Gardening 101

Garden 2017
From left to right we’ve got..  Watermelon and spaghetti squash. Tomatoes.  Cucumbers hiding behind tomatoes. Carrots and broccoli and tomato babies. Lettuce. Carrots and lettuce. Worlds smallest strawberry patch and the kid’s sunflowers.

I have always had a green thumb. I kept an ivy plant alive for four years while away at college, reminding my mom to water it for me while I was away for extended periods of time. It only died when I moved across the country, leaving it solely in my mom’s hands. No great loss. I had won it at a carnival.

So when the husband decided to start a garden, I was psyched. I’ve grown basil and mint in pots before, but nothing on a larger scale. Please enjoy my wordy and honest memoir of  starting our first home garden.

Step one. Putting up the fence. The littlest sister just so happened to be visiting for the weekend and we got to work installing a rickety wood fence, which has since come in handy with keeping the puppy and preschooler out.

Step two. Pulling all the visible weeds; and the ground was essentially a tiny forest of them. Tons and tons of mallow and stinging nettle. Tea anyone? (Here comes mistake number one, are you ready?) So once all the weeds were pulled we had what we assumed was a blank canvas. We were wrong. The weeds we didn’t see much of – nutgrass – took full advantage of being broken up by the tilling and the fact that they are tubers and came back in the hundreds. I could literally go out and pull 100 tiny nutgrass plants, easy. And that doesn’t solve the problem because they leave shoots underground much like bermuda grass. Let my first suggestion be, if you’re totally new, like me, and dedicating a new space to be a garden, let the weeds grow at least one full year and get them identified via an online plant ID group before doing any tilling. So not worth it. Especially since I’m not using any unnatural herbicides/insecticides because that defeats the whole purpose of a home garden.

Step three. Create the rows. The husband swears by this method and since I have zero experience growing plants outside of pots, I let him do whatever he wanted. He briefly mentioned making circle mounds, and I had not idea how this would have worked and I guess he decided against them.

Step four. Start the seeds. I’m just kidding, this should probably be done before you get the space for the garden ready. If you’re using miniature greenhouses like we did to start seeds, you’ll need to get them going about two weeks before you plan to transplant them into the garden, at a minimum. Honestly, I’m not sure when we did this all in relation to getting the garden ready. I think our baby plants were probably older than they needed to be. I also got half of my seeds from the dollar section at Target because I was really only intending to see if I could get things to grow. All of our current tomato plants, most of our cucumbers, and the watermelon plants came from the Target dollar spot. I definitely now recommend buying seeds from the garden center at any major retailer. At least then you know what variety you are working with. My husband is still a bit bothered that I can’t remember for sure if the tomatoes are beefsteaks or not. The package said organic tomatoes! I started them in a windowsill.. I guess that’s mistake number two, technically. Know what you’re planting. Also document in your phone when you start the seeds, so you know when they should be ready for harvesting. If you’re not buying them at Target, the package will tell you how many days away that should be. If you are buying them at Target, good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Step Five. Get ready to transplant and be sure to use markers! I went rogue and planted tomatoes from a cut up cherry tomato because that store-bought package had a really good taste and don’t exactly remember where I put them. Mistake number three.. I mean, I’m pretty sure because I’ve got clusters of little sprouts coming up in four places but theres also a two foot section of row on a different row that I also planted them and there’s nothing there so far. Mystery plants for the win!

Step Six. Buy cages for any vining plants and install them pretty soon after transplanting, if not at the same time. We did not use cages for our cucumbers and now the husband is saying we need to wrangle them into plant bras or else the cucumbers will rot!!! Exclamation point!! So use the cages and avoid mistake number four. We also got the cages that we did use from his mom because I wasn’t keen on spending a dollar more than we needed to. They’re old, and they are completely mismatched and a couple may be too small, but they will work for this year!

Step Seven. Water. You would think this would be obvious but after about two weeks I did forget and the poor plants went about four days without anything to drink. Thankfully still cool enough that nothing died. Keeping count? That’s mistake five and the last one I do believe.

Step Eight. Continue weeding. This never ends apparently. I mean, I knew that but was not prepared to discover a dozen new to me species of invasive weeds, a new one taking over after the last has been pulled every single time. Definitely think about going full nerd and joining that plant ID group on Facebook. They help. We will probably be trying some newspaper to cover the rows and see if that helps.

Step Nine. Prepare to battle pests. We’ve had cutworms kill two cucumbers and three watermelon plants. Just hacked them off at the base of the plant. They also pooped all over the broccoli leaves. Rude. Just rude. There’s insect ID groups on Facebook you can join. They’re pretty great at helping when all your little plants are in jeopardy and every morning you go out to find more basically chopped down. The husband also had me go out and buy thin dowels and bird flash tape to keep birds at bay. They haven’t been a problem so far, but I’m not sure they would have been anyway.

Step Ten. Harvest. This is when writing down dates can be important, but really it’s  obvious when a tomato is ready to pick. The only trouble I ran into was the carrots, because those aren’t so obvious. Husband wants to pick them now but they need another two weeks.

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Baby Tomatoes – Target Dollar Spot win!
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We have about 20 baby cucumbers already! Also Target Dollar Spot Win!
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The only plants the four year old wanted to buy.

So there you have it. Maybe this will help you on your new gardening adventure or maybe you smiled at how many mistakes we made along the way. In any case, it’s really awesome when you need lettuce for a salad or sandwich and you can just walk to the backyard and pick a few leafs off the plant. Still waiting to be able to do that with everything else, but we did get a late start..

As Always Before,

Michelle

Eleven Days

Eleven days have come and gone since I last found a moment to write. In that time, my dad visited from California and we worked on several house projects. By “we” I mean that my Padre graciously did the work, while the little man and I supervised. It’s a little difficult to install ceiling fans and closet shelves and patch up walls with a baby in your arms! He did a lot more than that in the five days he was here though! We went to Lowes often enough that while I was walking around the store on my own (Grandpa had the baby!) someone stopped to ask me where the baby was. Haha! I’m so thankful for all the help around here so that when the hubby does get home, he can focus on being a dad, not a honey-do list.

And the little bee has just decided to make his nap one of the cat varieties. Short and sweet..

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December

It feels like I have been waiting for this month all year. Not for my birthday, which is now only two weeks away, but for whatever day our little man chooses to be his birthday. The eighth sounds good to me, but that’s only because I really don’t like the idea of being pregnant much longer.

Today my Madre and I went to a Christmas tree farm with my friend and her husband. Spent an hour searching for the “perfect” Christmas tree. Would have been even more fun had it not started pouring on us half way through the search. That’s Washington for you though.. weather forecast of rain showers and rain all week. I still don’t know the difference between showers and plain rain..

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Casualty of the Move

It’s been almost a year since my hubby and I dared to drive across the country. The move from South Carolina to Washington state was a harrowing one at times. Semi-truck tires, a blizzard and sand storm attacked and attempted to destroy our little Mazda 3. Despite the fun of staying in a new place every night, and the ability to say that I have driven across this gigantic country, I am in no rush to repeat the process.

Our baby boy will be here in just a few short weeks, and naturally, I’m going to want to take a zillion pictures of him to share with my husband and family and even here. I have a huge Nikon, and a small point and shoot Nikon and my iPhone which has a decent enough camera for emailed pictures. The only problem is that the point and shoot Nikon doesn’t hold a charge, and when turned on acts as if it is possessed by some evil spirit. All sorts of flashing lights and then it dies again. As far as I know, it hasn’t been dropped, hasn’t been stepped on or slammed around. It has been safe and dry inside it’s case. I have no idea why it doesn’t work, but I do know that it’s less than 2 years old and somewhere there is an extended warranty for the little bugger. Somewhere.

Another casualty of the move.. I could have sworn I tucked the warranty into the camera box while getting our apartment packed up in South Carolina. That would have been the most logical placement. Checked the camera box today, and the warranty is nowhere to be found. Shoot.

It had a “home” and then that was packed up and moved to a different apartment; only to be packed up and moved to this house. Who knows where it could be.. I definitely don’t. So now I have a broken camera, no warranty, and am once again compelled to recount the damages that occurred during that move across the country. The semi-tire, blizzard, sand storm… the cracked windshield, lost boxes, late delivery of our things.. and the lost warranty among so many other things that I’ve yet to discover are missing or misplaced.

Memories of Bootcamp

While busy with other things, my phone received two calls from “unknown” just now. My heart just sinks a little – and by “a little,” meaning that it’s fallen out my chest and onto the floor, thinking that it was probably my husband calling from the ship.

There is nothing quite like missing a call.. Deployments suck. Long distance sucks. Having a marriage relegated to email and the occasional, once a month if you’re lucky, phone call sucks. Not being able to call back, sucks.

Forgive me for my lack of eloquence but we’re close to hitting the one month away point and it’s really sinking in that there’s at least seven more to go.

 

 

But the good news is, he called back. So for at least today, he doesn’t feel like he’s on the opposite side of the world.

 

Before.

I have a lot of baby things on my mind.. shouldn’t come as a big shock to anyone considering that I’m 27.5 weeks pregnant.. This may be a very random post. I’m sure I could make everything flow coherently, but that would be a very, very long post.

First and foremost, I passed my gestational diabetes test with a 109! Anything lower than 135 is passing, so I was quite pleased to hear my score! When the nurse called me, she definitely sounded as if the results were going to go the other way.. I do have to say, the drink itself was not awful. I had the orange flavor. However, the nausea, racing heart and faintness I felt for almost an hour and half after drinking the “glucola” was awful. I still don’t understand why we can’t eat a big piece of chocolate cake. Now that’s something worth 300 calories of sugar! Baby boy didn’t care for the drink at all though. Slept through the entire appointment except when the doppler probe poked him and he punched or kicked back.

He actually seems to be a fairly calm baby.. at least for now. I first felt him move at sixteen weeks, on the dot. It’s hard to believe that was before I knew that he was a he.. (and was fairly sure he was a she) Was barely a flicker of motion after eating some chocolate, but he was there! Most days now, he moves around just enough for me not to worry. I usually just feel that he’s moved into a new sleeping position because the pressure points change – his favorite of which involves him laying sideways, usually with his head on the left.  He’s too stubborn to be head down.. just chilling out on his back most days or curled up into a ball in a diagonal position, butt down..

He’s had a pretty busy day today. There have been about three times when I’ve had to stop knitting or typing or washing dishes and look down because he’s just going crazy. Some women say it’s always like that for them; that they have very active babies already.. I don’t know how they get anything done! It amazes me how someone so small can literally bounce my whole torso around! I just sit or stand there and wonder what he’s doing, which way he’s sitting and where he’s trying to go. It makes me smile when I think about what it’s like for him to just be stuck with me all day. It’s all just so amazing, so awe-inspiring.

In other baby news, the glider for the nursery came in today!! I’m still deciding how I feel about it though, because the fabric is much more cream based than white.. and in a white, grey and yellow nursery I need to do some work to make it fit. Pictures will be up soon! I just need to finish the crib skirt.. (still..haha)

I guess this post is more for me. Because some day I won’t be pregnant anymore, and I know I’ll wonder what was going through my mind Before I was someone’s mommy.

Yarn Fail

It turns out the pattern I found for the diagonal pom pom blanket was written for circular knitting needles. I really should have paid more attention to that.

Try as I did, for almost two hours last night, I could not make it work using a crochet hook. I first went wrong trying to work at night, with just the solitary lamp in the corner lighting the room. Then there was the problem of having the entirely wrong kind of needle and pattern. I’m not giving up though! Just have to go out and buy a pair of knitting needles and figure it out. I am determined to make it work! At least I have a 50% off one item coupon to use at Joanns.

And that’s basically what my day will consist of today. That and some house work. Sounds exciting, huh? haha… If my sciatic nerve wasn’t making it difficult to walk I would go to the gym but have been advised to avoid exercise until it is no longer inflammed. Another random “joy” of pregnancy! It was fine one day, and then the next felt like I was being stabbed in the lower back with an ice pick. There are worse things though.

The glider for the nursery should (FINALLY) be delivered between one and five tomorrow afternoon. Can’t wait to post pictures! It better be as comfy as it looks.