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.)

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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!

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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.

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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!

Planting, Pots, and Painting

Spring has finally arrived here in NH. 90% of the snow is gone, the temps have hit 50+, and it is so gorgeous! I can’t wait for everything to start greening up.

We’ve been going on a bit of planting spree to get our seedlings started (we grow all our veggies direct from seed) and get some flowers and herbs going in pots. I wanted to do some more things indoors this year, so we decided to do a few new attempts.

First we snagged some plain terra cotta pots for my little to have. Of course, they had to be decorated. She was thrilled to be able to use ‘grown up’ paint and pick out her own colors.

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One painted, we planted radishes in the bigger pot, and marigolds in the small pot, which will eventually be transferred to the garden. Marigolds are pretty much the perfect garden plant – they attract bees to pollinate, but deter harmful bugs and pests. We’ve got more pots of them growing for transplants too!




Then we took some mason jars (we used tall quart size, but any big size would work) and planted some basil, lavender, and cat grass! The cat grass is more an experiment to see if our cats would actually eat it. It has grown incredibly quickly, and our kitties love it! We are now planting more in a large planter outside so when we take our big kitty on outdoor excursions he can munch away.




First basil sprouts!

Lots of lavender coming – gonna need a trim!

In regular seed starters we’ve got our tomato and broccoli seedlings going. The little went just a tad overboard on the seeding, and this batch is clearly going to need some thinning!


Our first broccoli sprouts just popped up yesterday. We are going to be building our first raised bed in the coming weeks – I’m so excited! Posts on that adventure for sure, and definitely more plant updates!

If you have a garden, what do you grow? I’m looking into adding a container raspberry bush and planting strawberries – any advice?


Last Week We. . .

I was a serious blog slacker last week. I did put up two posts, but they were the LAST two post I had done. Usually I do batch posts when I work so I have a bunch on reserve, but last week (*cough cough* and the week before *cough cough*) I completely let it slide. Basically I moved into art land and have yet to move out. It would seem my muse has taken permanent residence on my shoulder because all I’ve wanted to do when I have free time is draw draw draw. Which I am totally loving. As previously stated in a post I can’t share any of the new art here since it is all Christmas gifts and commissions. . .but I am working on a just for fun piece that should be done by the end of the week so that will be up soon!

However, despite my want to do nothing but draw all day, I did manage to get some real life things done as well.

One very spackley wall.

I got my half of my living room walls spackled. I think I went a little overboard with my spackling but I wanted to make sure every. teeny. tiny. hole. was filled in. And by golly, I did. I’m beginning to prime them this week, but it’s going to have to be done in sections so I can try and work around when my daughter is at Mimi’s house. Paint fumes and toddlers probably shouldn’t mix. . .


We got our last carrots this week and only had one mutant! My little miss was so confused when she pulled it up. She stared at it in silence and I could just see her thinking, ‘I know this was supposed to be a carrot. It’s colored like a carrot. But that is NOT a carrot.’ Needless to say, I chopped that one up for my salad and she ate the other two!

One teeny tiny ripened tomato!

This was the only tomato that actually ripened on the plant. The rest I have plucked off and are window ripening because my tomato plants are officially dead. It’s been a downhill battle for awhile now. Bottom line, they needed more room. Now I know for next year; sorry my poor tomato plants! However I have about fifteen viable tomatoes as long as they ripen up!

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And then on Friday we had a sleepover with our besties and took the kiddos to the park. Then after our girls bedtime in classic sleepover tradition we lounged on the couch in pajamas and played video games, FINALLY beating Mario for the WiiU. Seriously you should have seen our victory dance. It’s unrivaled.

The weekend was pretty laid back. Our daughter had her open house for gymnastics on Saturday morning and that was tons of fun. We got to go in and play around on all the equipment (well, for her age group) – low beam, the low uneven bars, the ‘bouncy floor’ as my daughter has dubbed it (for tumbling) and even the trampoline. She is now beyond excited to start class. I’m really hoping I’ll be allowed to take some pictures. . .I still have to check with the parents and the coaches but maybe they’ll be some!

How did you spend your week?

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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?