Homegrown: Garden Update

Way back in May I had all these plans for building my garden bed, doing fabulous DIY posts about it, with bi-weekly updates on how things are growing.

Quite clearly, that didn’t happen. May turned into a life-organization-falling-apart month/blogging slump, and I feel like I am finally done with that. I did end up taking lots of photos of the building process, but never ended up editing them and putting a post together. I don’t even have a reason; I just never got around to actually doing it (re: life-organization-falling-apart month).

But, here I am now, with an update of how my happy little garden is doing it! I absolutely love gardening. I find it so incredibly satisfying on all levels – growing a plant, watching it thrive, and then in the end eating veggies I grew myself!

A quick note – I grow everything (veggies and flowers) from seed. I figured I’d just let you know so I don’t have to acknowledge it for every single plant!


Lettuce! I am so happy these guys are getting so big! I’m growing two varieties: Romaine (left) and Giant Caesar (right). They are both such thick, crisp leaved lettuces. Which is my absolute favorite! I did spinach last year, and the leaves were very soft. I like a good crunch to my greens so I’m sticking with lettuces this year. (I did actually start some spinach in some pots on the stoop, and a critter ate every single one. Brat.)

carrot closeup

Most of my carrots are growing up quite nicely. To be honest, growing carrots in a small bed is really not that practical. To get enough to make it worthwhile cost-wise, I’d need an entire bed of JUST carrots, not eight little carrot plants. However, since I have a kiddo, carrots are an absolute necessity. Watching her face as she pulls them out of the ground at harvest time is priceless. Totally worth the garden space!

carrot&broccoli overview

Unfortunately, two of my carrots aren’t doing so hot as my broccoli plant it totally taking over with it’s giant leaves! So we’ll only end up with six carrots.


Which brings us to broccoli. I’m pretty cranky with the broccoli actually. Don’t get me wrong – it’s thriving. Thick base, strong leaves. . .and zero florets. Not even the start of florets. We had the same problem last year. Giant glorious plant. . .teeny tiny broccoli floret! I think this is the last year I grow broccoli simply because I’d rather use the space for something more useful (green beans!!). We didn’t even get a single person’s serving worth of broccoli last year, and it looks like this year is following suit. Plus, it’s taking over my carrots. Boo.


My tomatoes are doing quite well this year! Luckily, they are more laid back than last year. (Last year in our container garden they legitimately grew to almost six feet tall, and were so thick and heavy they kept constantly falling over in their buckets and bending the metal cages. We ended up having to anchor them to the house. Tone it down, tomatoes.) These are a perfect size. About three feet tall so far, and lots of little buds and tomatoes starting to come in. Yay!

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Peas! Pretty much my favorite garden veggie to grow. I love to pick them and pop them directly in my mouth, raw and delicious. I’m also really glad they are climbing up my DIY trellis I made for them. It’s a bit hard to see in these photos, but farther down there’s a picture of the full bed and you’ll have a better view. The actual trellis is made from fishing line, which I wasn’t sure would be strong enough for them to climb, but they seem to be responding quite well to it.


Lastly, the marigolds. I have two different plants, and I’m really excited for how big they have gotten, especially being started from seed. This one has hugely grown out, with tons of bee-attracting blooms!


And although I’m usually a cool color gal, I love fire colored flowers. So beautiful.

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And then there is this marigold plant, which I have lovingly dubbed my mutant marigold. Marigolds are generally a small bushy-type plant. This one apparently aspired to be a palm tree. It is as tall as my tomatoes (about three feet). And it has HUGE blossoms.

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It’s the size of my palm! What?! We had to truss it up to the pea trellis frame after the last rain as it’s stems are so tall and thick it was tipping over into the lettuces. It also started to bloom over two weeks after my other marigold (they were started at the same time). But I’ve learned to love it. It’s got character.


I’ve got some radishes in pots at the front of the garden. They are so yummy fresh on a salad! Plus, more fun things for my little to pick. These are almost ready to pluck out, and I’ve already gotten three others. I love how quickly radishes grow.

full view

And here’s the whole bed! We tucked it in the corner of our yard where the grass is a bit sparse and away from where the kids play, so it has it’s own little happy area. And it’s built entirely by me and the hubs, which kind of makes it all the more satisfying. You can’t see it, but the bottom of the bed has a full layer of wire fencing that we attached to it to keep the groundhogs out. We’ve had a couple in the yard before, so better safe than sorry. This project also led me to discover that we are the most unprofessional DIYers ever. My hubs, like me, is much more of the nerdy, book-reading, computer-gaming guy, not a power tools, handy-man guy. So I definitely appreciate his willingness and good humor when I propose DIY projects neither one of us have a clue how to do. 😀 And I built the pea trellis all by myself, which I was quite proud of (cough cough – ignore that teeny bit of duct tape at the top – cough cough).

Can’t wait to harvest some yummy veg!

Life’s A Garden: Dig It! {Part 3}

Harvest time!!! At least for some things. I’d say overall success for our container garden this year was about 70%. Granted, full harvest time isn’t over yet, but I think we’ve gotten the majority of the crop that we’re going to get. Sooooooo, let’s get to it!

First up, the broccoli. While the plants themselves got HUGE, the florets were only so-so. We got three different bunches, this being the biggest. However, it was delicious!

While it was still growing. . .

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The final head of florets, yum!

Next up is peas. The peas got very tall, way taller than I was expecting. I had to MacGyver a second tier of cages on with duct tape (super fancy, let me tell ya) but it worked beautifully! They wrapped on to the newly added cage height and gave us lots of fresh snap peas. We don’t shell our peas – we just eat them raw. Yum yum yum! I don’t think any of the handfuls made it more than five minutes in the house. We still have a few stragglers every couple days which we pluck off and munch, but I think our big harvest bunches are all done.

Happy peas ready for picking!

A little bunch – so delicious to chomp down!

Carrot time! Of our original eight plots of carrots, only four actually made it, and I think only one is going to be a big success (see below photo). The others all seem very small. We’re leaving them in the ground for another couple weeks, but I’m not counting on much.

The biggest of them so far!

My miss was so excited to pull them. I didn’t tell her what was coming up, I just said ‘Pull the stems up!’. She yanks on them, and out it pops. Her eyes got HUGE and she yelled, “CARROTS!!!” with extreme excitement. It was wonderful.

And now *insert big sad sigh*. . .my tomatoes. I had such high hopes. The plants themselves are about six feet tall. They are taller than I am!! By about six inches!! And they have about 17 – 20 tomatoes total between the two plants. But they seem to have become stunted. I haven’t seen a change or growth in them in two weeks. . .the tomatoes aren’t ripening; they are just stuck in the green bulbish stage. I think the biggest problem is the size of their containers. Everything I had read said one tomato plant per 5 gallon bucket was a good ratio, but I was not counting on have mutant size plants! There is basically no soil left in the buckets – they have become buckets of pot bound roots. And these weren’t even given a fertilizer or anything! Do they make the opposite of Miracle Gro? ‘Cause I need it. So for next year, I need to find a way to have smaller tomato plants or invest in larger, taller buckets. The plants this year are so heavy they keep tipping over – crashing right through the cages and taking the bucket down with them. So I’ll give the actual tomato fruits another week, and if I still see no change hopefully I can pluck them and they can window ripen in the sun? Definitely not getting my hopes up; I really think they are way too tiny to ripen and be delicious. But this was my experiment year so no big deal! Ok, end of tomato rant.

They are slightly larger than this, but not by much. Bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball. Maybe racquetball sized??? Anyway, I don’t think they’ll ripen. Booooo……

My onions are still growing. The stems seem healthy but I have no clue if anything is actually happening under the soil or if I’m just growing really nice looking stems. . .only time will tell I suppose. I’ll give them to the end of August and see what I’ve got! Oh and as for spinach – I got about three salads worth before it ran out. . .which was sometime mid-July. The leaves were a bit thin for my taste – I prefer a crisper leaf. I think I’ll try some leafy lettuce next year, especially since my daughter likes that better!

I’ll do one more post at the end of the summer season to wrap up my thoughts on container gardening. I hope you’ve enjoyed them so far! Until next time,

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Life’s A Garden: Dig It! {Part 2}

Summer is in full swing, and so is my container garden! The majority of my veggies are thriving, and I couldn’t be happier. Back on June 1st, which was transplant day, we transplanted our broccoli and tomato seedlings into their permanent big growing containers, and planted seeds for peas, carrots, spinach, and two onion types (a sweet white onion, and smaller bunching onions). I knew I wanted some labels to keep track of what I planted, so I began thinking up ones I could make easily. I came up with these.


This was a super complicated process. Yeah, right! I collected flat rocks on walks with my daughter, and once I had enough I found some fonts I liked, took a plain black Sharpie, and free handed some lettering on. Instant cute labels! I was actually really pleased with how these came out – and for FREE! Boy do I love free. These actually ended up looking a bit too fancy in my mismatched plastic tub containers! But, they do their job quite efficiently. And they are weather proof, which is always helpful.

And now, the veggie lineup:



Our tomatoes are GIANT. They are now standing quite above their cages. When these were taken (end of June) no flowers/fruit were sprouting – now I’ve got about 15 tomatoes on the way! Yay!



As my mother-in-law pointed out, there is really no need to grow my own carrots. They are super cheap, even at a farmer’s market. But that’s not the point! It’s FUN! And now my baby girl can pick her own carrots she helped grow! However, of the eight I planted, only four have survived, this being the biggest. And I forgot to take a shot of the whole tub. . .oops.



Our spinach is thriving! And it grows so quick – we’ve already gotten one harvest (cut right after I snapped it’s glamour shots) and hope to get many more before the summer is done! A couple leaves have ended up nibbled by bugs – making an organic, non-chemical pesticide is on my to-do list.



Our broccoli is out of control. It is so big! As in, had to be separated from the group because it’s leaves were SO big it was blocking the sun from the spinach and the onions. When I planted them in the container, the ratio of plant space to soil was fine, but now they look so crowded! Let’s hope it yields some decent florets.



Our onions are still so-so I think. Having never grown them before, I’m not exactly sure what rate they’ll grow at. So these may be perfectly fine. In comparison to all my other plants they seem small, but they are healthy and still growing so I can’t complain!



Our peas are doing great. Some are growing a little wonky in terms of where they’ve gripped the cages, but they’ll be fine. Originally they were placed next to the tomatoes, and on the other side were some lilies. However, the peas got a bit overzealous in their climbing, and attached themselves to the other plants! So I delicately unwound their vines, and moved the whole tub. Now, they only have the cages to climb. I even had to add a second tier of cages because they got so tall! They are happily sprouting peas right now!


So there’s our container garden, happily growing away in the front of our house. And the plastic tubs are just so chic, ha! However, as silly as the colors are, I actually picked them on purpose. Darker colors aren’t recommended for container gardens as they trap heat, and can overheat the soil. So I went with the best light color options available. And at this point, my little mismatched garden has really grown on me.

How is your garden doing? Is there anything you’d like to try and grow that you’ve never attempted before?

Life’s A Garden: Dig It! {Part 1}

Oh, gardening. It’s something I’ve always had an interest in, but for some reason never really given a try. Last year, my husband and I decided to try a garden in our backyard. His parents warned us the soil was not suitable for growing, but we decided to give it a go anyway. It can’t hurt to try, and would only cost us the money for seeds. To sum up – they were right! What things did grow (spinach was about all that made it) were immediately eaten by some outdoor critters.

However, I didn’t want to give up on the idea of growing my own veggies! Last year I was part of a farmers market (selling my baked goods) and I really got into the idea of growing my own food. I still purchase some at the market, but I like the idea of being able to walk into my yard and pick fresh food that me, myself, and I cultivated!

So this year I decided to try out having a container garden. I put in a fair amount of research in terms of what types of veggies are suitable, what soil is best to buy, and how to grow from seeds. I also wanted to keep it as low cost as possible, especially if like last year, it wasn’t successful.

Luckily the low cost was easy enough. I headed to Home Depot for two five gallon buckets, and I also managed to find some of the big plastic tubs in clearance. Their lids were missing (hence the clearance) but that was perfect for me! And I got one big tub with rope handles from my mum since the bottom was cracked. Not good for storage, perfect for a container garden. I recruited my Grampa and his massive drill selection to add drainage holes in my containers and I was good to go! The total cost of the containers was less than $15. I can handle that!

The soil was my big spend. But, it’s necessary and if you preserve it well, it’ll last you for a couple years. I use Miracle-Gro Moisture Control soil in all my containers.It’s recommended for container gardens, and has worked great for me so far! I used it for both my big outdoor containers, and my teeny seed planters for when I started seedlings.

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Scooping dirt, tamping it, and placing seeds with my little miss!

Since I was planting everything from seed, I had to get transplants growing early for my broccoli and tomatoes. Using the Farmer’s Almanac website to get a rough idea of when the last frost would be, I planned out when to start my seeds so they’d have 8 weeks of growing time before transplanting to the big containers. Our apartment has a big sunporch in the front which was a perfect place for the seedlings to start. Plenty of sun, and safe from the elements. Which turned out to be necessary thanks to a freak snowstorm in MID MAY! But my little sprouts were safe and sound, and grew nice and healthy.


Broccoli towards the back, tomatoes up front.

As you can see, I went a little overboard with my seedlings. I was afraid some wouldn’t germinate so I planted TONS. Luckily, I passed some tomatoes and broccoli on to my mum and grandmother so they didn’t go to waste.


This was about one week before transplant day. The two pots furthest back are Marigolds and Zinnias, grown by request from my daughter.

The first weekend of June rolled around and I transplanted everything into the big containers. Originally, this was supposed to be just me and my daughter’s project (my hubby is happy to EAT freshly grown veggies but the gardening aspect just isn’t his cup of tea) but three days prior to planting day, I broke my ankle. So the hubs kicked in some manual labor (hauling five 70lb bags of soil for me!!) and we got it planted. Since I wasn’t planning on having a blog yet, I didn’t take any photos on transplant day. Shucks. But, I have PLENTY of photos for Part 2 of this post – the current state of my container garden in it’s new outdoor location. So stay tuned!

Do any of you have any form of a garden? If so what do you grow?

Fun Fact Friday #1

It’s my first Fun Fact Friday! From here on out, every Friday (with a few possible exceptions) I’ll be posting a fact about. . .anything. Whatever strikes my fancy. Why? Well, I seem to have a knack for remembering extremely irrelevant information, so why not add to that cache?


This week’s fun facts are inspired by the gorgeous front yard full of lilies I currently have. They are in full bloom, and just lovely. So here are a few facts about lilies for you! Happy Weekend everyone!

  • The bulbs and roots of the tiger lily were eaten by Native Americans. This is still done today in many oriental countries. Apparently, they taste like potatoes!
  • Although humans may find the bulbs tasty, ALL parts of a lily are extremely poisonous to cats. Keep away from the feline friends!


  • In ancient Greece, white lilies were so revered they were believed to spout the milk of Hera.
  • The lily is often considered a death flower, which is a misconception. White lilies symbolize purity and innocence. Common at funerals, they represent the souls’ restored innocence after death.


Love having these in my kitchen every day.