Archive for the ‘gardening’ Category

Backyard Garden: March Update

I am pleased to report that almost everything that was planted in the yard is thriving! Just the green beans are on their way out. The peas sometimes look great and sometimes look like they’re giving up. Everything else looks great!

dwarf lemon tree with many flowers

Tomatoes!

I had saved the seeds from the inside of a butternut squash a while back. There was room in the bed with the tomatoes, so I tossed them all in just to see. This is one of three sprouts I see so far.

lettuce, kale, broccoli, sweet onions, peas, green beans

blackberries, blueberries, strawberries

It’s pretty exciting for me as I see the plants growing and thriving. Can’t wait to start eating!

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Re-growing Green Onions!

I joined Pinterest. I don’t follow many people or many topics, but gardening is one of them.

I saw a pin last week that you could take green onions that have had the green cut off, plunk them in some water, and they re-grow.

I had some green onions and thought I’d give it a try. Β In less than a week, this is what we have:

 

That long stalk was the length of the one next to it. Crazy, no?

Do you know any other little gardening tips?

My New Back Yard Garden!

Over the weekend, a friend of a friend β€” who is very much into gardening β€” came over and helped me build some raised beds in the back yard.

That’s a dwarf lemon tree. In the first bed are a few types of tomatoes. Will add scallions and garlic this weekend. In the second bed, we have lettuce, broccoli, kale, green beans, peas, sweet onions. In the third bed are blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries.

I forgot that I have some seeds for butternut squash, so I’m going to plant a couple of those in a pot and see what happens.

If all goes well, I’d like to add in spinach, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes. Yum!

I’m hoping to do well maintaining my new gardens and get some good produce! I’m also growing some herbs in pots on the back porch.

The longer-term plan, assuming I can keep these things alive and fruit-bearing, is to surround the beds with concrete blocks (on their sides) and grow the marigolds and the herbs in the holes in the blocks.

And so the new gardening adventure begins!

Now to figure out how to keep the dog out of the beds…

Water Conservation

Nichol and I swapped today. Her regular Wednesday post will be here tomorrow.

I am more and more aware of water as a resource. For the most part, I try to use less than I used to. (At some point, that’ll bottom out.)*

I have read things about rain barrels, and they sound great! But I live in the desert. (I also don’t understand how standing water in a barrel doesn’t breed mosquitoes.)

I have a few plants in the back yard (though I’ve managed to kill two out of eight so far, and a third is not looking good), which has increased need for water.

Beyond water conservation, I am looking to spend as little as possible on our water bill.

Here are a few things we’ve done to reduce water usage:

Run water less.

If I’m washing the dinner dishes, I’ll wash them all without water running, then rinse them all at once. (Some of them need to be rinsed before washing, some don’t.) Unless I have a large amount of dishes to wash, I don’t even fill the sink with soapy water.

We’re not leave-the-water-on-while-brushing-teeth-or-shaving kinds of people, but if we were, that is a habit that would have gotten kicked by now.

Collect water that runs while waiting for hot.

Our kitchen sink is about 25 feet from the hot water heater, but it takes an enormously long time for the water in the sink to get hot. Instead of just running the water, we catch it in old juice bottles. (The Big Man was drinking a lot of grape juice for a while, and we saved four or five plastic jugs from that time.) I have been using this water on the plants.

This exercise was really eye-opening for me in just how much water we’d been wasting by letting the water run while waiting for it to get hot.

We have a bucket that we keep in the shower and let the water run into the bucket while we’re waiting for it to warm up. When the bucket is half or three-quarters full, The Big Man dumps it into the toilet tank on a flush, so the water runs only very briefly to refill the toilet.

Flush less.

I am drinking over 100 ounces of water every day. I am 5.5 months pregnant. There is no shortage of nearly-clear pee ’round here. I’ve taken to flushing every two or three uses, assuming liquid-only. (I do try to remember to flush if there is company coming over.)

Collect the water from the air conditioner.

It is humid here now. Well, humid relative to here. Our air conditioner is on the roof (this is pretty normal in this area). In the back yard, there is a little pipe that sticks out of the back of the porch roof where air conditioner condensation drips. We put a bucket under it, and I use that also to water the plants (or to rinse dog pee off the porch). The bucket takes less than 24 hours to fill. Between the bucket and a couple of bottles of water from the sink, I haven’t needed to run the hose for the plants since we turned on the A/C instead of the swamp cooler.

Shower at the gym.

There are two benefits to showering at the gym: I automatically take a shorter shower (who wants a leisurely shower in a group shower?) and it doesn’t show up on our water bill.

Do you think about how much water you use? What are some water-saving tips you’ve found?

*Yes, we have a back yard pool which is not at all water-use friendly. In my defense, we bought a house with a pool before I was aware of such things, remodeled the pool before I was aware of such things, and are not willing to spend the money to have it taken out. And we use it, so it’s my main source of water guilt.

Planting A Back Yard Garden

A back yard garden has been a project in my mind for a while. I decided at some point a while ago that this year was the year to start.

And then I got pregnant. First trimester fatigue was really somethin’.

But I still wanted to do something. So finally, I made a new plan:

I would buy some plants (instead of growing from seed, which was my preference) and plant them in pots that I already had (thanks, Freecycle!). Assuming I can keep them alive, I’ll put in some raised beds for next season and do it right.

I bought a six-pack variety pack of tomatoes, two strawberry plants, a squash plant, and a couple of marigolds. This is what it looks like so far:

There are only three tomatoes planted so far because I ran out of soil. When my trusty soil delivery service brought more (Thanks, Big Man! Not being able to carry heavy things is a drag!), it was dark and I had moved on to other projects. The last three will be planted in the next day or two, and the soil on the squash will be topped off.

A friend of mine said she has more zucchini plants than they need in their organic garden, so I’m going to take one of those as well.

I also have been reading about growing onions from onion bottoms and garlic from a clove, so those will get added in to the mix as well. I’ve done some reading on all of this, but most of what I’ve seen is not for this climate. Mainly, I’m guess-and-checking πŸ™‚

The strawberries are on top of an inverted pot because The Dog was quite interested in them. He didn’t show interest in any of the other plants, but he tried to eat the strawberry plants. He’s short enough that he can’t reach them now.

I think I need some more marigolds. At some point, we’ll make the yard in general a little nicer-looking, and the garden will fit right in πŸ™‚ Or maybe the garden will be the beginning of the yard beautification project.

I am hoping we get at least a little yield from the produce plants. I know it’s late to be planting.

Investment? The plants, soil, and cages cost just under $60, including what’s in the picture as well as a lantana for the front yard. Not bad. I’ll keep you posted on how it progresses!

Time investment? So far, beyond the time it took to shop, it took about half an hour to get the plants from their little plastic nursery containers into what you see pictured. I’m guessing another half hour for the rest of the tomatoes. Maybe a little less, since I know what I’m doing now.

I am also going to be starting a worm compost bin. I am starting to look for a container that fits the specs that isn’t plastic. As soon as I find one, I’ll order some worms and we’ll be in business!

Anyone else grow their own fruits, veggies, or herbs?

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