Here's the squash I grew from seed. The little squash are finally starting to look like they might be edible someday. the biggest one is about the size of my little finger:
Tomatoes I bought as plants. So far, they are exceptionally fecund. I've lost count of how many tomatoes are there. My chiropractor told me the squirrels won't be interested until they start to turn red, so I have my eye out for that. If they get any, I'll harvest them half-ripe and let them sit in the kitchen window for a couple of days. That's my father-in-law's strategy with his beefsteaks. These are Romas and they are getting bigger than I expected them to. Thumbs up for the self-watering 24" pots:
I bought four sweet pepper plants when they were pretty little, after all the ones I started from seed up and died inexplicably. These are three-color peppers. I wasn't sure how big they would get and if the pot would work out okay (12"). They are doing really well. I only have one pepper so far, but loads of blossoms. And this one grew really fast! In like a week or something, it went from a speck to a recognizable pepper:
I will never have a bumper crop of lima beans I'm afraid. But they have rallied after being bitten down to stubs by squirrels. I have two pots of them and will be lucky if I harvest enough for a single serving. Probably won't bother next year. (Those are chives in the edge of the pot--they are a bumper crop!):
Carrots! Whoo-hoo! I cannot wait to pull these up. I pulled one up the other day and it was about a quarter inch long, so I'm sitting on my hands now. I have this pot of quite mature ones, and a few smaller ones in two window boxes. Oddly, the squirrels have left them alone and tried to dig up the basil planted in a pot next to this instead. Basil???
This is one of my own tomatoes grown from seed. It was about an inch tall 6 weeks ago, which is why I broke down and bought some plants. I couldn't let my seedlings go, however, so I planted the two strongest looking ones. It's looking pretty good now. I doubt it will make it to fruiting stage, but I am using it as a sort of experiment. Next year, I do think I'll do seeds again, but start super early, like in late January or early February. I didn't really start these until about mid-April this year. That's parsley planted around the tomato:
Finally, my prairie! Here are some wildflowers I don't know at all. But they are pretty. You can't see the milk bottle when you look up at the urn they are planted in, but I couldn't take a picture of the sky without losing the detail in the flowers. So pay no attention to the milk bottle:
I was gonna call it, "How To Get Your Kids To Eat Kale" but thought better of it. Because kids--they're a mixed bunch. You just never know. Still, if you want your kids to eat kale and they don't eat it, you're welcome to try my technique.
Time was when Nat had leafy greens daily. Remember Green Supper? Ah the golden days of baby and toddlerhood! These days, I sneak frozen spinach into mac and cheese, spaghetti sauce, under the cheese on the pizza--otherwise they'd never get greens at all. (Selina might, but she suffers from second child syndrome and typically gets whatever Nat's getting, thus fewer greens than Nat got at her age.)
Anyway, I have some kale in one of my back porch window box planters. It's a variety called "perpetual spinach" because it's mild and can be used as a substitute for spinach,but is easier to grow and just keeps going all season.
I have cut it, cooked it, served it raw--none of these things got a thumbs up from the kids (they did from Cole and me, though). Instead, they'd chew it, spit it out, play with it, toss it on the floor and otherwise waste this awesome fresh green that should be in their little bodies fighting oxidants and making them super girls.
Until they were playing outside while I picked it. "I want a leaf!" declared Nat.
"What? This kale?" I asked.
"Yeah, the kale!" she said. I gave her a baby leaf. She gobbled it down. "I want anther one!" she begged.
By now, Selina was at my ankles, whining "Me too! Me too!" (her perpetual battle cry). I stood there pulling them off one leaf at a time until my kale was cut back to the roots. They ate it with gusto. About every three days, I get enough mature leaves to repeat this and so far, they haven't caught on to the fact that this is the same thing they have rejected on a plate time and again.
Kale. The new Ice Cream Truck.
Give it try with yours and let me know how it goes!
These are my squash. It's difficult to see them, and yes, they are teensy, but there are four little squash on the vine so far. This was taken two days ago and the "big" one here in the middle is already twice this size and the next biggest one is this big.
My other squash died after being decimated by a sudden thunderstorm. Its main stem broke and that was all she wrote.
But I am somewhat surprised and definitely pleased by how well the remaining one is doing. Next year, I'll probably plant four of these.
This is the same plant, but I wanted you to see my nifty self-watering bottle. It's a terra cotta stake that goes into the container and then you fill a bottle of water and stick it down in there. These are mineral water bottles I painted to keep the light out so they wouldn't grow too much algae.
Here's one of my tomatoes. Except not really. Fine, I broke down and bought two plants. Both are doing well. They had blossoms when I bought them, which I pruned off. Soon they had more blossoms and now they have green tomatoes. I have about four on each plant now. My actual tomato seedlings are still only about an inch tall. What's up with that? I started them in early April! They are healthy, but only have four leaves each!
Remember the silly milk bottle in the middle of this planter? It's finally doing what I had planned and hiding under the wild flowers. Some are getting buds, including the teddy bear sunflowers I put all around the outer rim.
The lettuce produced beautifully for a month and we had many delicious salads. It's pretty much done now, so I planted carrots in that planter. I also put carrots in the pots where the cucumbers bit it and in the space which held the short-lived and under-producing broccoli raab.
This has nothing to do with gardening. It's Nat's picture of a guitar on her magnadoodle. She was very proud and keen that I take a picture and preserve it forever. I have to say, I am impressed. It's pretty good for a magnadoodle, don't you think? She drew it from life, copying her ukulele:
The lettuce, kale and broccoli raab are doing well (in fact, the broccoli is in the fridge awaiting the wok):
The peas died after I put them outside a month or so ago. I direct planted new seeds in the pots and got new seedlings, plus the dead ones I'd cut down came back! Now my peas are small but mighty:
My cucumbers are absolutely dead and my lima beans are mostly dead--in fact,t he lima beans seem to have some kind of blight. There is definitely something wrong with the leaves. I stuck new seeds down in these pots too--both the cukes and the lima beans. We will see. If they grow, it will be September before I harvest anything...
The bok choy was A) overcrowded and B) getting too much sun? Or something? Anyway, long before it started looking like anything I would recognize as bok choy, it has bolted. Which is bittersweet because the flowers are pretty. I'm going to let them do their thing and then pull them all up and plant something else there--probably more kale.
I moved this box into a shadier spot and put the box with strawberry seeds (not yet sprouted) in the sun. I'm probably going to break down and buy strawberry plants. I'm also going to have to buy pepper plants, because my pepper seedlings died just from having the window opened on their window sill! The tomato seedlings, on the other hand, share a tray with the pepper seedlings and growing very slowly, but are standing up to the open window just fine. Maybe I'll buy one plant in case the seedlings bite it when transferred, but maybe they'll make it.
Meanwhile my "fun" planter, this big concrete urn on one of the balconies, is full of seedlings I got from shaking some of those random wild flower seeds in it. Lo and behold, who knew windshield wiper fluid was a native prairie grass???
Just kidding! That's my drip watering device. I stuck about six pinholes around a milk bottle, filled it with water (in this case, water with blue plant food in it) and buried it halfway in the urn. I figure the flowers and grass will grow up around it and hide it, but I can water it by filling the bottle. By the way, the larger of the seedlings here are transplanted sunflowers, so that's one thing that didn't die in the great migration outside.
Oh yes, and the squashes seem like they will probably pull through. Lost about 90% of their large leaves the first week out, then I learned to look at the weather and see the wind speed predictions and put them down by the patio wall to shelter them on high wind days. They got some baby leaves growing and are putting out buds now.
Lesson learned: direct-sow the early things and buy baby plants for the late things. Seeds don't save any money if it all dies and I have to buy plants later anyway. The whole "hardening" thing is just not working out for me. Any tips?
It's even in bloom. I was reading the literature that came with it (the brochure promising that I will "experience abundance and happiness") and it said to snip off the blooms in the first year to encourage growth and I was all sad. Then I remembered that I got a 2-3 year tree instead of a one-year tree, so I can leave the flowers. They smell delicious!
Now that I'm a farmer, I take an interest in something called "hardiness zones" which tell me how cold it can get where I am planting and what will and will not grow there. I never knew what zone I was in until recently. It seems I am in zone 6. But here's the thing: a couple of years ago I would have been in zone 5. In 2006, they changed the zones, because some places had warmed up so much. I found a nifty, but worrying animation of the shift in zones from 1990 to 2006 here. Check it out. It kinda gives me the willies.