Gymgirl's blog

My 2016 Garden Journal - MAY
Posted on May 2, 2016 3:18 PM

May 1, 2016, Overcast. 81°
►Canned four & one 1/2 pints of beets. They'd been in the garden so long, I thought they wouldn't be OK to can. But, after a night in the slow cooker, they looked just like any other beet I've canned, LOL!
►I washed and trimmed all the beet greens, too, then, put them on the dehydrator for ~6 hours. Turned it off and went to bed. When I checked them Sunday mid-morning, they had absorbed moisture again (from the humid garage?), so, I had to run it for another six hours.
NOTE TO SELF: Greens left on the dehydrator will reabsorb moisture...Remove and process immediately...
I ran batches of the dried leaves through a spice grinder, and 9 trays yielded almost a full half-pint of powder. It smells amazingly like gumbo file. Can't wait to start sprinkling it in my smoothies, and on dishes I cook.
►The overcast sky has been kind to the 13 transplanted eggplants. I have plans to bread thick slices of eggplant and vacuum seal for the freezer. I may try to dehydrate some, too, but, something tells me it's gonna take forever to dry them out...We'll see! Meanwhile, I just found a recipe for dehydrated eggplant BACON!!! Tah Dah!!!

NOTE: I found a YouTube video on refreshing the potting soil inside the EB. It was a total timesaver! I just have to find some flashing and my putty knife!
In the future, regardless of whether I'm using the boxes as a seed bed or not, they've got to have a bonnet or hoop over them to keep out the squirrels and the moths. Also, I need to be diligent about applying the Sluggo Plus for the snails. They are threatening a takeover!

Still didn't get to the green beans. And, either the plants are yellowing because they're shutting down from not being harvested, or, they're water-logged from all our rain...

May 9, 2016, OVERCAST with bright patches, 81°
Once again, life gets in the way. My beloved niece, who's spent the past two years battling a very aggressive, very rare cancer, has been diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Leukemia (MDS). The good news is that, in the past two years, the original cancer (tumor) shrank from 16.3 cm to 2.8 cm. over the course of 8 rounds of very powerful chemo, and she's out of the woods with that, for now.

The bad news is that this Leukemia, and the "Sweet" syndrome she's had for the past 4 months, are by-products of the powerful chemo she took for the tumor. The "Sweet" syndrome causes her to break out in painful lesions on her face, and now her neck and chest...She also experiences pain in her bones from that..

The good news is that the MDS is the same thing that ABC host Robin Roberts had, and she's good to go.
The bad news is there seems to be more chemo in my niece's very near future.
The good news is that God is very much aware of what's going on, and how the story ends...
The bad news is that He isn't telling us just yet...

May 10, 2016, Sunshiny and humid, 73°
Too much Google can be a bad thing, sometimes... I am much encouraged after speaking directly with my niece, to get the Drs. report. It helped to sort out all the Google info.
They're not overly concerned about the fungal pneumonia that's been diagnosed with a chest x-ray and CT scan. They'll hit that with meds, and move on to the more aggressive Stem Cell transplant. Moving fast, here, and that's much appreciated! Mom (a 5-point match) will be most likely donor, or search the gene-pool for a 10-point match. We are very encouraged, but sober enough to know the road ahead will be very bumpy. Drs. have said most likely a 6-month road....

May 11, 2016, Sunshiny & warm 80°
The wheels of progress move slowly, even when they're moving fast. Scheduled for a bronchoscopy at 10am today, but, wasn't seen until 4pm, after fasting since 10pm last night. Can you say "STARVING?" The food service (me) delivered her favorite fried chicken dinner and peach cobbler to her and mom, curbside. She managed to not go off on anyone in the bronchoscopy dept., which, in itself, is a minor miracle, LOLOL!

May 12, 2016, Sunshiny & cloudy, 86°
They are starting chemo tonight...

May 17, 2016, Clear, 80°
Had a way late start behind a muscle relaxer that had me extremely woozie most of the day..

Pulled the ratty Kellogg's Breakfast tomato vines. Left one that had only 3 sizable tomatoes on it. Cleared out the Contender green beans bed. Didn't keep any pods cuz the rain rotted most of them. I'll start fresh again next time.

Harvested all the remaining beets, and, cleaned and processed them to the slow cooker overnight. This second harvest yielded more than the first. Will can them tomorrow.

Mowed and edged the yard.
Direct Sowed 142 Pink Eye Purple Hull Pea seeds in raised bed (RB) #1;, and
Direct sowed "Betty's White" okra seeds in RB #2 where the beets were;

My niece went home late this evening. 10 rounds of chemo in FIVE days. No nausea, praise God!!!

May 18, 2016, Clear, 80°
No exact match on the Bone Marrow Registry. Several 9 point matches, but, we need a 10 out of 10...Plan "B" is a cord blood transplant...need much prayer...

May 19, 2016, Hazy, 80°
My eyes keep leaking today...feeling a little helpless. My Pandora "Halleluia Anyhow" Radio station is helping to lift my spirit...
Peeped outside. The eggplants are establishing themselves. Gotta top the pepper plants, soon, so they'll make sturdy "trees".

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My 2016 Garden Journal - April
Posted on Apr 4, 2016 1:49 PM

April 3, Sunny and bright
"WE BE JAMMIN'' - Again!

Well, I needed to address the rest of the #LOQUAT meat in the fridge. Wasn't at all worried about spoilage, because, if it had fermented, then, it was gonna become WINE, LOL! But, I keep the fridge so cold, most things don't spoil.

Interesting discovery. In addition to the 6-quart crock pot full of processed meat, I had a bag of whole fruits I hadn't de-seeded. I fully expected the opposite of what I actually found. The whole fruits had completely lost all their flavor, even the sweet ones I had picked. But, the processed meat in the crock was as sweet as the day I picked them. Go figure!

I addressed the issue I had with the first two batches, namely, the large pieces of skins in the jam. So, this time I simmered the WHOLE crock of meat in a pot with 1 cup of water, for almost 1 hour on low. Then, I hit it with the immersion stick, and completely broke up the meat and skins. It was still like slightly chunky applesauce, minus any large skins. From there, I measured out what I needed, and proceeded with the recipe.

I also saved myself a step for next time since I won't have to simmer down the fruits. I can vacuum seal the slurry I have left, and freeze it for my next batch (es).

NOTE TO SELF: Make sure you have ALL the ingredients before you begin. Then, you won't have to go borrow a lemon from your neighbor's tree at 9:30 at night. Good thing he's a good neighbor, LOL!

#Cardamom is growing on me, so I added just a pinch more to the normal 1/4 tsp. called for in the recipe.

Can't wait to taste this new batch!

Uh, didn't even go into the veggie garden all weekend long...

April 4, Sunny and bright
Fed and watered everything in the garden. The #Contender Green Beans are filled with purple blossoms, and stand almost 3' tall. I expect green beans in the next three weeks, which gives me time to get the canning equipment ready!

April 5, Sunny and bright
For the first time in over 4 months, I simply stood in one spot outdoors, did a 360° turn, and enjoyed the veggie garden. I didn't pick up a shovel, a garden fork, a 50 lb. bag of anything, a pruner, or the lawn mower or edger. No mosquito tried to eat me alive. There was a cool breeze under the patio cover, and the sun was golden as it set over the west fence. All the beds were watered, and all the veggies looked happy. There was order.

And it was totally sweet.

APRIL 9, Overcast, but, bright. Sprinkles for about 3 minutes...rain coming.
The most I could muster was a walkabout. I watered everything, cause I don't believe the weather man..

►The #Contender Green Beans are starting to make beans! I saw one small pod...I uncovered them so when it DOES rain, these'll be watered well.
►The #Bull's Blood and #Detroit Dark Red beets are actually making roots, although, they're suspect cause they've been growing so long. Might be woody...I uncovered the bed so when it DOES rain, these'll be watered well.

►The two #Matt's Wild Cherries are loaded with M&M size fruits.
►The two #Siouxs in containers on the north fence have mandarin orange size fruits and lots of healthy growth.
►the one #Sioux in RB #3 is still deciding...
►The three #Kellogg's Breakfasts in RB #1 are also still deciding. They'growing taller, with LOTS of suckers. I pinched off smaller ones, and cut off a couple large suckers and branches. A couple blooms, but, doesn't look established yet. Could be our wonky weather, and the cooler nights. Once it gets consistently hot, they should take off.
►Anita's three NOIDS have small fruits, but, they don't look well-established either. I did plop a whole bag of Black Kow composted manure on the top of this bed before transplanting. Hope it's just the cool nights. I also need to decide what to plant on the back side of this bed. Only 4 tomato plants on the east side. Should've planted them to the back (west) of the bed. I might go ahead and put the purple hulls on the back side of the tomatoes. At least they'll get some shade from the sun. And, if these tomatoes don't make it, the TPPEPHs will get LOTS of sunshine, LOL!

►In containers on the south fence are moving right along, and looking stronger. Might get a handful after all!

►In RB #4 are trying. Can't figure out if it's the Black Kow Composted manure or the cool nights that's causing the stall. I'm hoping it's the cool nights. The smallest plant out of the five is covered with small peppers. Go figure...Need to decide what to grow on the last 1/3 of this 15' bed. Spaced the peppers out further than last season.

April 13, Overcast & RAIN!
It must've rained last night because everything seems to have gotten a good drenching.
►Picked three tiny #Matt's Wild Cherries a day ago. Tart!
►#Sioux and #Kellogg's Breakfast blooms coming on waaaay slowly -- but, they're there.
►Will probably pull the beets this weekend and start new seeds in RB #5 in the shade. Still trying for some roots to pickle, but, I can settle for the greens, too! Will plant the TPPEPHP where the beets were, and more cowpeas behind the 4 toms in RB #3.
►Might throw more carrot seeds in the vacant end of the bell pepper bed. Or not...

April 16, Overcast & sprinkles!
Raced out to cut the yard before the rain that never, I cut the front lawn, too.

Spent the rest of the time consolidating the compost bins. Still not trusting the weatherman, so, went ahead and watered all the layers of leaves and coffee grounds, and fed the tomatoes and peppers. Put a thick layer of almost-finished compost on the vacant end of RB #5. Still trying to figure out what to put there...

Discovered there are far more #Contender Green Beans ready than I thought! Gotta get the canning equipment ready...

Have become more convinced than ever that it all begins with the soil biology, and adding organics is key. If the soil is not teeming with healthy life, the soil is not healthy or alive...consequently, the plants won't be healthy or alive...'nuff, I will be throwing everything I can at the compost pile. But, I truly have to find an alternative to having to turn the Geogins. It is back-breaking. Once I up the organics additives, I may have to go Patrick Dolan's plugging route. That and keeping the compost moist enough.

Piddled with some of the potted plants, and transplanted in a #canna lily from the Houston Urban Gardener's giveaway table. Hope the bloom is as tropical as they promised! I need a color besides green in the yard.

April 18, RAIN, RAIN & more RAIN!
We got a boatload of rain over the city. Much needed everywhere, but, lots of flooding, too. I almost had to bail water from my patio. The French drains weren't clear and water was creeping toward the sill. Once I cleared them, all was well. Walked to the corner and both our street drains were running freely, thank God, cause the water would've overflowed into the den!!!

But, lots of people have been displaced from their homes. And, so sad to see some of the same areas that were hit a year ago, hit again. Folks were standing on brand new hardwoods covered with brand new flood water...

I thank God for His mercy on my neighborhood, friends, and family.

Since I was land-locked, I made Ree Drummond's #Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup for the first time. I hit the spot on the dreary, rainy day!

April 27, Bright but overcast in patches
Last week was horrendous with rain. Much of the residential areas of Cypress, Bellaire, and Greenspoint flooded. The Acres Homes and the Greenspoint apartment complexes ER responses (or, lack thereof) were too reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina, and were very painful to watch. TV was also flooded with disaster pics. Too much to take in. I stopped watching TV by Thursday. Everything was sunshiny by Thursday evening. Friday was gorgeous, but, Saturday evening thru Sunday afternoon started clouding up, again.

Sunday evening at 3pm there was a deluge! It stormed, and there were reports of several funnel clouds in the area. What's amazing is that the garden had already started looking like it needed a good watering again, from the Monday storms, LOL! I had been thinking I hated to have to go out and dump water on it. "New mercies, every day!"

Needless to say, I hadn't done anything outdoors except walkabouts all week long. There are mature #Contender Green Beans that need picking, and I need to harvest the beets and transplant the #eggplants. Plus, the grass has grown (with the weeds) at least 2-3" this week...

Lots to do in the garden!
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April 29, Overcast, in patches. Sprinkles at 10 a.m., then sunshine the rest of the day! 81°
►Harvested the beets that had sizable roots. Processed them to the slow cooker. Will can them tomorrow.
►Processed the beet greens to the dehydrator. Will powder them in a spice grinder, and use as a sprinkle in smoothies
►Transplanted 13 eggplants. Six in RB #3, behind the tomato plants. Three in the old rose bed. One in a SmartPot.
Three in Earthboxes.
►Fed and watered the peppers
►Brought in two Sioux tomatoes to finish ripening on the windowsill. First tomatoes of the season (besides all those little Matt's Wild Cherry M&Ms I eat soon they turn red -- yard candy!
►Chopped and dropped garden cuttings to the compost cans. Since I added the torn up cardboard, the cans are FILLED with fat earthworms!!! And lots of baby earthworm pods, too!
►Mowed the yard.

Pooped....didn't even touch the green beans...

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My 2016 Garden Journal - March
Posted on Mar 2, 2016 8:59 AM

March 1 75° - Overcast, but, bright

Folks say you can't start beets inside and transplant them out, because they don't like that long taproot disturbed.Which is why I start them in the wide-mouth, 6 oz. yogurt cups. Just tip 'em over and set the entire root ball. No disturbance.
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I continue to be amazed. The beets I transplanted last Saturday looked like death warmed over when I set them in. This was the set that never got separated into individual yogurt cups. They were a tangled mess. However, I peeped under the hoop cover yesterday, and those beets are standing up at attention, as crisp as if they had been direct sown there!!!

So, now I'll go ahead and transplant the remaining 2/3 of the 4x8 bed. There are still some poor, tired, huddled masses, but, I also have a batch that are growing in individual cups. They look great already, so I'm not really worried about them...maybe I should be...Murphy's Law?

Hugs! ^ Smiling ^^ Smiling ^

March 7 68° - Overcast; Heavy thunderstorms predicted in next two days...

Sick in bed for the past 3 days. Haven't had a voice since Friday morning. Feeling better, today.

I put a press on Saturday afternoon, when I thought I was better...

Contenders are all up. Transplanted all the beets. Reworked both compost bins. Raked leaves, edged and mowed. Collapsed, in bed, again, LOL!

Thumb of 2016-03-07/Gymgirl/ba32ff Thumb of 2016-03-07/Gymgirl/0f8da2
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I laid a thick sheet of clear plastic on the bed after I sowed the beans. The sun solarized the soil underneath, and the plastic kept the squirrels from digging up the beans. Then I covered the entire bed under a hoop covered with perforated plastic sheeting. It stayed pretty warm under there. The green beans are standing up about 3 inches tall as of today.

The weather is wonky all over. I think we're through with winter, and, I'm moving on, calculatedly, with springtime.

You should know that I actually transplanted two sets of beet transplants.

Early on, inside, I separated a couple trays of the seedlings into individual yogurt cups, and put them back under the lights to continue growing. Life (and a death) interrupted this process for the remaining seedlings, which grew into tangled clumps. I transplanted the individual seedlings first. This last several batches went in as clumps. For each cup of tangled seedlings, I dug a fairly deep hole, set the whole tangled root ball down, and pressed it in firmly. I set these clumps fairly close together, since I don't expect to get beetroots at this point. But, I DO anticipate tons of beet greens, which are delicious, cooked!
Thumb of 2016-03-21/Gymgirl/3d7340(l)TRANSPLANTED CLUMPS OF BEETSThumb of 2016-03-21/Gymgirl/f58deb(r)BEETS IN YOGURT CUPS

I think I have my pill bug population under control, so, I'm going to just toss out beet seeds (for the first time) close to the end of summer. The waning heat will help the seeds germinate, and they'll grow into the cool of the fall. As much as I hate it, I'll thin the seedlings from there. That way, I should get a good crop of beetroots to can during the winter.

Hope this helps!

March 10 77° Drizzerable.
Well, the monsoons moved in early Wednesday morning. I sweated bullets all night, because I left trays of tomato seedlings out in the open, and expected to see them scattered all over the yard. However, God, in His infinite mercy, kept them safe in their trays. It rained off and on through this evening, and I never got out to check the damage...I peeped out the window...

March 11 77° Overcast, but brightening.
I did an early morning walkabout to survey the rainstorm damage, and, am happy to report, THERE IS NONE!
►The tomato trays are filled with rainwater, but, hey, they'll live!
►The Contender green beans are looking outstanding. The beans are standing about 6" with a large set of true leaves!
Thumb of 2016-03-12/Gymgirl/680c76 Thumb of 2016-03-12/Gymgirl/4a1f93
►The Beets transplanted two weeks ago are all standing up, so I definitely will get beet greens for the freezer!Thumb of 2016-03-12/Gymgirl/dd59f0 The beets transplanted last weekend look pitiful, but, they'll stand up in a few more days, too.Thumb of 2016-03-12/Gymgirl/2aa82c

►Need to harvest more collards & spinach.
►Cucumber seedlings sowed in the Earthboxes are up, and looking exceedingly strong. Need a trellis in place, ASAP!Thumb of 2016-03-21/Gymgirl/19d963

Trellis for the cukes!
Install a 2nd overhead wire on the Mittleider in-the-garden greenhouse
Rip the broccoli plants, and replace with tomatoes and peppers.
Consolidate the small planters into a couple of large ones.

March 12 76° Bright and breezy.
Late start. Feeling pukey.
►Refreshed some potting mix into a couple of large planters.
►Transplanted two #Sioux and two #Matt's Wild Cherry tomatoes into large planters.
►Watered the beets and vented the hoop. The breeze has perked them up.
►Edged and mowed the yard.
►The compost bins got waterlogged Wednesday, but, one has dried up, and hit 110°.

March 14 80° Sunny and HOT!
Did more research on #LOQUATS, and making jams/jellies. Discovered there's a whole lot more you can do with a loquat than that! You can freeze them, make smoothies, wine, dehydrate them, pickle them, and so much more.

I've identified 5 huge trees in my neighborhood that are LOADED with fruit that no one seems to care about. Well, I care that the birds and squirrels and possums will pick them clean, and, since it seems to be FREE fruit for the taking, I'm gearing up to harvest that fruit, preserve it, and row merrily along, LOL!

My plan is to make Loquat jam this weekend. Pomona Pectin recipes. Will post pics when available, and report the outcome.

Meanwhile, here're the trees I've identified (so far):

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March 16 80° Overcast!
Watered the green beans and the beets. The weather man keeps lying to me...

ALL the beets are standing up! Since I'll likely have tops only, I discovered I can dehydrate them to a crisp, run them through the food processor and turn them into a powder I can use as a sprinkle in soups, stews, smoothies, eggs, etc. How KEWL is that? Thumb of 2016-03-21/Gymgirl/159b7eBEFOREThumb of 2016-03-21/Gymgirl/d7959dAFTER

March 18 80° Overcast & ready to storm!
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I raced out to the #LOQUAT trees, picked a 5-gallon bucketful, then spent the next 4 hours de-seeding them. I ended up with two 6-quart crock pots of de-seeded fruits, and one huge bowlful of whole loquats left to deal with.

I picked from three different trees in my neighborhood, and, flavor-wise, it was very interesting. Tree number one had loquats like the ones we ate growing up, sweet and tangy. Tree numbers 2 & 3 had huge, golden orange fruits that had absolutely no taste at all. After I tasted the first several fruits, I left those trees alone, and moved on to tree numbers 4 & 5.

Before I could even ask, the lady who answered the door took one look at my bucket and said "take all that you want," LOL!! Well, I tasted the first fruit and almost passed out. It was the sweetest loquat I have ever eaten in my life!! I ended up with 2/3 of a bucket of the Tangy-Sweet fruits from tree number one, and 1/3 of a bucket from tree numbers four & five, which were so naturally sweet. Wish I had started with THOSE trees, LOL! I put the crock pots of loquat meat in the fridge until I was ready for my jam making session.

March 20 85°

I went to Penzy's Spice Shop and introduced myself to Cardamom. One #loquat jam recipe recommended it, but, I needed to figure that out. Good thing I did, because, although the unadulterated loquat jam was OK, it was [i]only[/] OK. It needed some "pop," and the Cardamom was that pop! I used Pomona Pectin and their recipe for blueberry jam, since there was no Pomona recipe for loquats. A good friend who I consider to be the Jam & Jelly Queen in NOLA, recommended I start out with 1/2 cup of Agave Nectar (my sweetener of choice for this project), and increase from there. I ended up using 1 cup for each of the two batches I made. I also added 3/4 tsp. of sea salt to the recipe, to balance out the "sweet"-ness.

It took me a minute to appreciate the taste of Cardamom, but, it has grown on me, LOL! I've been enjoying the jam on plain wheat bread (untoasted), and having a blast!

Two batches yielded a total of 19 half-pints of Loquat Jam. That was definitely NOT enough!!!!

Additional #LOQUAT JAM Notes:
►8-9 cups of whole fruit and 1c water were simmered down for 15 minutes. At this point, I hit them lightly with the immersion blender to break up the skins. NEXT time, I will break them up a bit more, since there were larger pieces of skins in the final product. Or, better yet, I will try to remove the skins altogether by blanching the whole fruits first in a pot of boiling water, like I do for raw almonds. The skins might just slip off altogether. Then, de-seed them!
►Measure out the required 4 cups of cooked fruit, after simmering & blending.
►The sea salt helped
►I used 1/4 tsp Cardamom per batch. That was a very good level...
►I added crushed pepper flakes to one batch, but, it wasn't enough to even taste the heat. Add MORE heat next time, similar to a pepper jelly...
►Experiment with freezing the whole fruits. They may just slip from the skins once thawed out...
►Recruit friends to help with de-seeding!!! This is the most tedious part of the process!!
►Pay attention to the weather in 2017. Begin sampling the fruits the 2nd or 3rd week in March. Target picking begins 4th week of March through the 2nd or 3rd week in April. The harvesting window in Houston is VERY, VERY short!!!
►Finally, MAKE MUCH MORE LOQUAT JAM in 2017!

Week of March 28 - April 1 overcast, cool, sunny, breezy & misty... YARD CATCH-UP!!
►Started consolidating many small containers into fewer large containers. Less IS more...
►Refreshed potting mixes with Mittleider Pre-Plant and Weekly Feed
►Added bags of Black Kow composted manure to RBs #3 & 4. Just spread it on top. Didn't work it in.
►Divided Ferns & cut back the Firecracker plant
►Transplanted 3 NOIDs (Anita's) and one Sioux tomato plant in RB #3. Strung them up to the overhead line.
►Transplanted 4 Tabasco and one red chili pepper plants in RB #4.
►Cleared out lettuce half of RB #5. Need to plant something there, and pray the Buttercrunch reseeds itself in the fall...
►Edged and mowed yard.
►Played with the compost bins. Need to start sifting it onto the raised beds.

March 29
After TWO years, I needed to make another batch of Homemade Laundry Powder. 2 Tbsp. per load.
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►There are blooms on the #Contender Green Beans!!!
►The two #Matt's Wild Cherry and two #Sioux tomatoes have fruits!

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My 2016 Garden Journal - FEBRUARY
Posted on Feb 4, 2016 8:54 AM

February 1 75°, overcast, but bright.

February 4 55°, cool & Sunshine.
San Marzano tomatoes finally up after almost 9 days. I thought the seeds were bad, LOL!

Thumb of 2016-02-04/Gymgirl/490732 SAN MARZANO seedlings @ 9 days.

Kellogg's Breakfast, NOID cherries, and Beets are ready for hardening off this weekend.

Thumb of 2016-02-04/Gymgirl/3b6059KELLOGG'S BREAKFAST seedlings @ 25 days.

Thumb of 2016-02-04/Gymgirl/cb3d95b]NOID Cherry Tomato seedlings @ 25 days.[/b]

Thumb of 2016-02-04/Gymgirl/d57bfab]BULL'S BLOOD Beet seedlings @ 25 days.[/b]

Thumb of 2016-02-04/Gymgirl/a2a7d0DETROIT DARK RED Beet seedlings @ 25 days.[/b]

February 6 55°, cool & Sunshine.
Watered the seedlings.

February 8 55°, cool & Sunshine.
Watered the seedlings. They're starting to change, and, I've seen that look before. Sucking up the nutrients faster than I can water them. That means they're moving past "baby food" and fluorescent lights, and need to go outside into the REAL WORLD, LOL!!! They need sunshine, rainwater, space to spread their roots, wind to whip them into shape, and some real food!

Unfortunately, a real life death got in the way...back on the tomato track in a minute...

February 10 65°, Sunshine.
Watered and fertilized everything in the veggie garden. No rain for two weeks, and none in sight... :-\
►Most all of the broccoli have heads in varying stages of growth. :)
►Bok Choy, Collards, and Spinach in the Earthboxes have skyrocketed in growth. Smiling Harvested Bok Choy & Spinach and made a salad! The Giant Noble spinach is spectacular! Need a pic, LOL!

►Absolutely have to get those tomato & beet seedlings out of the house. >:(
They are beginning to languish under the lights. Sucking up the water almost twice a day now. Need sunlight, rain, wind, and soil to spread roots...

February 15 65°, Overcast, but bright.
Did a quick walkabout in the garden:
►Two beds lie fallow (if you don't count the rogue sweeties I refuse to water in one. I want them gone...)
►The Meyer Improved Lemon is full of blossoms, again! Also, the fruits are swelling! I fertilized Wed. with Mittleider WF.
►Collards are huge in the Earthbox (EB)
►The two (2) EBs of spinach are packed and growing. Best stand of spinach I've grown to date. Fertilized Wed. w/MWF
►Bok Choy is large. I think it needs to be picked early or it gets bitter. Fertilized Wed. w/MWF.
►ALL the broccoli has heads. Need to start harvesting the largest ones before they bolt in the heat.
►Thinned the Kale last Wednesday, and fertilized. Growth is very significant as of today. Huge leaves!
►NOTE TO SELF: Need to spray Bt on the bok choy. There's at least one worm in there, LOL!

►Tomatoes indoors have fainted!! After examining, I determined a few things:
►It is too warm under the fluorescents!!! I could feel the heat! Put the box fan on and aimed it at the grow shelves
►There was NO CAPILLARY ACTION in the individual cups!!! Even though I was bottom watering, the potting mix had dried out, and the plant was not taking up any water. I top-watered each 12 oz. cup with a turkey baster squirt of Mittleider Constant Comfort, then filled each tray. After the capillary action started again, and they cooled off overnight, all the toms were standing up this morning. WHEW!!!

►Beets, same as the tomatoes above...

Setting out tomato plants today for hardening off.

The SIOUX and KELLOGG'S BREAKFAST seedlings are still outstanding!
Beginning to wonder about those NOIDS, LOL!

The San Marzanos that took forever to come up, are growing very sturdy, and very fast. That's a good thing!

February 16 80°, SUNSHINE!!!
►Finally, the tomato seedlings are outside for hardening off!
Contrary to the prescribed method of hardening them off for a few hours a day at a time, I raced to get them outside around 2:00p. It was sunshiny, so I put a few trays under the covered patio on a table. They all wouldn't fit, and I didn't want any to sit on the concrete pad. Higher up tends to keep any crawlies off.

I found one patchy, half-shady/sunny spot on a fallow raised bed I had covered with plastic to keep the squirrels out. I put two trays of the hardiest Sioux seedlings there, and left everything outside overnight.
Watered everything in the yard.
►Need to transplant the collards to the raised bed, harvest the spinach & bok choy, and use the EBs as mini greenhouses to start new seeds.
Harvested and steamed a broccoli head that was showing a tinge of blossoms. Actually, I dropped the florets into some crab boil! YUM-MY!!!

February 17 74°, Clear!!!
It dipped to 54° last night. Checked this morning, and every seedling is fine. I think the slight chill actually helped them.
So, they're out for the long haul -- no "in and out." Out is OUT, LOL!!! Today's high will be 74° and not as much sun, so, the Lord is hearing my plea. They won't fry in the heat, LOL!!

February 19 80°, Bright
Cooperative gardening at its best! A gift from a friend, who has 5 chickens in her urban home, LOL!
Thumb of 2016-02-22/Gymgirl/ea5e1a Thumb of 2016-02-22/Gymgirl/222468

February 20 74°, Overcast, but bright
Whole day spent processing food to the freezer.
Harvested all the sizable broccoli heads that hadn't gone to flower. Thumb of 2016-02-22/Gymgirl/59cad7

Left a handful of small ones to keep on growing as long as possible, but, I think I'm hoping against hope for more cold weather. Thumb of 2016-02-22/Gymgirl/15820b It's SPRINGTIME, LOL!

Harvested gorgeous Collards from the EB, and fertilized the plants to keep on going under the hoop.
Harvested amazing Giant Noble Spinach from two EBs. Fertilized the still growing plants. Probably need to move all the EBs under the patio cover, into some cool breeze...
►The Bok Choy growing in the last two EBs had mostly rotted from too much moisture. I cooked what I salvaged, but, the taste is not to my liking. I don't think I know how to cook it, yet. Will try again, since I love the Bok Choy from the store in the soup I make...need my own source.

Since rain is predicted, uncovered the two fallow 4x8s so they get a good soaking. Discovered three volunteer green bean seedlings taking off, so, it's NOT too early to plant those green beans, LOL! Contenders going in Tuesday evening under covered tunnels inside the hoop.

►The tomatoes are ready, ready, ready to go in!!!.. Soon as I can work the soil and dig a decent planting hole, in they go!
Thumb of 2016-02-22/Gymgirl/2720c6

February 22 75°, Drizzling Rain...YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!
Not as much drizzle as I had hoped for, but, enough to at least moisten the two raised beds.
Discovered the Carrot seeds I sowed way back when, came up after all, LOL! All long and leggy underneath the plastic I covered the containers with to keep the squirrels out. Duh!

February 23 72°, It's Raining RAIN...YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!
A real nice downpour early this morning, but, it's brightening up now. Might try sowing those beans later ... that bed should be primo moist enough!

Pretty sure the carrot seedlings got a beat down, though.....

February 27 64°, Full on SUNSHINE!!!
Transplanted three (3) Kellogg's Breakfast tomatoes to the end of RB #1. Dug very deep and filled hole with 50/50 new compost & fill soil, and added Mittleider Pre-plant & Weekly Feed.

Sowed remainder of RB #1 with Contender Green Beans. Planted ~4" on centers. Hopefully, the bed will be filled with beans!

Transplanted 1/3 of RB #2 with beets. Think I'm fighting a losing battle on the beets. Still have six trays left to transplant.

Harvested and processed all the remaining broccoli heads and sizable side-shoots. Have harvested two industrial size colanders full to date, approximately 8-10 lbs.?
Thumb of 2016-02-29/Gymgirl/e0b1f4
Process is: wash, blanch in boiling salted water, shock in ice bath, freeze flowerettes on cookie sheet, vacuum seal.

Harvested & processed another bag of Giant Noble Spinach. Cooked and ate a small portion. OMGoodness, it is soooooo good!!! "I LIKE the taste of 'taste!!!!'" LOLOL!

Sowed one flat of Gretel Hybrid Eggplants (Park Seeds)

Sowed one flat of Listada de Gandia Heirloom Eggplants (Tomato Growers)

Sowed one EB of Armenian? cukes
Sowed one EB of Slicer cukes

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My 2016 Garden Journal - JANUARY
Posted on Jan 13, 2016 10:47 AM

January 6 RAIN.

January 8 RAIN.

January 9 SUNNY.
Sowed seeds for:
►Tomatoes. #Sioux, #Kellogg's Breakfast, and a NOID. The NOID is a red cherry tomato with purple shoulders.
►Beets. #Detroit Dark Red and #Bull's Blood
►Peppers. Sweet Bell Peppers, Rainbow Mix (Darcy's seeds)
►Peppers. Cayenne Peppers (MIgardener's seeds)
LINK: Sioux Tomato

January 12 SUNNY.
►Beets. Harvested a few from raised bed (RB) #2.
►Broccoli. Fed 25 #Arcadia Broccoli plants with Mittleider Weekly Feed.
LINK: Arcadia Brocc

Thumb of 2016-01-13/Gymgirl/a4035b ARCADIA BROCCOLI, January 7, 2013

►Peppers. Discovered two Jalapenos on the plant from last spring! Fed & watered. It might just come back altogether!
►Carrots. Sowed seeds for #New Kuroda & #Kuroda Long carrots (Kitazawa Seeds) in containers. Two of each.
LINK: New Kuroda carrot

January 14 SUNNY.
The Kellogg's Breakfast, Sioux, and NOID tomatoes are all up. Pulled them from the baggies, and shoved them under the lights.

January 15 SUNNY.
Beets are UP, UP, UP!!! They probably came up Wednesday night -- 4 days from sowing.

Thumb of 2016-01-16/Gymgirl/e2c553 BEETS

Thumb of 2016-01-16/Gymgirl/6e0b26 BEETS

Thumb of 2016-01-16/Gymgirl/c3b733 SIOUX tomatoes up on day #6 from sowing.

January 19 The MLK weekend has been absolutely glorious!
Fed and watered everything in the garden. Arcadia broccoli looking great! Harvested all the remaining beets, leaving just the Vardaman sweetie volunteers in RB #2. Uncovered RB #1 & turned the soil, to capture the rain we're expecting. Once the bed is fully watered, I'll decide what to sow next.

Threw some Weekly Feed into all the Earthboxes (EBs). Collards getting bigger. Spinach and Bok Choy look a little anemic. Hope the feed helps.

January 20 Today was overcast.
The Kellogg's Breakfast, Sioux, and NOID tomatoes were all up by last Thursday. Have only bottom-watered them once. Withholding watering the tomato seedlings further, until they swoon, to force them to send down deep roots. They are already throwing a first, true leaf.

Have been watering the beets daily with Mittleider Constant Comfort formula. They are all standing straight up.

Uncovered the carrots. Forgot they need light to germinate...

January 21 Today was Sunny, but very blustery. Temps are dropping to 37° tonight.
►Hoops have been blown off of three raised beds. Need to secure them before the squirrels and moths discover the way in...
►Seriously considering sowing #Contender green beans and #Sugar snap peas in RB #1, under a DOUBLE hoop. Since the bed is 4' wide, I can use the mini greenhouses to make two parallel low tunnels over the seeds, then cover the entire bed with the perforated plastic hoop. Should get pretty toasty under there, and the perforations will provide air circulation ... Hmmmmmmm...
►The tomatoes are growing fast under the lights, and are beefing up nicely (especially the #Sioux). Will work on separating them into individual cells tomorrow.
►The #beets are tall, w/o being "leggy." Need to separate them, too. There are a LOT, but, hey, I like beets, LOL!

January 25 Overcast.
►Did a walkabout, and re-affixed the hoop covers that had been blown off. Discovered three broccoli buttons!
►#Carrots are a total bust. Not one seedling is up. All fresh seeds, so, user error. I inadvertently rotted them with the watering & covering.. still time to sow another batch.
►#Meyer Improved Lemon tree is covered with tiny fingernail-size fruits, finally, in year #2. Didn't know citrus grows in the cool, and messed up its growing cycle by protecting it in the dark garage all last winter, LOL! It was covered with blooms and totally confused when I brought it out into the WARM spring. It promptly dropped all those blooms, and not one fruit set...
►#Collards, #Spinach, and #Bok Choy in the EBs have doubled in size since the temps dipped. And, no more anemia since I fed them.

January 26 Overcast.
Potted up Kellogg's Breakfast seedlings to 12 oz. individual cups. These'll stay under the lights for two more weeks. Then, they go onto the patio for hardening off for 4 days. Targeted transplant into the garden is weekend of February 13th, under hoops for frost protection.

Thumb of 2016-01-27/Gymgirl/9a45a8 KELLOGG'S BREAKFAST TOMATO SEEDLINGS at 17 days from sowing

These seedlings have been watered once, after they declared. They have been FED twice with Mittleider Constant Comfort daily seedling feed. I withheld the daily feeding, to encourage the roots to go deeper. They are 4" at potting up time.

January 27 Harvested FRESH Kale for the first time. Cooked FRESH Kale for the first time. Ate FRESH Kale for the first time. LIKED fresh cooked Kale, for the first time! Amazing what growing your own food will do for your taste buds...^ Smiling ^

Thumb of 2016-02-01/Gymgirl/ee869bKALE, Dwarf Blue Curled

January 30 - Gorgeous weather today.
Fed and watered everything in the garden. Found more broccoli buttons.

Tomato and Beet seedlings looking good under the lights.

Thumb of 2016-01-31/Gymgirl/75370d KELLOGG'S BREAKFAST

Thumb of 2016-02-01/Gymgirl/5dd3f7 SIOUX

Thumb of 2016-01-31/Gymgirl/ba3f62 NOID Seedling

Thumb of 2016-01-31/Gymgirl/050c17 DETROIT DARK RED BEET

Thumb of 2016-02-01/Gymgirl/9ea729 [BULL'S BLOOD BEET

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