Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Gardening 101...or Not

I showed you a quick picture last week of our garden and promised you an update on what has been soaking up a lot of my focus here lately.  I added the "or not" to the title of this post because Hubs and I didn't really do everything like you're supposed to with this garden, so don't follow our example, lol!

This is our very first garden and we were so excited to get going on it.  I've grown tomatoes here and there, and herbs a few times but we've never done a full garden.  By the time we had a chance to breathe after  moving in and felt like we had the time and focus to commit to the garden, and by the time we found a tiller and got our seeds ordered, we were a little late in the game.  You're supposed to till at least a month before you plant...we tilled a couple of days before, you're supposed to add compost and fertilizers and all other sorts of yummy plant food sources to the soil....we planted right in the plain ol' sandy soil, you're supposed to mulch your plants to help hold in the moisture...we didn't do that either.  We just didn't have time to get all that accomplished this go 'round.  We'll work on doing it right the next time around, but for now we just went for it even though we didn't have the "perfect" conditions.  We figured we'd learn as we go.

Here's our little patch of corn.  I took these pictures early last week and that stalk on the left in the front of the picture was about hip-high on me.  Now a week later it's neck high and starting to tassel out.  I think we only lost one corn plant out of about 90.

Our peas on the other hand...they're not doing so good.  They're really a cool weather plant and we knew we were late in planting them, but we went for it just to see what would happen.  They started off awesome, but as soon as the hot weather hit they sort of stopped growing.  You can see in the picture on the right how small the plant is compared to the soaker hose, yet it put out pods already.  The pods are almost bigger than the poor lil' plant, lol!  Since these pictures, we trellised them and they're still struggling along slowly but surely.

On the left you can see our first planting of bush beans.  They're coming along very nicely.  In the upper right you can see a tiny little pod just starting to grow.  And now a week later and there are quite a few that are ready to pick!  You can also see some buttercrunch lettuce there on the bottom right.  It's also a cool weather plant that we went ahead and planted anyways, and it has grown well, but boy does it taste awful!  The heat has made it bitter.  I've found that it's edible, though, if I soak them in baking soda water, rinse them, then let them sit in the fridge for a day or two.  With plenty of salad dressing coating them I can tolerate it.

I guess you could say our garden is pretty much non-GMO and organic.  We ordered our seeds from an heirloom company, and our seed potatoes came from an organic company.  We haven't used any pesticides or insecticides or such like.  When our beans were getting infested with aphids we hand washed the leaves...every.single.day.  We've been hand-picking the worms off of the corn, and setting out ant traps to deal with pesky fire ants that like to make a mound at the base of the plants.

This picture is of our second planting of beans.  They haven't taken off quite as well, and have been a little slow on the uptake.  Though now, a week later and quite a few more of them have poked through.  As I was taking pictures my lil' man buzzed up on his 4-wheeler, hopped off and came running down the row.  "Whatcha doin' Mama?"  "Taking pictures."  "Oh...ok..., bye!"  And off he went.  He's never still for very long.  : )

I dislike gardening gloves and never use them, I prefer to get my fingers right in the dirt.  Gloves just get in my way and I can't feel what I'm doing.  I quite often have dirt ground into my skin despite scrubbing my hands, and most of the time I sport an "earth tips" manicure.  You know, you can go to the salon and spend big bucks on a French tips manicure, but you can get an "earth tips" manicure for free.  :D

On the left in this picture you can see our two rows of potatoes.  They have grown so much already since this picture was taken that I think Hubby is going to have to hill them for a 3rd time!  Now I can see the benefit to container planting them.  On the right you can see we have a row of carrots coming along nicely.

The tomatoes have been a source of aggravation for me.  We tried planting some seeds directly in the soil the first go 'round, even though we had read it's better to start them indoors.  Now we know why they say that.  Not one single one grew.  So then I started some seeds indoors and once the seedlings got to what I thought was big enough, I transplanted them outdoors.  Out of 18 plants, only 3 of them survived.  So then I started MORE seeds indoors, and let them grow even bigger this time before I transplanted them.  Most of them died.  Finally I said phooey on it and just went to Walmart and purchased 4 heirloom plants.  I plan to get a few more as we can afford it.

On the bottom right you can see my first picking of lettuce.

We now have soaker hoses set up on almost all of our rows.  I think we only have two rows that don't yet have them.  They're not cheap!  So each paycheck or so we have bought one or two more as we've been able to afford it and Hubs has them rigged up in an ingenious set up that allows them all to run off of one spigot with equal pressure and each row has a shut off valve to control how much water goes to the individual row.  The spigot is split so that we can also fill a bucket as needed on one side without affecting the hose set up on the other side. I love how men have such mechanical brains.  I never could have thought all of that up, but it works really well.

*Update - I found {this} blog post that is very similar to the set up that Hubs came up with if you're interested. *

During all of this garden work our kiddos have found different ways of entertaining themselves.  They did help us plant a couple of rows of beans and things, and they have occasionally helped pull weeds, but most of the time they wander off once they bet bored.

My littlest one loves to tag along with me and help do the watering.  It's just adorable to watch!  Especially before we had all of our hoses set up and we had to do lots of hand watering every day.  I'd be out there at first light working away and when he woke up he'd put his little boots and jacket on right over his jammies and he'd be tagging along behind me looking adorable as could be with his little sleepy face.  I never had my phone or anything with me at those times though, so I never got a picture of it.

They also find things to do like Florida style sledding!  : )

And after it rains a good bit they've been known to be found playing in the mini-pond it makes in our front yard.

And when there's no puddles to cool off in, Little Man just plops himself right down in the watering bucket!

My next step is going to be to get a pressure canner so I can be ready to can these beans!  
Let the fun begin!  :D

P.S.  I finished up a little project last week that I hope to be able to share with you later this week, and I've been doing some puttering around the living room adding decor and "fluffing my nest."  I'll share that too once I get it finished.



  1. Your younglets are growing like little weeds....toooooo cute!! The garden looks wonderful...pure Florida goodness :^)
    As to the dirty hands....mix a few tablespoons of baking soda in a squeeze bottle of hand soap (not a pump or a foam pump)(I use an old ketchup bottle :^) Shake well until the baking soda dissolves. Shake it each time you use some of it. If the bottle has a pop top (like the ketchup bottles do), you can leave it outside by the faucet! (I usually mix mine with dish detergent, but that can be a little rough on your hands)
    Blessings to you,

  2. I just found your blog a few days ago. Love what you're doing and all the wonderful work on your home.
    In our garden we spray castile soap mixed with water in a sprayer and spray everything. We've been doing this for years and have no bugs at all. Our yard gets a spraying a few times in the summer months and we have no fleas, mosquito's or nasties of any kind. Have a wonderful summer!!!

  3. I was wondering if you could share how your husband has been able to hook all your soaker hoses up to run off of one spigot!?! I have wanted to use this method but can't figure out what I would need to do! Thanks!

    1. Dakota, your account is set up as a "no-reply comment blogger" so I couldn't reply to you directly, so I hope you see this. Do you have an email address? If so, email me at thecozyoldfarmhouse(at)yahoo(dot)com and I'll send you a couple of pictures and try to explain it to you. It really is quite genius. : )

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  5. Stephanie - these pictures of your kiddos are priceless. Your garden looks great! I bet by now you are really bringing in the produce. I love my garden. I tend to plant it too big and then end up working like a demon putting up all the produce!!! But every year I do it all over again! - Dori -


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