Dec 27, 2011


Before I pulled all of my tomato plants out, I grabbed a handful of each variety I had growing in my garden.  They were still green and not close to ripe.  Being of a curious nature, I wanted to see what they would taste like if they were to ripen off of the vine.  Unfortunately, by the time the larger varieties ripened, they were wrinkled and aged.  However, the smaller grape tomatoes did just fine and tasted better than store bought tomatoes.  (Note: This is not a slam against store bought tomatoes.  They are fine.  If that's your only option.)  =)  So, if you have some green love apples on the vine when you pull your plants out, give them time to ripen at room temperature, and you will have a sweet surprise!

To all my readers, sorry for my lack of blogging of late.  With not much growing outside, I have been busy with holiday baking and activities.  I will update you all on my broccoli this week! 

Nov 28, 2011

Covering up

With a low last night of 21, I knew it was time to cover my broccoli.  It is growing away nicely, and I don't want frozen broccoli before I have any actual edible broccoli.  So, it's time for the sun box to make another appearance.

First, I had to move one plant so that it would be covered by my box.  What can I say, you have seen by now that planning is not my forte.  =) Once that little darling was moved, I took a few simple steps to extend my growing season.

Step one: grab all the wooden frames and used window.  You can see my original post on the sun box here.  Below is a close up of the simple frame bracket.

Step two: Stack 'em up.

Step three: Roll 'em out.  This year I decided to line two of the sides with foil to increase the light.  I might accidentally cook the broccoli, but you never know until you try!

Voila! Mini-greenhouse, aka sun box, is now protecting my plants and extending my growing season.  =)

 You can see some heat/condensation already building up.  Stay warm, broccoli!

Nov 16, 2011

Broccoli Progress Report

Are you curious how my broccoli is doing?  Do you stay up late at night wondering if I have forgotten about the last green things I have growing in my garden?  If so, dear friends, this post is for you! =) 

If not, you might want to stop reading now.  Also, if you are really staying up late at night wondering about my broccoli, you might want to talk to someone about that.  Mainly, me.  Because I am pretty sure I am the only one who cares as much as you. 

It has been such a nice, long fall here in Kansas.  I haven't had to cover my broccoli yet, which is good.  One of the benefits of growing a fall crop is that it is usually cold enough to kill off a few pests. 

Some plants actually do better in the fall, because they don't like heat.  Broccoli is one of those plants that likes cold temperatures and will survive nights that get to freezing or a touch below with no protection. 

Here is what it looked like a couple of weeks ago, when I first planted it:

Kind of wimpy and pathetic, no?  Here are some pictures that I took yesterday:

Coming along quite nicely, don't you think?  No signs of the tender edibles yet, but I know that joyous occasion will be coming soon.  I have been giving them a boost of compost tea from my worms when I have it, because broccoli is a heavy feeder.  In non-gardening terms, that means it likes to eat as much as I do, and plant nutrients come in the form of fertilizer.  =) 

My nutrients come in the form of cheeseburgers.  Don't judge me. 

Nov 9, 2011

Tucking in

I woke up one November morning in shock that it was supposed to reach 75 degrees.  You never can tell what Kansas weather will bring.  I have begun the slow process of removing all of the plants (except for my broccoli) from the garden.  However, it seems a bit counter-intuitive to pull up things that are still green; things that I have poured my blood, sweat and tears into.  Is it really that time?

This growing season in Kansas was brutal.  We broke a record for most 100 degree days since the 1930’s.  (Frankly, I don’t want to hold that record!)  So, I had to fight the weather and a few pests for every bit of produce during this awful summer.  At this point, I am ready to rest myself and my soil, and allow excitement to build about what I am going to plant next spring while my soil replenishes its’ nutrients. 

So, although it was a beautiful 75 degrees, I pulled out the last of my tomatoes from my garden bed, and added them to the compost pile.  I plan to use some newly shredded fall leaves and a little water to cover my garden with a thick blanket.  I like the feeling of tucking it in for a nice, restful winter’s nap.  To answer my own question about timing, I took a quick glance at the weather.  The next day's forecast: Rain with a high of 52.  I guess it is that time, after all.         

Oct 27, 2011

First Frost

I knew it was coming, and decided to do nothing to stop it.  I thought about rushing out after work to cover my poor little plants up.  However, you guys know what a brutal summer it has been.  Frankly, at this point in the year, I am ready to baby my broccoli when it gets really cold, but am not ready to prolong the growing season of anything else.  Here is what I found when I made it out to my garden the next day. Warning: If you are opposed to seeing a mess, avert your eyes.

My eggplant, which is a heat-lover, is wilted and dead.

My jalapeno, another fan of summer heat, froze to death.

Finally, my tomatoes.  They were just starting to show signs of life again with the cool down, but you can see the frost damage in the first picture.  Basically, my garden was a big mess of things that I needed to pull.  I am in the midst of cleaning it all up and preparing to put the beds to sleep for the winter. 

Yes, dear readers, this means my posting frequency will soon be down to nothing as I will have nothing growing and changing in my little garden.  This isn't my last post of the year, but I want to thank you all for your support this past year.  I've had so much fun writing my little blog and learning and growing right alongside my garden. 

Oct 24, 2011

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Thank you Eric Carle.  =)  This weekend I was doing a little garden clean up when I found a HUGE caterpillar eating some of my green tomatoes. Note: I forgot to put something in the photo for scale, but you can kind of use the bricks as a guide.

He has pretty good camouflage, can you see him?  Yup, the little sucker is enjoying my tomatoes.  Normally I would freak out and start searching online to see what I need to do to get rid of yet another pest.  However, being the end of the season, I was more intrigued than plagued.

For those of you who are curious, I found out it is a tomato hornworm.  Ahem.  Any jokes are entirely too obvious.  =)  If you are really nerdy like me, you can find more information here.

He really blends right in.  I'm not even sure how I saw him!  I think it's safe to say my small garden is on the insect rest stop map, and am curious to see what surprises (Read: problems) next year will bring.

Oct 16, 2011

On a Soapbox

There are a lot of reasons that I started my garden.  I am a huge nerd and love to learn about anything, hence the title of this blog.  I also love that I know absolutely no pesticides have been used at any stage in my garden.  I enjoy walking out into my backyard and watching mother nature shape and destroy my clueless plans.  =)  I also really like making people laugh, and I think so far this year I have succeeded in that last one! 

This garden also came about because of things I know and believe.  There are so many humans on this earth, and I know that we cannot continue on the path we are on and expect to be able to feed everyone and still have a place to call home.  My opinions are echoed in this article.

If you have time to read it, you will see that a THIRD or more of greenhouse gases come from the way we currently farm.  It also says that we will need to DOUBLE our food supply in 40 years to feed everyone.  

So, if you are thinking about starting a garden, I urge you to give it a try.  I hope I have shown you all that any idiot with a little bit of time and water can successfully grow SOMETHING worthwhile.  It's a great time to prepare and build your garden beds so that next spring you can plant right away and enjoy the fruits (or vegetables) of your labor.

I am stepping off my hippie soapbox now.  =) 

Oct 11, 2011


Everything is falling apart!!!

Well, I guess my trellis is now just leaning against the fence under the weight of the plants, and against the ghetto rigging that was applied a while ago.  Still, I am ALMOST ready for winter.  =)  Ask me about that again in December/January.

Oct 4, 2011

Testing Yew

No, it isn't a typo.  I know I have mentioned MULTIPLE TIMES that I really hate the landscaping out front that the previous owners left me.  It is entirely too many plants in one space and I hate rock.  HATE.  However, I know that I am stuck with it because removing all of that rock and digging out all of those mature plants sounds like time and energy that I don't have. 

Here is one of the plants that I hate. 

And I have two of these, ICK!  Normally it is green, but with the brutal summer, it is common for these yews to be burnt here in Kansas.  According to local gardening sources (aka the newspaper) you must trim just the burnt tips off of these plants so that they will not go into shock and will recover from the burn.  After a little while of doing this, I am almost certain it is a practical joke being played on me by someone.

This one is not that badly burnt, but it is still giving me nightmares.  As I sat on the sidewalk, patiently clipping just the burnt tips off my mind began to wander...

If I was in a movie, this would be Karate Kid.  And when I met my arch nemesis, I would have some amazing karate skill learned from this tedious work given to me by Mr. Miyagi, along with words to live by. "Angela-san: Burn on. Burn off."  Or maybe, "Woman who trim all burned parts off can accomplish anything."

Alas, this is real life, and I am pretty sure I don't have any new karate skills.  Maybe, just maybe though, my plants will live.  Below is half of one miserable yew, given the Miyagi treatment by me.  Ha!

Looks better already!  =)

Oct 2, 2011

Here it goes again

Music is so interrelated to everything I do in life.  Almost every song reminds me of something or someone... and if you ever drive by during nice weather when the windows are open, you'll probably hear me belting out a few tunes.  Fair warning.  =)  The OK Go song title pretty much sums up my craziness right now.  I can't believe it, but I am back to planting a fall crop of vegetables.

I pulled out the burned up sad corn, and my zucchini gave up the ghost a long time ago.  So, while at my local nursery, I picked up broccoli transplants.  (I am still on the hunt for lettuce to plant, just give me time.)  Then I gave my broccoli a new home with just a dash of compost from my worms.

Another beautiful thing about square foot gardening is the natural crop rotation that takes place.  Zucchini and corn were in these spots, and by just following mother nature's schedule, I have rotated crops. Also, with the addition of compost every time you plant, you are making sure your soil never gets depleted.  Voila!  Easy, breezy beautiful gardening.  =)  Here's to a successful (hopefully) fall crop!

Sep 29, 2011


I love it when something from my garden like this....

Turns into this...

And this...

A roasted veggie wrap with freshly made pesto... What could be better?

How does this magical thing happen?  I have kitchen elves.  They take my garden offerings and do all of the hard work.  I really wanted the shoe elves, but, hey!  Don't kick a gift horse in the mouth.  =)

Sep 27, 2011

A season for everything

I love fall.  I can almost hear all of my plants saying, "Ah!" Well, maybe that was me saying that.  The cooler temperatures and rain have made everything green and alive.  The two plants I actually like out front are blooming and looking great.

I have no idea what this plant is, but it smells great when you cut it, and the bees and butterflies really love it.  Is it a butterfly bush?  If anyone knows what it is, please fill me in.  It only looks pretty this time of year, though.

Also, my hibiscus are growing like crazy.  I love these plants.  They cheer me with their big, showy flowers and are very low maintenance.

Finally, I replaced my sad, leggy vinca on the front porch with an arrangement of pansies.

You bunch of pansies!!!  Hee hee.  I'm sorry, I really can't help myself.  =)

Sep 24, 2011

Creepy Crawly

Ah, the life of a Gardenerd.  The variety of experiences that I have had this year are enough to write a... Well, a very small blog with about 11 followers.  =)  I spent some much-needed time in the garden this weekend, as I have been neglecting to do that since I have been working a lot and in charge of mowing the yard.  (YUCK!  Mowing is not gardening, and I do not enjoy it.) 

First up, the Crawly part.

My cauliflower is huge, and still not showing any signs of cauliflower.  I think that might have to do with the fact that it has been plagued with pests of the crawly variety.

Here is the cauliflower.  You can see the holey leaves.  (No, it doesn't go to church.)  The culprits are crawly killer caterpillars. 

Can you see it?  It's kind of like Where's Waldo with insects.  They blend in very nicely and do a lot of damage in a short amount of time.

These little buggers are my nightmare with an organic garden.  I have to hand pick them off, since I am opposed to using pesticides on something I want to eat!

AND, since some of them can be very tiny, this takes a lot of time!

Now for the creepy part... I saw a spider on our back porch which was unique looking.  I decided to take a picture, since it had a very tiny web.

Have I mentioned that I am really scared of spiders?  They creep me out.  But they are a gardeners friend! AND, they are more scared of you than you are of them.  

Yeah right.  Keep telling yourself that if it helps you sleep at night. 

However, in the name of nature, I decided to try to get a good picture of its coloring.  And since the light was poor, I turned on the flash.

Bad idea.  All of the sudden I could see just how vast this spiders' web was.  I slowly backed away and walked into the house.  Every once in a while, I look out the back door.  I think he's watching me.  CREEPY!

Sep 12, 2011

Control Top Melon

Those of you who know me should know that I had a really hard time trying to keep the title from going towards my favorite guilty pleasure: middle school mentality.  I had such a hard time, in fact, that I had to mention it before I got down to the point of this post!  =)  I know, it's shocking.  I do sometimes have a point, and can sometimes (somewhat) contain myself.   


Did you know that what we call cantaloupes are actually muskmelons?  Real cantaloupes are only found in Europe, mostly in France.  Between the cantaloupes and the love apples, I am beginning to think France is the place for me.  (For an explanation of love apples, click here.

My melon has been living the life of luxury for a while.  However, when I went out today, I thought it looked and smelled ripe.  Oh, I wish all of you could smell that intoxicating scent.  So, I gently picked it out of it's pantyhose hammock, and wouldn't you know it... That melon wanted to come on inside with me!  (The melon slipping off the vine so easily is a sign that the melon was ripe.)

Oh, sweet, juicy, control top melon. =)  Although a bit on the small side, I am pretty excited to reap one more reward from all of my labor! 

Side note: Thanks to my sis for making me laugh about my "Control Top" Melon. 

Sep 7, 2011

Back to School Math

Don't worry, there won't be a test on this later.  =) 

On the plus side, my eggplant has a few more babies growing away.

On the minus side, my corn basically burned up with tiny ears not worth harvesting on the stalks.

Plus side... Finally!  Signs of jalapenos! 

Minus: Ants were farming aphids on my cucumber. 

 Note: Yes, ants farm other insects.  It isn't cute.  Anytime you see ants on the underside of your leaves, look for tiny insects.  Then blast them off with water.  It's the only organic way!

Plus: Signs of tomatoes!!!  With the cooler temperatures, I just might get more love apples!

Minus: The cauliflower was attacked by killer caterpillars again.  Still no sign of actual cauliflower. 

So, what do you get when you add these all up?  One brutal summer.

Sep 5, 2011

A use for pantyhose

Finally!  I have never had much use for them before. =)  (Now tights, that's a different story.)  However, how many of you knew you could use pantyhose in your garden? That's what I thought too!

I have a cantaloupe growing away, and it needs a little extra support.

That's where the pantyhose come in!  First, take an old useless pair of pantyhose and cut them up with scissors.  It feels good, trust me! =)  Open up one leg so you have a big swatch.

Yep, that'll do.  Then Tie it to your trellis that is already in place.  You are basically making a hammock for the poor little melon to rest in.  Like so:

This helps to relieve some of the pressure off of the vine while the melon continues to ripen.  Ah, the life of luxury that some of my plants have...  I hope you all had a great holiday weekend!