Video

Shake & Bloom Surprise

When we started our garden early March we used Shake & Bloom to get a combination of flowers started. Here we are in May and the containers have lots of leaves but no sign of flowers. After realizing that the plants may be overcrowded I decided to thin them out.  However, when I went in with my shears we made a surprising discovery. Watch our video to see what we found.

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Garden Fresh

For about three weeks now we’ve dealt with tiny garden issues.  First, we had ants in our garden bed. Then, we had something eating the cucumber leaves. Finally, our basil and cilantro looked like a baseball was smashed into the center of the pots leaving the plants to dive out of the way.  I’ll go into more detail on that next post because after damage control on those tiny issues we have a small bounty!

Last weekend my husband, my two little bugs, and I harvested radishes.  Bug and Ladybug both voluntarily tried a bite of radish. Neither liked it but let me stress that they both asked to try a radish.  They. Asked!  I was in awe that we didn’t have to employ any of the tactics that usually fail.  Generally we have to coax, bribe, or sometimes trick the kids into trying new foods.  How cool that one of our most important goals with this family project is already being met only two months in?!  I’m beyond excited but I couldn’t express this to my kids for fear that they’d want to rebel and go back to their old ways. Even after they spit out the radish they again asked to try the still growing black seeded simpson lettuce.  Bug decided that this lettuce was delicious and that all kids should try it. OMG proud mother over here!

Tonight before the thunderstorms hit our area I was able to harvest some basil and cilantro.  The cilantro isn’t enough for anything but garnish but we will sure as heck use it in our homemade pico de gallo tomorrow.  Although I don’t know what I’m making yet, you better believe I’ll be using basil in tomorrow’s dinner.  There’s even enough to make a small batch of pesto. Feel free to share your favorite recipes using basil in the comments below.

Happy Gardening!

~Ladybug Elsa

Building a Raised Garden Bed

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Consistently seeing the raised garden bed square-foot method being touted as a beginner-friendly method online and in books made us decide on just that.  I had even found some 4′ x 4′ cedar kits available at Home Depot.  Only down side for us was the price; we really didn’t want to spend too much on the garden bed when we really didn’t know how well our gardening would work out.  My husband was great in selecting the supplies to make us an inexpensive and effective garden bed.  Once we gathered all our supplies, including organic soil, we paid a little under $180 at Home Depot.

Supplies Purchased at Home Depot

 

Supplies At Hand

  • Work Gloves
  • Garden Tool Set (Pruning shears, cultivator, and trowel)
  • Water hose
  • cardboard boxes (used in place of a weed barrier liner )
  • Power Drill
  • Long Drill Bit
  • Hammer
  • Power saw (to cut two timbers into 3ft pieces for the end)

 

Building Our Garden Bed

Building our garden bed from start to finish took us roughly an hour and a half. And that was with two little bugs helping out when possible. If you’re handy with tools it may only take you an hour, but if you’re a newbie with tools take your time and plan on working the afternoon.

  • We decided on a 3ft x 8ft raised bed so my husband spaced on the timbers. Notice how the area I chose is sloped; you want to start out with a level area if at all possible.  You’ll see our fix after he places the end pieces he leveled out the bed; we can’t have a lopsided garden because the rain would wash away all our hard work.

   Before moving on, my husband cut the remaining two timbers into 3ft pieces for the ends.  Unfortunately I did not get a picture of that since I was working on assembling the soaker hose at that time.

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  • He then pre-drilled holes in the ends of the long timbers.  The hole was only made halfway through the bottom timber to make nailing the stake easier. The end walls were staked in the middle; take a look at at the picture with the cardboard for a better view of what I mean.

The stakes you see on the outside of the timbers are just to keep them temporarily in place until all four ends have been pre-drilled. imageimage

 

 

  • We placed the washer on top of the timber and then the stake through both the washer and pre-drilled hole; this is to keep the stake from going straight through the timbers.

  My Little Ladybug had fun helping her Papi hammer while our Bug did well on his own.

 **Kids should be supervised at all times during this project. We recommend they only help with a knowledgeable adult.**

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  •  Once the frame was complete and leveled, we put cardboard all along the bottom.  I forgot to take a picture, but we wet the cardboard to keep it from moving while we poured the soil.

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  • Here is what the garden bed looks like after the soil and the soaker hose was dug in about 1/2″ deep long oval.  I have since dug up the soaker hose and reworked it to have three hose running down the bed similar to the image from the SoakerPRO’s instructions. Save yourself and follow their directions.soakerPro

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  • In this picture below you can see how we used pieces of scrap wood we had from another project to level out the right side of the garden bed.  We temporarily placed additional pieces of wood to keep the soil from pushing out the soggy cardboard. So far we haven’t had any issues with the integrity of the walls.

Once the soil was evenly watered and damp I transplanted some of our veggies and herb seedlings.  In the left back corner with the fan trellis I have tomato, basil, and tomatillo. I also transplanted some cucumber seedlings to the right back corner with the metal pot trellises.

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  •  Ta-da! What our garden looks like from our side patio.

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  •  A few days later I created a grid for easier tracking and planting.  If you space out nails every 12″ you can get 24 square plots for gardening. Since I wanted the back corner plants to have more space I made those squares 1.5ft instead of just 12″ which gives me a total of 21 plots.  For my garden I tied yarn on opposite nails to create the grid lines. I even made sure to hammer the nails over so no one accidentally gets hung up on a nail while gardening.  You could use something more sturdier like thin synthetic rope.  IMG_0247

 

Please post your comment below if you have any questions and I’ll get back to you as soon as I get a chance.

Happy Gardening!

~Ladybug Elsa~

 

Disclaimer: In no way am I sponsored or compensated by the companies mentioned above.  Their identification is solely for my tracking purposes and in the spirit of full disclosure.

 

A Few Points for Reference

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The two reference books I bought on Amazon that pertain to my region; South Central Texas.

My enthusiasm to start gardening overshadowed my logical thinking leading me to make some easily avoidable errors.  If you’re like me and starting out with gardening for the very first time it would behoove you to do a tiny bit of research ahead of time.  But if you’re like me, you might read a site or two and think you’ve got this gardening thing down.  I’ll share what I learned to save you some time and heart-ache.

DO

  • Read about what plants grow best in your area. In Texas we have different farming/planting regions in this state alone. Our region is considered South Central Texas and what grows here may not grow well outdoors in North Texas. Two resources I ordered off of Amazon that have great info for my region are “Texas Fruit and Vegetable Gardening”, by Greg Grant and “Texas Organic Vegetable Gardening”, by J. Howard Garrett & C. Malcolm Beck.* The more you read the better prepared you are for what’s to come. (Sounds simple enough, but it was something I totally did not do.)
  • Plan ahead. You may end up transplanting some of your seedlings so you’ll need to have the supplies when it’s time to dig in. This is when you decide how much time and work you want to invest into your garden.  During this last week we’ve had to make a make-shift tent to protect our raised garden bed from the severe thunder storms that rolled in.  Is this something you’re willing to do at a moments notice? If so, then don’t be afraid to sown more than a handful of plants.  If not, you may be better off starting smaller with two-three varieties. Of course your space is a big factor; do you want an indoor herb garden or do you want it outdoor? Just some things to think about.
  • Most importantly, have fun. Every morning my kids wake up as excited as I do to see what has sprouted and what needs tending. It’s exciting to have my little ones helping out and asking questions. When they ask something I don’t know I’m not afraid to tell them that I have to look it up. We’re all learning how to care for our vegetable and herb garden and that’s part of the fun.

 

DON’T

  •  Use a whole packet of seeds in one pot.  You can very well use one packet for more than one growing season; usually you only need about 3-4 seeds per spot/flower pot to grow a plant. I ended up with a bazillion Sweet Banana Pepper seedlings in a 12″ flower pot and now I have to transplant a few and then discard the rest. If I’m lucky some of my family members may want to take some of the other ones. I feel terrible trashing some because I didn’t do my research ahead of time. Plus, I just wasted money. Ugh! Definitely not something I want to do.
  • Be afraid to pick seeds out of your comfort zone. My husband helped pushed me into sowing tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and peppers by buying the seed packets. Initially, my intention was just an herb garden but you know what, I’m even more excited to see if we can get veggies growing in our backyard.
  • Give up if you’re not sure what to do next. Just remember why you started your garden in the first place and go back to your planning stage for some more research.  If you’re not sure where to start I’d be more than happy to help or direct you to some resources for your issue. Just email me at LadybugElsa@gmail.com

 

Happy Gardening!

~LadybugElsa~

 

Disclaimer: In no way am I sponsored or compensated by the companies mentioned above.  Their identification is solely for my tracking purposes and in the spirit of full disclosure.

Let’s Do This!

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Our containers were sown using seed packets.

A couple of weeks ago we had a warm breezy weekend here in our historical city of San Antonio, Texas.  This was my opportunity to dive right into gardening; I had flower pots, seeds, and potting soil specifically for vegetables and fruits.  My thought was, “What else do I really need?  Instructions are on the back of the packets with all the information I need, right?” Of course I was ready! An experienced gardener would be snorting in derision at my naiveté. Go ahead, laugh, my feelings won’t be hurt.

Some of our seed had previously been purchased at one of Target’s after season sales. Woohoo! $4 for each starter kit; we bought 3.  Each kit contained three different types of “companion” herbs/fruit.  In gardening terms “companion” means the plants are mutually beneficial by helping repel pests of the other plant by attracting insects that prey on their companion’s unwanted visitors. Here’s where an experienced gardener would say, “Not too shabby with the lingo!” Don’t be too impressed, though, I didn’t originally know that the herbs/fruit were specifically grouped as companions.  I found out much later but I’ll get to that in a future post.

The rest of our seeds were from packets my husband purchased at HEB’s garden department; for you non-Texans, HEB is a Texas grocery chain.

My older sister’s two boys were visiting us for the weekend so they were roped in with our excitement to sow our herb and veggie seeds. It was great seeing the excitement all the kids brought to our family project.  My two year old was very attentive to my instructions, while my son was a bit more independent and tried to jump ahead to pour out the seeds into his container.  My nephews had already done experienced planting beans for a school project.  All-in-all everyone learned something new while having fun.

After about an hour, all four kids (ages range from 2yrs to 10yrs) were done with their kits and headed to play in the backyard while I sowed the rest of the seeds.

Three hours later while we stood back to admire our seemingly completed work, it hit me. OMG! How am I going to get them to grow, and more importantly keep them alive?!  I’ve mentioned before I have unwittingly killed plants, so I had to do quick and serious research before our seeds started sprouting but I’ll leave that for the next post.

Below you will find the seeds and supplies we used.

~Ladybug Elsa~

 

Seeds sown Saturday, February 20, 2016:

            Seed Type (Seed Brand)

  •  Basil, Sweet (Target Herb Kit & Ferry-Morse)
  • Bell Pepper
  • Cucumber (Burpee Pickle Barrel Hybrid)
  • Jalapeño (Target Kit)
  • Lavender, Munstead (Ferry-Morse) **I loooove the scent of lavender!**
  • Mint (Target Kit)
  • Parsley (Burpee Organic)
  • Shake & Bloom, Flower Mix (Target)
    • Bachelor Buttons
    • Queen Anne’s Lace
    • Corn Poppy
    • Daisy
  • Thyme (Target Kit)
  • Tomatillo (Target Kit)
  • Tomato, Roma (Target Kit)

Other Supplies

  • Miracle-Gro Garden Soil for Flowers & Vegetables
  • Assortment of flower pots
  • Repurposed plastic containers, including a halloween pumpkin pail
  • Gardening Spade
  • White plastic knives (used as plant markers)
  • Permanent marker (used to label markers)
  • Water
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These biodegradable wholly plantable pots were a part of the Target Kits.

Disclaimer: In no way am I sponsored or compensated by the companies mentioned above.  Their identification is solely for my tracking purposes and in the spirit of full disclosure.

Our New Family Adventure

imageMy husband’s family and my family both come from farmers and we both spent time around our grandparents’ ranch or land.  Along with my cousins, I chased chickens and got dirty playing near the pond on my grandparents’ land in Mexico.  On the other hand, my husband actually worked on his grandparent’s Louisiana farm before and after school.

Cultivating land and crops may be in my genes but in the past while I’ve attempted to keep plants (ivy, cactus) alive I have some how managed to kill them.  While these plants were supposed to be great beginner plants I just wasn’t ready to care for a plant.  So when we decided to start gardening vegetables and herbs we expected family and friends to ask why, but surprisingly they all expressed they would love to start their own garden.

With kids of our own now, my husband and I decided to start this garden to do something together as a family and to teach our children the invaluable life lessons that go along with tending a garden. And maybe, just maybe, we can get them to eat more vegetables.