In Our Garden: Really!?!

Just when I think it’s spring and I’m going to be able to forget about the cold for a few months, Mother Nature decides to throw one more storm my way. I spent Mother’s Day watching the snow fall. A good chunk of yesterday, too. Because that’s what I want in May. Snow and having to wear flannel pajamas even with the heater running. IN MAY! I’m just a tad miffed.

Anyway, I think the seedlings came through it alright, but I don’t know for sure. The gladiolus seem to be perking along in their crock pot-made-planter and I have some itty, bitty sprouts in the other planters, but I’m going to give it a few days before I declare them all safe. Ahead of the storm coming in, I wrapped our planters in garbage bags to keep the frost off them and hopefully provide a little bit of insulation. The Bits were rather confused until I explained that it was the closest thing to wrapping our plants in a blanket that I could offer. Big Bit liked the idea of her flowers being kept cozy in the snow. The storm passed yesterday afternoon, and while it’s still a bit nippy, I took the bags off the planters this morning so the seedlings that did make it through can get some sun. Fortunately, it’s still early enough in the season that if we suffered any massive casualties I can go buy some more seed packets and hopefully still have some pretty flowers. Fingers crossed.

Well, a happy Mother's Day to you, too.

Well, a happy Mother’s Day to you, too.

In Our Garden: Finally! (And a Cheeky Squirrel)

This past weekend the Bits and I were finally able to get our garden going. Even though the temperatures are still dipping a bit at night, we shouldn’t have anymore snow coming in to kill any seedlings. Hopefully, since we’re planting a bit earlier than last year, our bluebonnets will do a bit better this time around. As per Big Bit’s request we aren’t growing any vegetables this year, only flowers. We have bluebonnets and moss roses in the large containers and just moss roses in the smaller ones that housed my herb garden last year. The moss roses did so well and looked so pretty last year, so I wanted to have more this year. Also, I wasn’t able to find good looking herbs to replant this year and I still have quite a bit of what I was able to dry last year, so I needed to fill those planters with something else anyway. However, I do have some green onion going in some shot glasses that I salvaged from dinner a few nights ago. They seem pretty happy and in another few days I’ll transplant them into some small pots so they can sit out on the patio while the weather is nice. Last year’s green onion produced almost enough to get us through the winter without buying more from the market. I’m excited to see how much I’ll be able to get out of two.

This year’s “experiment” is bulb flowers. I have a few larger pots that I’m using to try my hand with some gladiolus and a dahlia. If they bloom, it should be very pretty and give a little more pop to our plantings. Hopefully they prove as hearty as advertised.

And now on a mostly unrelated note, I have become convinced that the squirrels out here are possessed, or, at the very least, slightly evil. The morning after we had gotten our seeds planted in our garden, I wake up to find a squirrel digging thru our freshly seeded planters. Big Bit declared him to be a “cheeky squirrel” (we’re fans of a certain British cartoon pig in this house), and while nothing seemed to be too badly disturbed, I did go out and buy some extra seed packets to plant as insurance. If it had just been that, I wouldn’t think anything more of the squirrels here except that they are annoying little pests, as is normal. However later that day, the girls and I came home from some errands and as I was unloading them from the car, I noticed little green shavings on the ground. As I was coming back out to grab another one of the girls (unloading a car when all three kids are in carseats is a multistep process), I noticed there was a hole about 4 inches wide in the lid of my neighbor’s trashcan and there was a little squirrel head peeking out at me. The thing had chewed thru the lid of the trashcan! It didn’t care that I was right there, it just stared back. I am inclined to believe that this was the same squirrelly offender who had been in out planters earlier that morning. He had a cheeky look about him. The final straw is that he seems to believe he he resides here now since the past two mornings that I have been getting Big Bit out the door for school, there he has been on that trashcan, calm as you please, giving me the stare down as I go about my business. Yesterday morning he was even chewing on a french fry he’d found (probably in the trashcan) with a look on his little squirrelly face that seemed to say, “Yes, I’m here. What of it?” Cheeky little squirrel.

In Our Garden: See You Next Spring

The gardening days are coming to an end, at least for this year. We had our first snow earlier in the month, and now the temperatures are getting to be consistently cold and usually around freezing or below overnight. My basil kicked the bucket after the first really cold night. Basil is a rather particular plant, I’ve discovered. It never did very well to begin with. It was too hot and the leaves got scorched, it got too much water when we had big thunderstorms, local rabbits took too many nibbles, etc. I’m sure if it could have spoken it would have had a list complaints about its treatment a mile long. The lupines never did bloom either, but I resigned myself to that a while ago.

We did get our last little harvest of carrots and Big Bit was happy to have them for her dinner a few nights ago. I must say these were rather respectable looking carrots. Having thinned out the box planter with our previous harvests, these actually had room to grow and look carroty.

Big Bit's Last Carrots

Big Bit’s Last Carrots

My big rosemary bush that I bought to replace the one that was decapitated by the windstorm is still doing pretty well, though I may see if I can keep it going in the garage over the winter. While rosemary has proven to be much a heartier plant than others (*cough* BASIL!), I won’t test its fortitude by leaving it out all winter. Hopefully I will be able to nurse it through and it can return to the patio in the spring.

Ah, Spring. I will be counting down the days.

In Our Garden: Flowers!

IMG_1555

We successfully grew flowers! The bluebonnets made it and actually gave us some blooms. Granted they were a bit late compared to if we were actually seeing the wild ones in Texas, but it was still nice to see them. But wait, you say, those aren’t all bluebonnets in that planter. Right you are. The other flowers are moss roses and let me tell you, they have gone nuts! Next spring I may still plant some bluebonnets, but the other planter will be all moss roses, they’ve done so well. That or perhaps I will plant my bluebonnets in both planters and then after a few weeks add my moss roses since it made for a pretty box having the two blooming together.

Why are there moss roses in my planter of bluebonnets? Well a few weeks after we had planted our bluebonnets a certain preschooler and gardening helper got into a drawer where I was storing some seed packets and ripped one of them open, spilling seeds all over the drawer. After said preschooler was appropriately chastised for being in said drawer, I cleaned up the seeds and decided to just sprinkle them in the planters and see what happened. So a total accident, but one with a most happy result. Big Bit and Little Bit have loved seeing all these flowers and their color. The flowers seem to only last a day, but they are beautiful to look at in the mornings while we get ready for school.

Unfortunately I have to report that the lupines we planted have yet to flower, and with the seasons starting to turn here and things getting chilly I’m sort of doubting that they will. Oh well, it was worth a shot. Like I said, next spring and summer will be all about the moss roses.

 

 

In Our Garden: Harvest!

Our Carrots

Our Carrots

We did it! We really did it! Last night Big Bit got to eat the first of the carrots we planted together. They weren’t the prettiest things, and, being grown in a box planter, they weren’t that big, but that doesn’t matter. She helped to grow them and she got to eat them. She was so proud! Especially since she got to help cook them, too. (Mama is usually very strict about kitchen access while cooking is going on.)

So there you have it, a successful first harvest. Hopefully by thinning out the planter a bit, some of the other carrots that are left will get a chance to grow a bit more and then we can have some more sometime next week. I’m so glad we took on this project. Big Bit really enjoyed it (and so did I) and she got to see where some of her food comes from, all the way from a tiny seed to something on her plate.

(And part of me still can’t believe we pulled this off.)

In Our Garden: Pictures!

There isn’t much to update in regards to our garden from the last post, but I did promise pictures of the onion once it bloomed and I am here to deliver.

Our very own "Bloomin' Onion"

Our very own “Bloomin’ Onion”

I think it’s quite pretty and it is nice to have some actual flowers on our patio. While the bluebonnets and lupines are growing and seem to be doing well, they are not even close to being ready to flower.

Herb Container #1 (Including the green onion grown from kitchen scraps.)

Herb Container #1 (Including the green onion grown from kitchen scraps.)

This is the first of my two planters with my herb garden. I have thyme, green onion, and oregano. Everything seems to be doing quite well. The other day I harvested some of the thyme and got another batch of the oregano. The green onion has also been very productive. Not bad for something grown from 50¢ kitchen scraps!

Herb Container #2 (Including the unfortunate rosemary.)

Herb Container #2 (Including the unfortunate rosemary.)

The second of my herb planters. Here I have my basil, some more oregano, and between them, what is left of the poor decapitated rosemary. And it was such a lovely little bushy plant, too. I am hopeful that my plucky little sprig can come through this and recover. Not only do I like rosemary for my kitchen needs, but I think the smell was discouraging local rabbits from being too interested in the other herbs. Since the windstorm, they have been quite a bit more keen on nibbling my basil.

There you have it, pictures of our garden. Hopefully I will have some pictures of lupines and bluebonnets by the end of summer. I will also continue monitoring the rosemary. Fingers crossed, the next photo will be evidence of growth and recovery.

In Our Garden: Successes and Setbacks

Time for an update on our garden project! First, the good news:

The lupines and bluebonnets are still sprouting up nicely and seem to be doing very well. We are still a long way off from having flowers, but this good start is making me hopeful that we will have some before the end of the season. The onions in the crock pot turned planter are also doing very well. One looks like it will be flowering soon. I promise to take a picture of our “bloomin’ onion” once it is in full flower. The herb garden also seems to be happy (for the most part). The green onion is still sending up new shoots, and I’m getting a nice little stash of chopped green onion bits in my freezer. I’m guessing we’ll have to have baked potatoes or something for dinner sometime soon.

The real success story, though, has been the oregano. I was able to get our first harvest about a week ago. Between the two plants, I got a nice sized bunch which is still currently hanging and drying out in our dining room. Big Bit was completely fascinated by the whole process of harvesting the oregano and then getting it tied (or in this case, rubber-banded) together to be hung. I’m planning on doing an Italian dish when it is fully dried out, so Big Bit can see the complete cycle, from garden to table. It’s important for kids to know where their food comes from. I’m also very proud of how well Big Bit has learned to identify the plants in our garden. She can name all the herbs we’re growing and point out which is which. I’m glad she’s enjoying this and that she’s learning from it, too. I am one proud and happy mama.

Our First Oregano Harvest

Our First Oregano Harvest

And now on to the not so good news:

The first setback is that a heatwave we experienced seems to have been too much for a good chunk of our baby carrots. Of all the sprouts we had, I think maybe a third or so are left. They just couldn’t take the heat. Hopefully we will still get one or two out of the planter that can be harvested and cooked (once again, illustrating garden to table), but we’ll see. Hopefully the survivors are a hearty bunch and even if we do get more high temperatures (which we most likely will), it won’t do the rest in.

Setback number two is that a few nights ago we had a wind storm that decapitated my rosemary. There is one measly little sprig left sticking out of the dirt in the planter. However, the roots are still intact and I am hoping that the plant can recover and send out some new growth. I also recovered the portion which broke off. It broke off right at the soil level, so I’ve stuck it in a shot glass filled with water and am seeing if I can encourage it to send out some new roots. If I can manage that, then I can get a little pot and replant it. If not, well, rosemary roasted potatoes are delicious. It hasn’t turned brown yet, though, so I’m holding out hope.

Gardening with My Girls

I don’t know what it was, but something made my eldest adamant that we have a garden this year. I’m thrilled by her enthusiasm, but at the same time I’m a bit nervous. While there are a number of accomplished gardeners in my family tree (my grandfather had one of the most amazing vegetable gardens I’ve ever seen), I do not claim to be one of them. Some people have green thumbs. Mine is probably closer to black. I managed to kill lucky bamboo back in college. However, I am all about supporting my daughter’s interests, so if it’s a garden she wants, a garden she shall have.

Now, unfortunately, our current house doesn’t have much of a yard, so our “garden” is being limited to planters on our patio. We have three large planters, two smaller ones, a cracked crock pot that I’ve turned into a planter, and a small, plastic princess pot that came with a zinnia growing kit. In one of our larger planters, my eldest (Big Bit), has chosen to try and grow carrots. They are her favorite vegetable and I have promised to cook them for her if we are able to harvest any, though at this point I still think that’s a rather big if. In our second large planter we’ve planted lupines because one of Big Bit’s bedtime stories is Miss Rumphius, a story about a lady who plants lupines in order to leave the world a more beautiful place. Finally, our last large planter has been seeded with bluebonnets.

Big Bit and I planting her carrots.

Big Bit and I planting her carrots.

The smaller planters (excepting the plastic princess pot with the zinnias) are my domain. The cracked crock pot holds two onions that sprouted in our pantry. I don’t expect to really do anything with them, but I planted them nonetheless, because, why not? The smaller box planters have my little kitchen herb garden. I have oregano, basil, rosemary, and thyme. I also have some green onion being grown from kitchen scraps. (Thank you Pinterest for the tip!)

As I said before, I’m not some amazing gardener so my expectations for this project are very modest. However, both the girls seem to really enjoy going out and tending to our garden. Watering is an especially anticipated task. Regardless of whether we actually manage to grow something (though hopefully we do!) I’m glad to have a project we can work on together as a family. Fingers crossed, I will be able to make positive reports on our garden’s progress as the season progresses.

Like I said, we're all about watering here.

Like I said, we’re all about watering here.