Thursday, November 8, 2012

Gardening - its pleasures & challenges

If you look at the pictures of my garden on this blog, it might seem like a perfect garden flourishing well with absolutely no problems. But like any gardener, I face a lot of challenges in my garden.

My backyard is a place where I LOVE to spend a lot of time. Every morning after my kids are off to school,  I spend some time in my garden, walking thru each & every part of it, inspecting all my plants to make sure that they are growing well. What can give you more joy & pleasure than seeing your plants growing & producing for your family? After school hours, my kids join me in helping me around my garden. They love to see when new changes have occured in my garden - for eg: a ripe tomato or beans & okra that are ready to pick.

But with all the pleasure, comes a lot of challenges. First, the weather - sometimes the extreme heat & at other times, the sudden drop in temperature are obstacles preventing the plants from producing well.
Second, the bugs - In several occasions, I've had seedlings "disappear overnight"....nice healthy seedlings of spinach, carrots & other tiny seedlings which grow nicely until they are about 2-3in high & then suddenly disappear overnight. This is in spite of having a 3 ft chicken wire around them. Its so frustrating to wake up in the morning & see that ur seedlings have been eaten up by bugs. On the advice of my local garden store associate, I used diluted dish wash soap to spray my plants. It didn't work. Neither did spraying them with Neem oil...the bugs just kept getting at my plants anyway. Now I've almost given up on my spinach & carrots.



The third & worst of all - A "rabbit". I had mentioned in an earlier post about a rabbit getting into my vegetable patch. It keep happening often & keep damaging my plants. My garden store associate suggested spraying the plants with diluted hot pepper sauce. I'm going to try that & see if it works with the rabbits.
There was an instance where beautiful my store bought Marigold plants with lots of flowers on them were completely chewed down by these rabbits. Now only the stubs remain.

But even with all these challenges, I love my garden & am planning to expand it a little more next season hoping that Mother Nature with bless us with lots of produce for our family.

I hope this blog post has not discouraged anyone from starting a garden. Despite all the challenges, gardening is a wonderful way to use your time fruitfully. Nothing more rewarding that see your basket fill up with all the vegetables & fruits picked fresh from your own yard.

If you don't have a garden space yet, start one right away & enjoy ur produce Fresh from your Garden!!!

Here are some pics of my beautiful plants still producing....& some Marigold plants started from seed...I have placed them on the window ledge to protect them from the rabbits.



Friday, October 26, 2012

Fall Planting - Growing Garlic

I had mentioned in an earlier post about "Fall Planting" - vegetables & herbs that like the cooler weather are planted during spring & fall.

I planted some sugar peas, spinach, carrots, cauliflower, onions & garlic in late summer-early fall ( end of Aug - early Sep). Unfortunately my cauliflower seedlings were eaten up by bugs & I couldn't find more seeds in my nearest garden center. When I found some beetroot seeds, I decided to try those & they germinated beautifully, but soon they got eaten by bugs too. Same thing happened with my spinach too.

I tried using Neem Oil & diluted dish wash soap to spray on the plants to get rid of my bugs. Both neither of these helped.

Anyway, this post was about growing garlic. Garlic is a wonderful bulb that enhances the flavor of your dishes. I use a lot of garlic at home in most of my dishes. So I decided to trying growing some this year.
They are very easy to plant & grow. They hardly require any care.

Garlic should be planted in well drained, rich soil in a sunny location. Choose some big & healthy (without any black spots) garlic from your grocery store. The bigger the cloves, the bigger the garlic bulb produced. To plant, separate a garlic pod into cloves with the skin intact. If the skin is damaged it could lead to fungal infections. Place each clove into a hole or furrow with the root side down & pointed side up. Loosely cover with soil, water lightly & watch the sprouts grow. You can see the sprouts in a week to 10 days. Each clove will produce a whole new garlic bulb.
This pic was taken 7-10 days after the garlic cloves were planted 

Spacing : Each clove should be placed 6-8 inches apart to help the bulb spread out & grow big.



Bittergourd plants spread on the chicken wire around my garlic patch    

Water lightly once the sprouts appear. Over-watering can promote fungal growth. The garlic shoots must be fertilized in spring when most of the growth occurs.

In spring the garlic shoots will start to flower. Wait for the flowers to die & the leaves to die (turn brown) back a little around June - July. This is when the garlic is ready for harvest. Carefully dig up your bulbs without damaging them.

Then tie the garlic together in bundles & hang them to dry for a few weeks in a shaded, drafty area.
When the garlic is dry, trim the roots without damaging the skin. Store in recycled onion or garlic bags.

Monday, September 24, 2012

My veggie patch & a rabbit!!!

Guess what I found inside my fenced in (with chicken wire) vegetable patch when we came back after a 2 day vacation - a baby rabbit!!!!
I was eager to see the changes/developments on my plants after ignoring them for two days & what do i see?  A little bunny scampering inside my vegetable patch. I wonder how it got in there. We have protected our vegetable patches with 2 ft high chicken wire, but I guess it found a small gap & burrowed under the wire to get in there. It took us almost 20-30 mins to get it out of there. We didnt want to touch it coz it was a wild rabbit & we were not sure how safe it would be to touch them....kept chasing it till in desperation it jumped & climbed over the chicken wire & escaped.(didnt get a pic of the rabbit...we just wanted it out of the patch ASAP!!!)

Anyway, am glad none of my plants were harmed, neither was the rabbit. The only idea was to get it out unharmed so that it wouldn't damage any of my plants.
But am happy to have got a good produce from my plants in these days.

Sharing some pics...

Asian  String  Beans

Okra

Ist ripe tomato of the season

Bittergourds in the making

Yesterday's pick - Sep 23rd

Today's pick - Sep 24th


Garlic Patch 
Green Bell Peppers

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

My first pick & more...

This season's first pick - Asian string bean

Ready to be picked yet?

& more....




More  String  Beans...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fall Gardening


It is time to start planting your fall vegetables or cool - season vegetables. Some of the vegetables that like the cool weather are broccoli, cauliflower, peas, spinach, onions, garlic, potatoes, lettuce, mustard & cabbage. If the weather in your area is still quite warm/hot, you may want to start sowing your seeds indoors & transplant them when the weather gets cooler. If you have nice cool weather, you can directly plant them in the soil. Take care to water them more than once a day if the weather starts to warm up.

I started a little patch & planted some red onions & carrot seeds in the soil today. Planning to plant garlic, spinach, cauliflower & some peas in the next few days.

Here's a "time window" to plant your fall vegetables in zone 8

Beans - 8/1 - 9/1 (lima beans 7/15 - 8/15)Muskmelon (Cantaloupe) - 7/15 - 8/1
Beets - 9/1 - 10/15Mustard - 9/15 - 10/15
Broccoli plants - 8/1 - 9/15Parsley - 8/15 - 10/1
Brussels sprouts - 8/1 - 10/1Peas, English - 8/15 - 9/15
Cabbage plants - 8/15 - 9/15Peas, Southern - 7/1 - 8/1
Carrots - 8/15 - 10/15Pepper plants - 7/1 - 8/1
Cauliflower plants - 8/15 - 9/15Potatoes, Irish - 8/15 - 9/15
Chard, Swiss - 8/1 - 10/15Pumpkin - 7/1 - 8/1
Collard/Kale - 8/15 - 10/1Radish - 9/15 - 10/15
Corn, Sweet - 8/1 - 8/15Spinach - 9/1 - 10/15
Cucumber - 8/1 - 9/1Squash, Summer - 7/15 - 8/15
Eggplant plants - 7/15 - 8/1Squash, Winter - 7/1 - 7/15
Garlic - 9/1 - 10/15Tomato plants - 7/15 - 8/1
Kohlrabi - 8/15 - 9/15Turnips - 10/1 - 11/1
Lettuce (leaf) - 9/15 - 10/15Watermelon - 7/1 - 8/1

Timing is very important for a successful fall garden. Crops sensitive to the cold need to planted  ahead of time so that it matures before the weather turns cold. Also, heat sensitive plants have to be planted accordingly to avoid any heat but making sure the plant has enough time to grow before the first frost.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Composting

We carelessly throw away table scraps everyday, but these scraps can be really beneficial. Instead of throwing them in the garbage can, we can convert them into compost that will enrich the soil in our garden.

Composting is simple & is a way of recycling our food waste.

So, what exactly can be composted? 

Fruits & Vegetables  - peels & cores
Coffee grinds
Tea bags or used tea leaves
Egg Shells (rinsed & crushed)
Rice & Pasta
Stale Bread
Grass clippings
Dried flowers & plant clippings
dried leaves
shredded newspaper ( skip the colored paper as they have harmful dyes )

Keep a container with a lid in your kitchen to collect all your food scraps.

The method is to use two earthen pots, one a little bigger than the other. The hole at the bottom of the smaller pot needs be covered with a piece of rock. Place the bigger pot on top of the smaller one ( the bottom part of the bigger pot should cover the mouth of the smaller one).

Then place a layer of shredded newspaper & grass clippings in your bigger pot.

Once your container in the kitchen is filled with scraps, empty 1/2 of it onto the layer of newspaper & grass clippings. Layer with more shredded newspaper & grass clippings. Add the rest of the food scraps on top. Slowly mix everything together. The food scraps make the nitrogen layer & newspaper, grass clippings are carbon. The carbon layer should be added above & beneath the food scraps.

Loosely cover this mixture with a piece of wood or some plastic to avoid attracting pests. Mix every few days to provide oxygen to the pile which helps the ingredients break down. Your pile should always be moist, but make sure that it is NOT soaking wet !!!

Place this in a warm sunny location for the composting to be faster.

Monday, July 2, 2012

From container to ground

I've been growing veggies in containers for the last 2 yrs. From this year we have some ground to work with & made a little vegetable garden patch.

After many days of hard work & getting rid of some of the lawn, we finally managed to get some of the plants into the ground. We used some garden soil & compost as suggested by the person at the nearest garden center.
& also used dried grass clippings to mulch the plants.

The seeds were planted into small peat pots & later transferred into yogurt containers this spring. Most of them started to outgrow their containers....& some of them dried out completely & died. So, I planted whatever was left of my spring container garden & sowed other seeds directly into the ground. We'll hopefully get some good produce before the end of the season.

First  flower  on my  Bell Pepper plant

Cucumber  Plants


Mango  (still  in a  container)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mango Plant !!!!!!!

Last year I planted a seed from a store bought apple & it sprouted!!! When it grew almost 5-6 inches in height, we had to move & I passed on the plant to a very good friend of my mother. Unfortunately she had to go out of town for a longer period of time & the plant died. Even if it would have grown well I guess it would be difficult for a single apple tree to produce fruit. From what I understand, an apple tree requires cross- pollination to produce fruit. So there must atleast 2 trees near each other for the pollination to occur & for fruits to be produced.

But in tha case of a mango, I read that one tree can produce fruit. I decided to try & plant a mango seed.

I used a store bought mango. After peeling & using the pulp, I carefully washed & cleaned the pit. Using a butter knife, I carefully split open the hard shell (outer cover) of the mango pit. Inside was a big bean-like seed.

I planted this seed into a medium sized pot filled with potting mix. After watering generously, I covered the mouth of the pot with plastic wrap & used an elastic to hold it in place. Covering with the plastic wrap will create a greenhouse effect & help the seedling sprout faster. Take care to keep the soil moist at all times & then cover again with the plastic wrap till the seedling emerges from the soil.

Now my plant is almost 8-10 inches tall.




Saturday, April 28, 2012

Kitchen Garden 2012


Unfortunately my spinach didnt do well & they died completely...But I added some green onions, eggplant & cucumbers with my other veggies...









Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Garden/Patio 2012


Here I have started some tomatoes, spinach, cilantro & green bell peppers...


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