunlight.  The tomatoes were brown and wilted and I just didn’t see them coming back to life.  So we did the next best thing.  We went to our favorite local, family owned farm (that just happened to beautifully do our wedding flower arrangments) Pendleton’s, and stocked up on vegetable plants.  I was fearing the worst as far as the money we’d be spending.  We had scouted out plant prices at the local big-box hardware store and were looking at spending $3-7 per plant.  And for as many plants as I wanted, this would have run the price up pretty fast.  But Pendleton’s really came through for us.  We got beautiful tomato and pepper (many varieties of each) plants for $0.99/plant.  That’s right, less money than I’d spend at the grocery store for 1 stupid bell pepper for a whole, big, beautiful plant!!

Tomato plant (Patio variety)

Tomato plant (Patio variety)

So although I made every effort to save money by growing my own plants from seedlings, in the end, we found another cost-saving measure.  Find a local nursery/farm/gardener and get some high quality plants for a more than reasonable price.

Tomatillos

Tomatillos

We also visited another local nursery, Sunrise Garden Center, and purchased Okra, Eggplant, Cucumbers,Tomatillos and Banana Peppers, as well as some tomato stakes and bone/blood meal.

Okra

Okra

And I got the official word from Grandma, my family’s expert gardener (and MAN did that woman have a beautiful garden) – BLOOD MEAL = BUNNY REPELLENT.

Tomatoes, Mountain Fresh Variety

Tomatoes, Mountain Fresh Variety

And last but not least, we planted three deck planters for the herbs.  Basil, Rosemary, Cilantro, Parsely, Peppermint and Thyme.

Herb Planters

Herb Planters

The Rosemary and Basil Forrest

The Rosemary and Basil Forrest

And then the rains came.  And they kept coming, with a vengance.  But my plants remained standing.  They are marvelous creatures!

The Morning Dew

The Morning Dew

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Bunny Proofing

Former Bunny Entrance

Former Bunny Entrance

OK, so clearly the marigolds are a laughable solution to our scourge of bunnies.  So we’re on to plan B (and C, and D).  I purchased a boat-load of Liquid Fence and I hope to give an honest consumer review after I use it.  However, I’ve been told that bunnies are persistent little buggers, so in addition to the liquid fence, we’ve put up a literal fence.  A cage fence.  My handy husband bought some small-opening caging from the hardware store and used it to block the holes in the fence that the bunnies were using as a back-door entry straight into our garden.  He also caged the bottom third or so of our metal fence gates.  All in all, our back yard is pretty much physically blocked off to tiny woodland creatures that would make a meal of my vegetable plants.

Ordinary Gate?

Ordinary Gate?

I really like how subtle the caging is.  I thought it would be much more obvious, but its not noticeable until you get pretty close.

Bunny-Proof Gate

Bunny-Proof Gate

I hope the bunnies don’t go running head-long into the cages!

Oh THERE it is!

Oh THERE it is!

As you can see, we used the ever-useful zip-ties to affix the cage to the fence.  Shockingly, this solution was my idea.  I go for simple crafts, not-involving power tools.

But we still plan to employ the liquid fence as well as blood meal just in case they do find a way in, which I have full faith that they will.  For those of you wondering about the blood meal, the handy husband found, during his research the morning of the bunny uprising, that blood meal is an effective bunny repellent (in its dry form).  It is also a good source of nitrogen when it breaks down in the soil.  So even if it doesn’t work to repel the bunnies, and seriously, I hope the liquid and cage fences do their job, it will act as a fertilizer anyway.

No Bunnies Admitted

No Bunnies Admitted

In other gardening news, the seedlings have been moved to the deck to become accustomed to being outside.  Its odd but I think they’re getting sunburned.  All of the leaves that had developed solely under the plant lights in the garage have turned brown, yet the new leaves developing outside are healthy and green.  We’re thinking it has something to do with the UV exposure outside that was lacking in the garage.  Anyone have experience/thoughts on this?  Clearly I have some more research to do!

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

It seems to be primarily the “seed-leaves” that are affected, and I know they’ll fall off anyway.  I’m hoping its not a big deal.

Despite how difficult and time-consuming all of this is this year, it has been very rewarding.  And I love thinking of how much easier it will be next year!

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I was feeling pretty darned good about myself yesterday.  The garden beds are nearly ready for planting, and our beautiful bunny repellent border was planted.  Marigolds…everyone told me marigolds work wonders against bunnies.

So you may imagine my suprise and horror when I peered out my bedroom window first thing this morning to find not one, not two, but THREE bunnies hanging out at the marigold border as if it was the hot new night club in town.  And I believe that one was munching on the marigold leaves.

Paparazzi Shot of the Offending Bunny

Paparazzi Shot of the Offending Bunny

Here is the ensuing conversation I had with my barely awake husband:

me: “What the, WHAT????????”

sleepy husband: “What’s going on?”

me: “There are three bunnies hanging out at my marigold border, and one is eating the flowers!!!”

(I quickly dress and throw on some shoes)

sleepy husband (yelling at me as I descend the stairs): “I bet there are some bunny repellents we can buy”

me (in my crazy voice): “I bet there are some GUNS I can buy!”

sleepy husband (yelling as I grab the camera and leave the house): “This is why there are waiting periods!”

I was incredulous.  These bunnies were essentially giving my marigold border the middle finger.

The Defiant One

The Defiant One

As I write this, my slightly less sleepy husband is researching products which we can purchase (ammo not included) that will repel the bunnies.  So far he has found a number of products both natural and chemical in nature, as well as blood meal and chicken wire.  As you can see from the above picture, there is a wonderful bunny-sized entrance straight into our garden.  We will be patching that either with a large rock or some chicken wire.  The blood meal is supposed to repel animals (maybe its bunny blood meal) and the natural product sprays employ substances such as rotten egg and garlic extract.

I will certainly keep everyone updated on what works and what doesn’t, because if we can’t learn from eachothers’ mistakes, what are we left to do? Yup, purchase pellet guns.

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Bunny Repellent Border

Sunny Marigolds

Sunny Marigolds

One piece of advice for my vegetable garden that I seem to get over and over is to plant marigolds to keep the bunnies away.  And boy do we need bunny repellent.  I see several a day and I’m sure they’re just counting down the hours until I put those tender and inviting seedlings into the ground.  And oh my, how heart broken I will be if the months of love and devotion I have given my seedlings go down in the mouth of a bunny.

New Garden

Today, my husband and I spent hours installing a border of edging stones, followed by a border of marigolds in our soon-to-be vegetable garden.  Hard work.  I worked a landscaping job the summer when I was 16.  I do NOT remember my back and knees hurting this much.  I suppose there is a difference between a 28 year old back and a 16 year old back.  Ugh.

But the backache seems worth it when you step back and look at what you’ve accomplished.

Beautiful Border

Next weekend? Installation of actual vegetable plants!  Provided that no cold weather is in the forecast.  I can’t wait!

And you can see more of the landscaping we did at our Becky&Greg blog.

more marigolds

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Ready for the World

Ready for the World

When I went to check on my growing seedlings this morning, I noticed that their plant light was burnt out.  My poor babies!  In the dark all day and and NOT PHOTOSYNTHESIZING!!!!  The horror.  How am I supposed to get lots of fresh vegetables without photosynthesis?  So after I got home from work, and before we walked to the hardware store to buy new plant lights, I brought the babies out to be nourished by the natural sun…outside…out of the garage.  They grow up so fast (sniff, sniff).

So here are some photos of their first big day in the big bad world.  I put them on tables so at least the big, bad bunnies couldn’t get to them.  And we have a lot of bunnies around here!

plants 1

Peppers, Zucchini and Canteloupe

plants 2

Tomatoes, Okra and Cucumbers

tomatoes

tomatoes

peppers

peppers

zucchini

zucchini

cucumber

cucumber

Aren’t they beauties??  I’m so proud of how well they’ve grown!  Yes, yes, its completely true.  I’m misplacing un-fulfilled maternal instincts on cucumber plants.  Hell, you should see how many thousands of cat pictures I take.  I have lots of love to give, and if it must be put in the direction of okra and tomatoes? So be it, they will be very well cared for little plants!

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Two and a Half Weeks Later

Beautiful Bell Peppers

Beautiful Bell Peppers

Its truly hard to believe that these plants are the result of only 18 days of love, nurturing and the power of Mother Nature.

Day 18

Day 18

Day 18 - Side View

Day 18 - Side View

The project for this weekend is to begin transplanting.  At the very least, I need to get the zucchini in larger and deeper pots.  The tomatoes are not far behind.  I plan to use degradable pots, I’ll let you know what kind I end up with.  I may also start some flowers up this weekend.  We need lots of marigolds to protect our tender veggies from bugs and bunnies.

And the weather this weekend is a great reminder of why its so important to start seedlings indoors.  We are predicted to have some hard-freezing and possibly snow here in Kansas.  Yuck, how long will Winter linger??

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