July Garden Tour

We’ve been having nearly 100 degree heat the past week or so and the garden is love love loving it. Here’s a little tour! It’s amazing how much has changed since my June 1 garden tour.

Tomatoes loving the heat.

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Broccoli. Wishing I got it in earlier because this heat’s not doing it any favours.

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The first few roma VF tomatoes.

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Pepper experiment is looking awesome! They are also loving the heat. So far I’d say no differences between the pepper sizes, however they are about to that size where the competition within a pot of multiple peppers might be starting to matter. Soon we’ll have peppers coming out our ears!

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The first bell pepper.

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The first jalapeno.

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More tomatoes. I am really making an effort to prune this year and keep them better guided into their cages than in previous years. I think it’s going well.

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The whole yard. I think I do pretty well with the little space I have 🙂

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Pretty purple pole beans.

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Climb climb climb.

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More tomatoes, basil, and calendula.

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The chaos of a calendula, tomatoes that grew from seed on their own, and some dill that also grew on it’s own.

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Brandywine tomato.

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Carrots and cucs.

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The cucumbers are also loving this heat. I planted the exact same cucumbers as the last two years, like from the same exact seed packet, and the leaves of these plants are HUGE compared to last year. It’s going to be a gooooood cuc year.

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Massive zuch!

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Beets that really need to be eaten.

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Indigo rose tomatoes.

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Peas are dying, so I’m going to pull them shortly and plant some more beans. I’m definitely doing a better jobs at succession planting this year too.

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And that’s all folks! Having a good garden year?

June 1 Garden Tour

Wow – June already!? How time flies. The garden is all planted and I’m so ready for summer, so I thought I’d give you a little tour of this year’s garden. 14 tomato plants this year, which I am super excited about, but unfortunately since I plant so many I don’t really rotate my crops. Sigh – one day I’ll have some land and do this right! I think I do pretty well with the space I have though.

Up first – tomatoes of course. My first year starting from seed was an awesome success. I mulched around them with grass last time we cut the grass.

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More tomatoes and a ton of broccoli. Unfortunately I planted much later than I wanted for the broccoli, so hopefully it doesn’t bolt.

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Tomato, spinach, lettuce, beans and peas. And the gigantic parsley that survived the winter.

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Peas and beets.

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Lettuce and spinach in boxes. The lettuce seems much happier than the spinach.

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Peppers in pots! I am excited about this because I ended up turning it into an experiment. Yep, I’m a dork like that. I got pretty big (16″, 32 quarts of dirt) pots, and thought, “I wonder if I could grow multiple peppers in each pot and still get a good yield?” So being the dork I am, decided I’d grow 1, 2 or 3 peppers per pot and track the yield to find out. Stay tuned!!


One pepper per pot – King if the North bell pepper and jalapeno.

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Three peppers per pot. Obviously going to be more crowded than recommended, but how will the yield compare to a pepper with its own pot?

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Carrots and cucs.

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Potato box.

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Self seeded tomatoes and dill woo woo.

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How’s your garden growing?

To start seeds or to buy starts?

For me, this has been a question I’ve asked myself for the past few years, and I just changed my answer this year! I decided to dive in and grow my own, and here is why.


Some crops (like tomatoes and peppers) really need to start inside and be transplanted outside when the weather warms enough, but the decision whether to start your own or buy them can be a difficult one for a beginner gardener (or at least I thought so!). To me, the answer is easier if you have a really tiny garden, or a really massive garden, but when you are somewhere in between, as I am, the decision can be a little more difficult. With a small garden where you just grow two or three tomato plants, buying a couple quality starts is likely more worthwhile than buying a whole pack of seeds when you only want a couple, and investing in grow lights (but if you want to, go for it!). On the flip side, it makes the most sense to start your own seeds, I think, if your garden is really large. So, if you are currently in the middle somewhere with me, I thought I’d let you in on the math that I did to make my decision. I have about 180 square feet of garden, and in the past three years that I’ve had this garden I’ve usually purchased starts for my tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, alyssum and broccoli; so I thought I’d break down my math for you based on those plants only. Everything else that I grow I just seed outside anyways, so we’ll ignore that part for this math. So how much would it cost me, each year, to buy the starts for my garden, versus starting my own seeds?

Buying starts:

Let’s say I buy all my veggie starts for $2.50, and a pack of 6 flowers for $4.00, since that’s about the ballpark of what I spend on them. Based on last year my cost would be as follows:
12 tomatoes  $30
4 peppers       $10
4 broccoli       $10
12 alyssum     $8
12 marigolds  $8


You could, of course, also spend more if you’re buying larger starts, etc.

What if I buy the seeds and equipment needed to start my own? It gets a little more complicated if you are also buying multiple varieties of tomatoes and pepper (which I did). So here is the cost for the seeds I actually purchased this year. And as a note, these are certified organic, non-GMO seeds (the tomatoes and peppers at least), so are also on the higher end of cost.

Indigo Rose Tomato  $2.75
Roma VF Tomato       $2.75
Gilbertie Tomato       $2.75
Brandywine Tomato  $2.75
Marigold                     $1.69
Calendula                   $1.69
Alyssum x2                 $3.38
Broccoli                      $3.20
Jalapeno                     $2.75
Red Bell Pepper        $2.75



Supposing I only bought one variety of tomato, and one colour of alyssum, I could of course reduce that down as well, by as much as almost $10. However, there are some other expenses; I also bought seed starting trays, and a seed starting soil blend. Also, to get a good tomato or pepper start, they do like a lot of light, so  I invested in a grow light this year, and the stand that came with it. Some people also swear by using heating mats, because optimal germination temperature for tomatoes and peppers is pretty warm (75-85 F approximately). I didn’t go for that this year, so I’m not including that in my math. Adding all my accessories to my budget I get:

Hydrofarm JSV4 4-Foot Jump Start T5 Grow Light System   $80
Seed starting trays (48-cell insert plus outer tray) x2           $10
Black gold seedling mix (16 qt)                                                $10.99


All-inclusive, this year’s new endeavour then comes to $127.45, versus my $66 for buying all my seed starts. While it sounds cheaper to buy the starts, I’ll now reuse my grow light and trays every year. I also have seeds leftover, that if I store in a cool, dry place will still be good for next year. In fact the alyssum is from last year and I still have more seeds left over, and they are germinating just fine. You can also save money in other places, like by making your own seed starting mix, or sharing the cost of seeds with a friend who also has a small garden. You can also save your extra seeds for the next year. The price of how much electricity the grow light will use (especially if you have a few) also could factor into the math, but I’m not really sure I can make a good guess at that.

As an additional note on the grow light, I am really happy with it so far. If you want to buy a light on it’s own, and build your own stand, you could go that route, but if you are looking for one that comes with a stand, this setup is really nice. The height of the light is also adjustable so you can raise it as the plants grow, and the stand is very easy to assemble. They also make a 2-ft version if you are looking for something smaller.

All-in-all I’m happy with my decision, despite a bit more upfront cost. I also just enjoy the fact that I can watch the seedlings grow, make sure that they are properly hardened off before planting outside, and move to larger pots when I need to. I also like that I can have more control over the varieties that I plant (I’ve never seen Gilbertie before for instance). So, if you have a little extra time and money, I think it’s well worth it. But hop to it soon, spring has sprung!


Do you buy your starts or grow your own? Any new and exciting plans for this year?


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July Garden Tour

I just can’t get over how the garden looks compared to what it looked like one month ago today, in my June garden update. And also compared to last year things are much further along!

The side garden has 4 tomato plants, but they appear to have merged into one mega bush. The peas are basically done, and I will replant those for a fall crop this weekend.


The zucchini is out of control. Time for some more relish soon I think!!


The potatoes have all died back, so I’ll harvest those this week and see what we’ve got. I will likely replant and see what I can get for a second crop too.


Even this tomato, which is only in a 6 inch deep raised bed with pretty rocky and gross soil is kicking butt! I think I can only credit the climate and my ability to water for these successes, I’m not sure what all I’m doing right!


The fig tree that was killed by the cold winter is starting to resurrect!


We’ve got beans and basil galore.


Tons of carrots are ready, and the cucumbers are heading up the trellis. Can’t wait to make some more of these pickled carrots.


Adorable pickling cucs!


I have some mondo beets that I really need to pick. Maybe I’ll make more pickled beets or just grill them up with one of these recipes.


And the kale has been a little neglected as well. Excellent kale salad recipe coming your way soon. Or I’ll make some kale smoothies.


And my pride and joy, more tomatoes!


One of the San marzano plants is actually taller than me!! (not that I’m that tall, ya ya let the short jokes come in). Although, since I fail at pruning (and by that I mean I don’t even try), they are a lot of leaves and maybe not as many maters as there could be. But I can’t really say I expect any sort of shortage 😉


How is your garden looking? Is there anything you are drowning in or anything that isn’t doing so hot? Got any great zucchini recipes you want to share??

Garden update, and more on the potato box!

I have been meaning to do this update for aaaaggees and I’m not sure why it keeps getting delayed. And every time I go to do it the plants have grown even more and I need to take new pictures. It’s crazy how fast everything is growing! So here we go finally, the first day of summer and the garden is booming!

The peas have reached the top of the fence and are going crazy 🙂 We’ve also got 4 tomatoes and the zucchinis in the side garden.

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The first zucchini of the season is growing! Look at that cutie pie.

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I’ve harvested my rhubarb twice already and look at it! Many more rhubarb treats still to come. I’m not sure if it’s the climate here or what, but rhubarb grows amazingly well.

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I went for 4 tomatoes in the front of the house, and more throughout the raised beds, 12 in total. This year I did lots of romas, san marzano and grand marzano, then 1 grape tomato, an early girl, and an Oregon spring. Lots of canning in my future! Last year the san marzanos were amazing so I am super excited for them again this year.

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But speaking of tomatoes, we did have one problem with our tomatoes last year. Man! While I don’t claim to be an expert gardener by any means, I will make one recommendation here from what I learned. If you haven’t already, get out there and mix some lime into your soil. Quickly! Like now before even finishing reading this! The picture below is blossom end rot, and it can be caused either by calcium deficiency or inconsistent watering. I definitely watered those babies well, like obsessively well, so I think I must have had a calcium issue. I guess low calcium in the soil prevents plants from absorbing other nutrients properly. Determinate tomatoes are more prone to getting end rot because the tomatoes all come in at once, creating more stress on the plant. You can just cut the end off if it’s not affecting the whole tomato, but I am really hoping I limed enough to avoid it this year.

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And here is the whole yard! I’ve got lettuce for days!

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OK, now let’s talk about the potato box! The idea behind growing potatoes in a box is that as the greenery grows up taller, you mound the dirt around them, add more layers of box, and presto, you’ve got potatoes! It’s a great way to grow potatoes, especially in a small area, mine is only 2 feet by 2 feet. When I first decided to build one, I tried finding others who had success with it. I watched a bunch of youtube videos of excited gardeners opening up their boxes, and most of them were complete failures! Very few or no potatoes 😦 So, instead of realizing maybe it doesn’t work, and deciding not to build one, I thought I’d see if it would work for me. We shall see! Last year I got them started a little too late, but still had some potatoes, so I am excited to see how it works out this year. They sure are growing lots of leaves, hopefully there are taters under there!

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My other beds include more tomatoes, peppers, beans, herbs, edamame, beets and stevia. I also have a bunch of dill growing in random places because I had some go to seed in the garden last year. It’s going to be ready way before the pickling cucs, dang it! And it looks like I forgot a picture of my beety delciousness. Next time I guess!

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The marigolds I started from seed aren’t too happy, but I’m hoping they start busting out soon.

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And the alyssum I also started from seed. They were looking teeny and pathetic, so I planted them anyways… now they just look weird and sad. So we’ll see what happens there too. They have a few flowers, but look kind of weird. Not sure what went wrong, oh well.

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Cucs and carrots. These babies are looking good 🙂 I could have got the carrots in a little sooner than I did, but oh well, we’ll have lots soon.

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OK wow, I realize there were a lot of exclamation points in there. But I am so excited for summer!! YAY GARDEN! This year I stuck with mostly tried and true favorites, with the addiction of stevia and edamame. What are you growing? Any new adventurous plants?